Palm Coast Coffee and Cafe, St. Simons Island GA

In August, the four of us took another trip down to Saint Simons Island for a long weekend with Marie’s family. We scheduled the trip to coincide with her brother Karl’s vacation, all the better to sample the soaps that he’s been brewing at home – I’m really not at all sure how one judges soaps other than whether they get you clean and smell decent, which these do, but I’m really happy that he’s found such a unique hobby and hope that a fine profit can be extracted from it – and for the two siblings and their mother to spend hours playing these bizarre games that nobody else plays. This time out, one of the major attractions was something called Alahambra, which was uncannily like a “game” that my third grade teacher tried playing with us in math class in a failed attempt to con us into thinking that arithmetic is fun.

Now, prior to this trip, my daughter and I protested that we’ve really been getting the short end of the stick as far as meals on the island go lately. We’ve always established that Marie is in charge of the social calendar when we are visiting, as it’s her family we are there to see. Now, prior to starting the blog, we learned that there are a heck of a lot of fantastic places to eat in Glynn County, but many of these are restaurants we have not revisited since we got started, never mind all the highly-regarded joints that I’ve been anticipating a visit for four years or something. (About which, more Monday.) There are, simply, too many wonderful restaurants to visit in a single weekend, even a long one, and no time to waste. When you factor in our natural desire to revisit really great places like CJ’s Italian Restaurant and new favorites like Palmer’s, and the reality that Marie’s mother makes some terrific meatballs, there is simply no point wasting time on even a single substandard meal out. I’m still thanking Holy Joe Zagat, great god of restaurant critics, that I found something decent to eat at that Golden-This-Happy-That Chinese place we somehow found ourselves in the last time. That just had to be divine intervention.

So this was our thinking as my daughter and I let our outrage bubble over and gave Marie a playful earful about all the places that we weren’t eating on Saint Simons. “Palm Coast!” I shouted. “Iguanas!” my daughter yelled. “Brogen’s!” I hollered. “Crab Trap!” she roared. “And let’s not forget,” I said, poking the table with my index finger, “that when you first took us down to meet your family, I pointed out to you a certain barbecue restaurant that has since been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives which we have still not visited, not even once.” I said that this had simply gone too far, and if this rampant thoughtlessness about our dining continued unchecked, then I would have no choice but to excuse myself around lunchtime on the Saturday and eat my way up and down Mallery Street and Marie would just have to contend with a bologna and cheese sandwich or something. There’s usually a can of Diet Coke in the fridge at Marie’s dad’s guest house.

Marie conceded instantly. The thought of me eating without a chaperon naturally horrified her. She agreed that we’d collect some better places for the blog. “I’ll leave it to your expertise and judgment,” I said.

On our way down to the island – we left before the sun rose, so as to be there for lunch – Marie’s mother telephoned to ask what time we’d be there and where we were going to eat. “We’ll be there around noon and I don’t know where we’re eating,” I said. “Marie won’t tell me.”

Marie, driving, shot out a hand, silently commanding me to quit being an asshole and hand the phone over at once. I don’t know why she was aggravated. Just because I left it to her expertise and judgment where we would be eating and didn’t actually ask where it was didn’t make it any less true that she wouldn’t tell me.

Marie, then forgetting the name of the restaurant, reminded her mother that they were going to eat at “that place with the porch,” which didn’t satisfy my surprise-hating daughter, but pleased me to no end. That Golden-This-Happy-That Chinese place doesn’t have a porch.

The place with the porch that they were talking about is Palm Coast, and that satisfied me, because I have eaten here twice before and think it is just a splendid little sandwich shop with pretty good food and excellent service. I actually found myself stopping in here twice on the visit two and a bit years ago when Marie and I married under the Saint Simons Lighthouse. On one occasion, I enjoyed a cup of really super gazpacho, and on the other, my groomsmen and I decamped here for a few last cups of coffee and pints of beer after we got fed up with all the noise and racket at Brogen’s. It’s a good place.

Our daughter dug into a slice of excellent red velvet cake. Karl had some chicken kabobs over lettuce and a bowl of portabella mushroom soup. Marie’s mother had a ham and cheese wrap. Marie enjoyed a tomato sandwich with a bottle of Mexican Coka and I had pimento cheese with pasta salad. Everything was very good, and, perhaps most importantly on a blisteringly hot day like this, simple. We had a fine chance to catch up and talk about the baby.

The girlchild was chomping at the bit to be set free so she could attack the vintage clothing stores, so we let her go on her way. I realized that, strangely, I didn’t have a great deal to say about our meals. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have any gazpacho when we visited, but the sandwich was just fine. They make splendid pimento cheese here. If anything, the sandwich was actually overstuffed with it.

This was the first of several good meals on the island over the weekend. Say what you will about Marie, but she sure can come through with just a little teasing.


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