The Players starts on Thursday May 8th and lasts through Sunday May 11th. We are excited to let our readers know that the tournament has continued to improve its food and drink options this year. We at Jacksonville Fine Dining Examiner recently had the opportunity to sample some of that food at a media event called Taste of the Players 2014. The event included multiple stops at the various dining venues on the course, including the new Sea Best 17 Deck, situated above the famous 17th hole. In general, it appears that The Players is making efforts to create an upscale dining experience and the results speak for themselves! What's even better is that all of the food stops we discuss below are open to the public with their general admission tickets. The following are some of the dining options we experienced during our visit to the course:
- Wine & Dine on 9: By partnering with Matthew Medure of Restaurant Medure, The Players has created a stop that our readers will likely enjoy. Restaurant Medure is a AAA Four Diamond restaurant and they have teamed up with Beringer to offer gourmet food items along with wine.
- Sea Best 17 Deck: We were extremely impressed by this new food station. Located above the 17th green, the Sea Best 17 Deck offers incredible views of the 18th tee and the 17th green. We imagine that this will be a very popular place for patrons, so you may want to get there early! Sea Best is a seafood distributor that serves the local Jacksonville area. They are a new sponsor and at the tournament and patrons will find Sea Best foods throughout the tournament, including the Sea Best shrimp and grits, which is the signature menu item at The Players. As for the Sea Best 17 Deck, they are serving a signature drink called the Sawgrass Splash with Grey Goose L'Orange Vodka, lemonade, orange juice, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup. We were able to try the Moscow Mule, featuring lime juice, vodka, and ginger beer. The drink was very refreshing and highly recommended if you enjoy the taste of ginger beer. We also tried the Sea Best shrimp wrap. This was also a refreshing and light item, but we weren't blown away by it. Cilantro (not one of our favorite ingredients) factored strongly in the wrap, so that may have been he reason we weren't crazy about the dish. Regardless, we feel there are better items found elsewhere on the course.
- Food Court: This area was moved to behind the 16th green for 2014. The Food Court was not open during our tour, so we just drove by. Restaurants featured include: Winn Dixie Fresh Cafe, Bono's Pit Bar-B-Q, Brucci's Pizza, Firehouse Subs, MShack, and Tropical Smoothie. Health conscious patrons should note that many of these stations feature low-calorie, vegetarian, and gluten-free items.
- Taste of JAX: This is a stop they we really enjoyed. To start, Culhane's is serving delicious pretzels that are stuffed with a creamy jalepeno filling. They are also serving Nana's Sausage Rolls, which delicious puff pastries stuffed with imported gourmet Irish banger sausage. On the other side, 4 Rivers Smokehouse is serving beef brisket and bbq baked beans. 4 Rivers is one of our favorite barbecue restaurants and their beef brisket is tender and delicious. Right next to the 4 Rivers location is the Metro Diner tent where they are serving fried chicken and waffles. We can report that this dish was fantastic. The chicken was served piping hot and the waffles were very crispy and featured a dollop of Sweet Strawberry Butter. The chicken is brinned for 24 hours and then marinated for another 24 prior to frying and served with a unique sweet and spicy dipping sauce that tasted like syrup mixed with hot sauce. This dish is highly recommended! Pele's Wood Fire is also on-site serving pizza and Indochine is serving Thai and Southeast Asian food.
- Tacos on 12: We are excited to announce that a local Jax favorite, TacoLu, has its own area at The Players between the 12th green and 13th tee. TacoLu has some of bright pink benches set up for comfortable seating to go along with their tacos like the Bangin Shrimp taco.
- Trucks on 10: If you like food trucks, then this is definitely the place to go. This food station is located between the 10th and 11th fairways and 15 green and features a Michelob ULTRA Mobile bar to go along with the food. We heard the Baby's Badass Burgers has great burgers, so we approached the pink truck and asked for a recommendation. What came out was a "burger" called The Good Wife, which was more accurately described as a multi-course meal. This incredible burger goes for $10 and features smoked cheddar, lettuce, tomato, bacon, fried over-easy egg, and baby's Special "spicy" sauce. When we bit into the burger the fried egg exploded and...it was delicious! We weren't able to eat the whole thing, but regretted it afterwards. Many of the other burgers are available in smaller slider versions, but if you get The Good Wife, it is only available in one size: large. Other food trucks are Mama's food (beef empanadas and chicken quesadillas), Corner Taco, Gourmet Aviator (plantain sliders), Up In Smoke BBQ, Super Food.
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