Comfort F d AND OLD-FASHIONED COMMUNITY AT SILKIE’S Story by KATIE MCPHERSON
ooking back on the coronavirus pandemic, we have probably all found a few new favorites: favorite shows to binge-watch on weekends, favorite ways to workout at home, or new favorite hobbies that allow us to get out of the house safely. My husband took up disc golf, for example, while I have become addicted to TikTok and making cookies. I did not anticipate finding a new favorite restaurant during quarantine, but if 2020 taught the world anything, it is to expect the unexpected. And Silkie’s Chicken & Champagne Bar has been exactly the kind of good surprise my community Chef Kenny Gilbert • Photo by Agnes Lopez needed in such a draining year. It even opened on Election Day, November 3, 2020. Gilbert closed his other beloved Jacksonville restaurants, Jacksonville, Florida is called “the bold new city of Gilbert’s Social and Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen, in late the South” thanks, in part, to its booming craft brewery 2019 to focus on new ventures. Getting into the Silkie’s scene and ever-expanding list of local eateries. You could location was one of them, specifically because the brick visit for a weekend, do nothing but eat and imbibe, and building held special memories for Gilbert and his wife, barely scratch the surface of the incredible culinary finds Anna. “When we first started dating, we would go there to around here. Three Layers to have coffee with her dad, who we care for I live in Springfield, one of Jax’s historic neighborhoods, now. She wanted that space for awhile — literally had her located just outside downtown. Houses here date back sights set on it for 10 years,” he said. to the early 1900s, with a few from 1896 that somehow Opening a new restaurant concept with a new menu in managed to survive Downtown Jacksonville’s Great Fire a new location was, understandably, nerve-wracking for of 1901. People here know each other by face and name, the couple. Fear was their lend each other tools and biggest challenge, he said. helping hands, and come “Fear of the unknown. Will “Local businesses open because together often at our local people come out to eat? bars and restaurants. It is they want to share their love Will they only do takeout? the kind of old-fashioned of food and service from their Will they come at all?” community I thought did With a menu like not exist anymore, where perspective. They bring compassion Silkie’s, I am not sure how residents really know and and soul, pure and simple. We do you could keep people care about each other. this from the heart every day. That away. Gilbert describes it We have some notable as a chicken and biscuit neighbors around feeds the soul of the community. concept paired with here too. Chef Kenny Chef Kenny Gilbert champagne cocktails, Gilbert joined the a mixture of Southern neighborhood two years cuisine and continental influences. I call it comfort food ago. You may know him from Top Chef, Season 7 with unexpected, exciting flavors and the chance to see a (chefkennygilbert.com) or making Thanksgiving dinner talented chef at work (the Silkie’s kitchen is open to the for Oprah on Instagram (bit.ly/IG-Oprah-ChefKenny) or dining room). because his spice blends made her list of 2020 favorites My favorite dish at Silkie’s is their biscuit sampler. (bit.ly/Oprah-2020Fav-ChefKenny). He has lived and It features four distinctly flavored biscuits — plantain worked in Jacksonville off and on since 1992 and moved ginger, truffle gouda, jalapeno cheddar, and classic to Springfield for that community feel.
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