Restaurant Review: Burlingame

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Eric and Deb Fanelli were not shy in their first foray into the restaurant business, embarking on an extensive renovation that removed all traces of the law office that had occupied the 1940s-era structure on South 5th Street in Fernandina’s historic district. Their casual fine dining restaurant, Burlingame, opened in March, just in time for the annual Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance.

Burlingame seats just under 120 patrons overall, with the dining spaces split between a front room with a two-sided fireplace, a bar and lounge area, the glass room towards the back, and a large deck under a canopy of magnolia and live oak trees. The décor is clean and almost cottage-like without the kitsch. Counter seating in front of a series of windows on the deck offers a view into the bustling kitchen helmed by executive chef Chad Livingston.

The Fanellis’ love for food and restaurants was stoked by the cooking classes at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island’s Salt, where they first made a connection with Livingston. Their friendship led to serious philosophical discussions about dining experiences and ultimately progressed to opening a place of their own.

AL1_3637Livingston’s seasonal menus offer dishes with the exacting craftsmanship expected of a chef and team who spent time in the kitchen of one of The Ritz-Carlton’s culinary jewels, and the resulting plates are as visually appetizing as they are delectable.

Take the strawberry gazpacho ($9) appetizer, a cool bowl of pickled strawberry, buttermilk sorbet, Jonah crab and an oat crumble. It’s a cool delight with a hint of crunch, and a welcome respite from a hot summer day. The grilled summer corn and garganelli pasta ($13) is a savory option, with healthy chunks of Benton’s bacon, flakes of Parmesan and a sweet corn espuma.

The pork tenderloin entrée ($32), slow-smoked and finished on the grill, sits atop fingerling potatoes and green beans. It is tender beyond belief, and the combination of house-made barbecue sauce and bleu cheese is extraordinary.

Thoughtfulness extends to the after-dinner menu, which includes a handful of desserts, wines and a cheese course of four-month-aged Manchego ($8) for guests with a Continental palate. Southerners would be remiss to leave without an order of Burlingame’s refined and intensely buttery pecan pie ($8), paired with a brown butter ice cream perched on a chocolate ganache.

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Plan Ahead With limited seating, reservations are recommended. You can make a reservation by phone or via Burlingame’s website.

Menu For All Seasons The menu changes seasonally, so summer means blueberries, peaches and snap peas.

Take a Walk While you’re in the area, don’t forget to check out Centre Street and Fernandina’s historic district.

Burlingame 20 South 5th St., Fernandina Beach 904-432-7671 burlingamerestaurant.com