Anatolia, Jacksonville (Mandarin)

For Donna's birthday gathering, we dined at Anatolia, a Mediterranean/Italian restaurant in the Mandarin section of Jacksonville. Donna was looking forward to finally trying the place, as she'd heard raves about the food. Me? I was all about the fact that it was Turkish/Greek food.

When you walk in, there is a large lobby area with a large bar, and several couches and comfortable chairs if you're waiting for the rest of your party. The bar was rather busy, and the bartender was an absolute sweetheart. The beer selections gravitate towards domestic and light, but they had Efes, which I got for Ed, and they had the Pinot Grigio that Donna had requested. Price for two drinks was just under $10, which is absolutely reasonable, IMO.

Anatolia's has a regular dining room with a baby grand piano, and the pianist was playing some pleasant background music. We were ushered to a nice sized party room, which can be closed off for events. Two servers assisted us, and promptly brought baskets of a delicious crusty bread to go with the olive oil dip on the table (that had sun dried tomatoes and fresh rosemary in it-must try doing this at home!). The beauty of this place is that the servers checked in with many in the party to get drinks. Alas I never got asked, but I was pretty busy with getting pictures.

Once we had everyone there, we ordered appetizers. Ed, the boys and I got Saganaki. It was served with a flaming flourish and was a larger portion than we've received elsewhere, so we shared with others. Theirs isn't overwhelmed by the Ouzo, instead, it had a hint of lemon flavoring and was fantastic when placed inside the rustic bread.

Chef and I ordered Lamb Adana, which came with rice and salad and was seasoned and charred expertly. The picture makes it look small, but trust me, there was about half left over of my portion. Ed ordered Ossobucco, which he thoroughly enjoyed. GameTeen first contemplated Gnocci with blue cheese sauce, then opted for Chicken tenders. These are not from a bag, they are fresh breaded and generously portioned. They were served with crisp french fries. This portion was also very large, with Chef having one left over.

While our servers were fantastic, I think that larger parties kind of befuddle the kitchen, as half the table had food a solid 15 minutes before the rest despite all ordering at the same time. Still, the servers and food were great, so I would not hold this against them. I doubt this is an issue for a normal sized dining group.

I will say this: if Donna wants to go back to Anatolia with us when we're in Jacksonville, I would definitely take her up on the suggestion.

Anatolia Grill and Bar on Urbanspoon


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