Route 9

Route 9, a sliver of a restaurant on a quiet stretch of Ponce de Leon, is as straightforward and unpretentious as the northern highway for which it’s named. The menu, advertised as “American cuisine with a bit of Latin and Florida flair,” is a quirky list of what chef-restaurateurs Jeremy and Paola Goldberg do best, from charcuterie to berry cobblers. But their greatest talent seems to be creating a welcoming environment with good food and drinks at a reasonable price. The couple met at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. (U.S. Route 9 runs past the school), and earned their chops in Miami – she at Timo, he at Escopazzo and Johnny V’s. Their eclectic (truly more Mediterranean) menu puts quality before creativity.

Ambience: With just over a dozen wooden tables scattered across wide pine planks and floor-to-ceiling chalkboard next to the kitchen, it’s a cozy and endearing spot.

What Worked

  • A picture-perfect burger served on a toasted brioche bun: juicy Harris Ranch meat served with a thin, oozing slab of sharp provolone dotted with slivers of balsamic-marinated onions
  • Fat, herb-flecked fries the color of just-milled maple
  • A well-curated charcuterie selection including French fromages (St. Andre, Roquefort & Petite Basque), jellies, milk stout whole grain mustard and cured cucumbers and peppers, all house-made
  • A not-at-all-small bowl of perfectly steamed Prince Edward Island mussels in an ever-so-subtly buttery tomato broth with tiny tomato dice and bits of spicy chorizo
  • Earnest & enthusiastic staff
  • Welcoming and sincere service
  • A deep green poblano pepper stuffed with a smoky mahi dip and served with aggressively seasoned toasted tortilla triangles
  • Walnut-sized braised meatballs in chunky red sauce
  • Perky pink Keys shrimp over fresh, well-timed egg fettuccine with just enough butter and garlic for a smooth kick
  • An impressive salad of pinky-sized arugula leaves, blood orange and perfectly cooked smiles of beets
  • A refreshing, albeit acidic, Caesar salad
  • An earthy and delicious mushroom soup with a swirl of balsamic vinegar
  • A right-on-the-money wine list including mostly French and California darlings
  • An impressive artisanal beer menu
  • A moist and light doubledecker chocolate cake
  • A charmingly sloppy banana cream “pie” blending pudding with slivers of ripe fruit and a touch of whipped cream