Passport at The Art Institute of Jacksonville


The Art Institute of Jacksonville
8775 Baypine Rd Jacksonville, FL
904 486 3000


The Art Institute of Jacksonville, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design, houses  Passport, is the teaching dining room of The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Jacksonville. Everything served at Passport is prepared by upper-level students under the supervision of our expert chef instructors. The wait staff are upper-level students engaged in learning dining room management skills under the direction of our dining room instructor. Your support of our students’ culinary education is very much appreciated!

Passport’s tempting menu offers fine dining served in a relaxed environment. A variety of selections are offered for every course, and menus change each quarter.

Passport is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm

The above is the blurb from the web site not this blogger.  Now my thoughts.  I am going to keep in mind this is a learning environment and  I am not eating at the Four Seasons.

First if you have any interest in eating here know you must make reservations by calling the  number above or booking through Open Table, this is not a big deal most of us do that anyway.  The difficulty is in getting a reservation.  Only being open two days a week for a few hours the smart diners fill it up.   I would not advise just strolling in the door.

When you arrive  park in the free garage and when you enter the building, take the elevator up to the third floor, and follow your nose.

Now the “fine dining” “relaxed environment” statement.  We arrived a little early for our meal, the dining room was already full, there are only a few tables and a large party was in full swing.  We were greeted and told our table would be available shortly, when shortly came we were seated at a table that still had the soiled table-cloth from the last party.  Someone, I presume it was the dining room instructor, rushed over and promptly and smoothly slid a new cloth on the table, down with the napkin wrapped silver and we were in. Our server arrived and gave us the run down on how everything works, presented our menus and said he would be right back to take our order.  At this time we were not made aware that you must order all your food before the one o’ clock.  No bread arrived, I don’t know if this is the norm, we decided not to ask.  When he returned we ordered some small plates, thinking we could wait to see how hungry we were and order a large plate later.  When we told him this that is when he informed us of the food curfew.  We asked for a few more moments and sent him off to get our small plates.  We chose the Mayport Shrimp & Grits as well as the Smoked Chicken Tortilla Soup and  the Steak and Cheese Eggroll to share.  The wait was a little longer than expected but this is a teaching environment and we were in no hurry.  When the dishes arrived we were pleasantly pleased.  A different spin on the usual Shrimp and Grits dishes we have all become used to and the soup was a just delightful in every way.  We made no comment on the Eggroll.

Mayport Shrimp and Grits

Smoked Chicken Tortilla Soup


Steak and Cheese Eggroll


Although the Shrimp and Grit dish  looked good  sadly it did not live up to its potential.  Shrimp small and overcooked, and the Grit cake while flavorful and moist on the inside, was oily and unpleasant on the first bite.  The soup on the other had been an amazing combination of color, flavors and textures.  I delighted in every taste.  I was torn over the Steak and Cheese Eggroll, as was my companion.  Billed as  Korean marinated sirloin, shiitake, onions, pepper jack and jalapeno jam everything just ran together.  The meat was exceptionally tender and full flavored, but we tasted nothing else, plus the wrapper was a little on the heavy side and retained the cooking oil.  I did manage to rescue some of the jam and found it quite zesty and tasteful.  Too bad it all got lost.  We did give our additional orders when these plates arrived as well as our dessert requests.  So we finished up our first course, and waited for the Large Plates to arrive

Shortly  our waiter was back with, what our desserts?   Yep just smiling away there he stood and was puzzled why we were not smiling with him.  My companion explained we had not yet had our main and would he be kind enough to take the dessert away and bring us our food. And I’m thinking; yes please before the curfew.   After a brief interlude, the requested plates arrived.  Me the Kinda’Cuban and my companion chose the Argentinian Skirt Steak.  I have no idea why I ordered what I did I have never liked “Cuban” sandwiches well that was until today.  This dish blew me away.  A combination of smoked ham, espresso spiced pork shoulder, sweet mustard, baby swiss I was transported to a new level of food heaven.  Plus is was huge.  As much can be said for the Argentinian Skirt, the meat was so flavorful and tender it was a melt in you moth event.  The wilted watercress added just the correct amount of tartness and complimented  the yellow pepper sauce.  The coconut sticky rice starch  was a throw away,  too sweet for a dish such as this.

Kinda’ Cuban


Argentinian Skirt Steak


Finally our waiter was ready to bring out the desserts; one Classic Lemon Tart and one Dark Chocolate Terrine.  Both of these desserts one would order again and again. Although a little thin, the tart was so very tart, velvety  and the crust just the correct amount of what every makes tart crust melt in your mouth.  I have meet chocolate I did not like but not today.  I managed to eat every morsel of this dish and used my finger to  blot the Creme Anglaise off the plate.  Classy.

Lemon Tart Cinnamon Creme


Dark Chocolate Terrine Creme Anglaise


So all told we ate all that food for  a grand total of 26.00$$$ and change.  I have eaten less for more and came away not happy.  Today we came away trying to figure out when the menu is going to change, so we can go back.

It is good to see people working on their passion especially when  it shows up in the food.  Who knows perhaps in that kitchen the next Thomas Keller or Eric Ripert is working away.  We can only hope.

On an aside here. after we paid the check we sat and chatted for a few moments, our waiter showed up with the last thing we needed but I wanted to kiss him.





Passport on Urbanspoon


Categories: American Food

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