Zaharias St.Augustine Falls Short on Quality

A few friends and I ride most Wednesdays, partly to get out and enjoy the Florida sunshine, but mainly to find a good restaurant now and then to chow down at. This past weekend we traveled to St. Augustine Beach to try Zaharias. Zaharias is a Greek restaurant that has been at the same location on A1A for ages. I can’t tell you how many times I have passed the place and thought about stopping, only to keep going. Well, here’s my chance! To start, Zaharias has ample parking, and especially for motorcycles. As we entered through the outdoor deck, I was a little nervous. Nervous in the sense that it was lunchtime on a Wednesday and we appeared to be the first customers to arrive! Now most restaurants, and in particular those in St. Augustine have a common trait – and that is that you can smell the food before you walk in. Not here – so I’m really nervous now. I’m thinking, ”Maybe the kitchen is just getting going, or perhaps there is a lull while they change their oil.” Yeah, OK. There was none of that happening and in fact I think the kitchen staff must have been surprised at our arrival because they came out to the parking lot to look at our bikes! Flattering, but not a good sign.

In addition to being a Greek restaurant, Zaharias also has ample Italian dishes, and they serve breakfast as well. I personally have this thing about restaurants that try to do too much, but who am I to argue, so lets do this! So our party of ten was seated and of the ten, eight of us ordered breakfast. Myself and one other gentleman ordered lunch, mainly because it was noon. I should have been the ninth one to order breakfast. Damn. The service for the restaurant was more than adequate for the level of eatery it was. The waitress was prompt and courteous, and made sure we had everything we needed. The ambiance was weird. I wasn’t sure if I was in a Greek restaurant, an Italian restaurant, a seafood restaurant, or a diner. I don’t dig multifaceted spots. Pick a culinary direction and stick with it.

Entrees = C

My eight friends ordered different variations of breakfast, from omelets, to scrambled eggs, to pancakes. Each of their meals looked delicious. The pancakes were huge and fluffy and took up most of their plates. Their collective breakfasts would rate at the top of anyone’s list, but lets not forget – their were two of us who had lunch – so would this trend continue? In a word – no. My friend ordered the Liver & Onions (7.95), and as I do not partake in the consumption of organ meats, I had to rely upon his expertise. “This liver is overcooked and as tough as a shoe tongue.” He took one bite of the liver, chewed it for what seemed like an eternity, and then politely pushed his plate away. Me, I took the easy route. I figured if we were in a Greek restaurant, then why not order the Gyro (euro) (6.95)? I know, it was a homer choice, but I wasn’t really feeling anything else. I should have ordered a salad. Now I have had gyros in many different countries, so I know what to expect. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the gyro, it is a mixture of lamb and beef that is slow-roasted on a vertical rotisserie until the outer layers develop this amazing bark that is both crunchy and moist. It is typically served in a pita or a wrap with lettuce, tomatoes, and a yogurt sauce. If you order it as a platter, then it usually comes deconstructed with an order of fries. This is European street food at its best. In fact, there is an ever-continuing fight between the Greeks and the Turks as to whose sandwich is the best – the Greek Gyro, or the Turkish Doner Kebob. I love them both; so don’t ever ask me to choose! My gyro came in a wrap with all of the fixings, but the meat tasted like it was boiled. It was rubbery, and had very little flavor. I am not sure if Wednesday at noon is a bad time for Zaharias, but this was not working for me. I did, however, give it the old college try (three bites), but alas, I too had to push my plate to the side.

Service = C

If you happen to be traveling either to, or through St. Augustine Beach in search of a good meal, pass on Zaharias. My guess is that the locals are the ones keeping this place afloat. There is nothing spectacular about this spot at the beach, and in fact, there are other spots in and around St. Augustine that are far better. I think they are trying to do too many things, while losing focus on the one thing they claim to focus on. In my opinion, Zaharias fails to cut the Tzatziki.

Zaharias Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Restaurant:      Zaharias

Address:          3945 A1A South, St. Augustine, FL 32080

Telephone:      (904) 471-4799

Website:         Really?

Date of Visit:  July 17, 2013

The Intercontinental Foodie © 2013

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