Trey Wilder and Rick Kunzi began Treylor Park in a cozy little spot in downtown Savannah. After the enormous success of the restaurant and the addition of another Savannah location, the pair set their sights on St. Augustine. The loyal following that their original location had gained from Jacksonville and St. Augustine residents made the area a natural choice for expansion, and only a few short months ago, Treylor Park Nocatee opened its doors. And their “Southern with a serious twist” menu has already made them a popular local dining spot. “We wanted to create an approachable, unique concept with quality menu items that you can’t find anywhere else,” says Rick. “We like to say that you’ve had every ingredient on our menu before but never in these types of combinations.”
When we arrived, Rick started us off with the Chicken Pancake Tacos – the culinary incarnation of this resolve. The dish begins with a lightly-toasted peppered pancake filled with perfectly-fried chicken and topped with a chili aioli and a strawberry salsa. We were a little wary at first of a combination of ingredients that (like Rick warned) we’d certainly never encountered, but each component works together in complete harmony. Not one ingredient is too sweet or too savory, but all have just enough of each that you’ll be wondering where the pancake-chicken-strawberry-chili combo has been all your life.
Next to the table was the Poke Salad, a decidedly lighter option than what we had just eaten. Soy-glazed ahi tuna is served on a bed of mixed greens and tossed in a wasabi vinaigrette with pickled onions, cucumber kimchi, avocado, sesame seeds, ginger, and mango. It’s unashamedly flavorful, fresh, complex, and refreshing.
Now prepare yourself for the next dish, because though the Poke Salad was light and refreshing, the Treylor Park Nachos are not for the faint of heart. In true Treylor Park fashion, these nachos are not traditional nachos, per se; they are instead a nearly overwhelming plate of waffle fries, pickles, fried chicken, bacon, and cheddar cheese drizzled with a chive ranch and balsamic gastrique. Though they’re listed in the “Shares” section of the menu, there’s a very real chance you won’t want to – the flavors of these nachos are immense and addictive.
If those seem intimidating, though, and you’re in the market for something more handheld, we were also introduced to the Grilled Apple Pie Sandwich. It certainly isn’t the apple pie to which you might be accustomed, but at this point in the article, that should be expected. This delightful dish gives a signature twist to some favorites – cheddar, bacon, fried chicken, and cinnamon-roasted apples sandwiched between two slices of brioche. The apples add an unexpectedly sweet/spicy kick of cinnamon, and the result is superb.
We were also treated to the dish that made them stars – the PB&J Chicken Wings. Crispy and flavorful in their own right, these fried chicken wings are tossed in a peanut and pecan butter and peach jelly sauce that gives you just enough of the classic PB&J flavors that you’ll start feeling nostalgic for school lunches. But trust us when we say, these will put any childhood PB&J on white bread in a plastic bag to shame. They take all of the best ingredients and create an appetizer you won’t soon forget.
Now on to a personal favorite and a dish that I wish I could have daily in my home – the Fried Banana Pepper Rings. I tried these for the first time when I visited the original Treylor Park location in Savannah and had my fingers crossed that they would be served to us again. These bite-sized plays on onion rings and fried pickles are zesty and tangy with just the right amount of crunch. Once you begin to dip them in the chive buttermilk ranch, it won’t be long before the whole serving is gone.
After all this incredible food, you’re bound to get thirsty. Luckily, the bar at Treylor Park is just as imaginative as the kitchen. Gulp down the Grapeful Dead – vodka infused with grape Kool-Aid and garnished with a couple gummy bears – for an unusual take on the ordinary vodka soda. Channel your inner Elle Woods when you order the Illegally Blonde – vodka, St. Germaine elderflower liquor, lemon, and a splash of grapefruit. Or even take a chance on a Wicked Kiwi – jalapeno jam, Blanco tequila, lemon, lime, pineapple, and muddled kiwi slices.
Our sampling of dishes hardly touched Treylor Park’s enormous and memorable menu. Trey and Rick have created an unconventional but remarkable spot with a collection of culinary creations that are entirely unforgettable. If your experience is anything like ours, you’ll keep coming back for more.