Gas Full Service Restaurant is quickly becoming one of the most notable and beloved restaurants in St Augustine. Located right over the bridge on Anastasia Island, the restaurant itself is casual and unassuming. Themed in what else but a gas station decor, Gas is one of those restaurants where you just feel at home when you walk in. Gas specializes in the over the top–huge burgers, massive comfort food platters, and decadent desserts. We visited recently on a Saturday night and it was absolutely packed. They don’t take reservations for tables less than 6, so we waited shortly over an hour to be seated. During our wait, we sat by the back bar on the inside of the restaurant and we were waited on promptly by the bartender who was handling the crowd like a champion. The back bar is by the entrance to the kitchen and they were churning out food at a rapid pace the entire night, balancing trays and moving through the crowds in the small restaurant with ease. When we were seated, we were helped immediately and enthusiastically by a waitress who was not even the least bit flustered by the sheer quantity of people around her. I respected her poise under pressure!
For starters, we opted for the Reuben Egg Rolls and the Fried Green Tomatoes.
These arrived extremely quickly which is good because after smelling the food passing by from the kitchen for so long we were famished. Our thoughts were with this that we could try the most unique and the most standard appetizers on the menu to get a grasp on the range of the kitchen. The Reuben Egg Rolls are stuffed with corned beef, sauerkraut, and swiss cheese and deep fried in an eggroll with a russian dressing on the side. The corned beef was tender and shredded down into thin sheets with crisp sauerkraut and lots of tangy swiss. The flavors were all competing and balanced at the same time. It’s everything you’d want captured from a traditional reuben and presented in a delicious new way. The russian sauce took us all by surprise. Often it is overly sweet, but this sauce was only mildly sugary and that made it a great compliment to cut down on the salt from the other ingredients in the egg roll. This appetizer won a lot of awards in our books, we were impressed. The Fried Green Tomatoes fell a little short for us and it was simply because they were cut way too thin. With as thin of a cut as they use, there just isn’t enough to hold the batter in place. As soon as we cut into these they basically fell apart and we had to chase the batter crumbles around the plate to reattach them to the tomatoes. I feel like this also caused it to lose the bite of a nice tart green tomato that southerners are used to. These were served with ranch, but again with them falling apart it made it a little difficult to dip.
I feel like we barely had to wait at all for our entrees, and again this impressed me with the coordination of their behind the scenes staff. As busy as it was I expected a short delay in entree delivery but there was none at all. We chose the Shrimp and Grits, one of the dishes Gas is well known for, Chicken and Biscuits, and the Meatloaf. The Shrimp and Grits had some of the creamiest grits I’ve eaten, and coming from Mississippi I have eaten a LOT of grits. There must be a copious amount of cream cheese blended into these to make them this texture. They’re covered in seared, crispy andouille sausage and grilled shrimp all in a light and mildly spicy cream sauce. There are a lot of good shrimp and grits along our coast, but these are some of the best. There was no shortage of shrimp or sausage and I could only eat about half of the entree before having to box the rest for a next day meal that was equally as good as the first time. The Meatloaf entree was just as this well loved comfort food should be. The meatloaf itself was light and fluffy and came with a spicy ketchup that amped up the traditional sweet condiment pairing. We got two sides with this. The first side was a heavily whipped scoop of parmesan and garlic mashed potatoes. The garlic was the predominant flavoring in the potatoes, in fact we really didn’t taste the parmesan. It didn’t detract from the potatoes though, they were amazing. The other side was creamed spinach and was simple and basic as it should be. Creamed spinach done well needs little seasoning. The meatloaf, spinach, and mashed potatoes created a perfect nostalgic meal that brought us all back to our childhoods. Our final entree, the Chicken and Biscuits is simply colossal. There is no other describing term for the size of this entree. We were basically presented with an entire chicken perched atop a fluffy and moist biscuit. The chicken was deep fried to crispy brown and extremely juicy. The biscuit was on top of a very herbal gravy that tasted earthy and light and packed with sweet peas, carrots, green beans, and corn. It was a great hybrid between chicken and biscuits and a deconstructed chicken pot pie. This entree could also comfortably serve two people.
While Gas Full Service is known for their award winning over the top burgers, the real gems on this menu are their southern down home comfort food staples that warm your body and soul. Nothing is heavily seasoned, the fresh meats and vegetables are well prepared and speak for themselves. The food is classic and timeless. The service follows suit, you’re just family visiting a friend’s home. It was great to watch the owner walking around and bussing tables and checking on customers herself, that shows the dedication that they have to the experience of each diner. Whether you’re craving soul food, a relaxed atmosphere, or a burger fit for a king, Gas Full Service will please across the board.