Matthew Medure from Matthew's and Restuarant Medure talks Florida food, Jacksonville restaurants and cocktails.
Besides your own successful restaurants, how has Jacksonville (and Amelia’s) dining scene changed since you arrived in at the Ritz Carlton in the 80s?
This area has taken leaps every half decade, it’s just steadily grown into a great dining scene. It used to be just the Ritz for super-creative food, but we took the leap back in 1997 and opened Matthew’s when there wasn’t much here and it continues to grow cool options.
Diners seem to be more curious where their food comes from now. What are some of the farms you like to use?
For me, fresh and local is the only way I’ve ever known to cook. At the Ritz, we had a good relationship with the farmers and things would always find its way to our door. Before, it was for us; it was the chefs who wanted to use the best local produce for the best color and flavor. Now, our guests want to know which farm something came from and they can go to the farmers market and buy that same product.
What Florida grown/produced foods excite you the most?
I love the seasons here. In the winter it’s the amazing citrus: kumquats, persimmons, grapefruit. We have an Ocala farmer whom we’ve used for 24 years: Charles Andrews of Hammock Hollow. He grows crazy cucumbers, beautiful eggplants and zucchini—whatever is in season. We also had a server decide to start Twinn Bridges Farm here in Jacksonville a few years back. We use her kale at M Shack.
There has been a boom in craft cocktails. What is one your favorite concoctions?
At Restaurant Medure, the bar has more of a wild vibe and the cocktails there are crafty and on-edge. The Sloe Fizz is based off the old sloe gin. We whip egg whites into the drink and the fizziness lasts the entire drink. At Matthew’s it’s a more classic vibe; you can’t go wrong with a Manhattan, there are so many great bourbons out there now.
Besides your flagship restaurants, Matthew’s and Restaurant Medure, you have the very popular M Shack serving burgers.
I wanted a great, affordable burger, one that you wanted to eat over and over again. There are great burgers out there but you may want one a year because it’s so rich. The secret is in the meat blend; it was a huge undertaking at it took us three months to get it right. We figured out how to make it taste like a chopped steak, with just the right amount of fat. We now have an M Shack food trailer across from Matthews and are getting ready to open our Five Points location.
As we all know, a local’s advice is gold when traveling. If a guest at one of your restaurants asked you what activity to do while they were visiting the First Coast, where would you point them?
The beach of course! Just get out there and enjoy the water, or do some fishing. Also, the St. Johns Town Center. It’s fun to walk through and spend the day there.