I recently had the opportunity to check out one of Jacksonville’s new ‘it’ restaurants, Ketchup in Mayport, and there’s a reason it’s currently the talk of the town!
Chef Ace French recently opened Ketchup on Mayport Rd, in a fun and casual environment he calls ‘beach-bum chic’. You’ll be treated to hand-made tables, room dividers made from repurposed doors, surf boards, and of course – Ketchup décor. Chef Ace created the menu himself after years in the industry at such local places as Two Dudes, Copper Tap House, and Poe’s Tavern. His menu features house made gourmet burgers and hot dogs, all made fresh with all natural ingredients and without fillers.
So where do I start when looking at this incredible menu? I opted for the Earphunk burger – a blackened burger topped with sautéed crawfish and melted blue cheese. This 8 oz patty, which was a hand ground blend of Black Angus and Applewood smoked bacon, was cooked to perfection and oozed incredible taste. The blend of blackening spices, salty melted blue cheese, crawfish, and burger patty just plain worked. Add in the soft bun made especially for Ketchup by a local bakery and you’ve got an unforgettable burger. In speaking with the executive chef, Ace French, some of their other most popular burgers include the Classic (freshly ground patty with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and cheese), the Mayport (freshly ground patty with fried shrimp, Atlantic Beach aioli, and melted Jack cheese), and the Tabitha’s Secret (freshly ground patty with sautéed mushrooms, fried mushrooms, and melted smoked gouda). All of the burgers are served in a fun way – in a dog dish along with a side of fries, onion straws, pear-wasabi slaw (which I particularly enjoyed), or a house salad.
I also had to try one of the gourmet hot dogs while I was there, because who doesn’t love a great hot dog?!?! There was one obvious choice this time, and it was called the Mayhem. This was a ½ pound all-beef house made hot dog wrapped in Applewood smoked bacon over fried jalapenos, then smothered with chili and shredded cheese. Seriously, you’ve got to try this hot dog, it’s a whole lot of incredible on a bun. Yes, there are other hot dogs on the menu that I’d like to try, but this is the one I will keep coming back to when I come back to Ketchup, it’s just that good. If you’re not a fan of the bacon or jalapenos, you could try the Windy City Dog (topped with mustard, relish, onion, roma tomatoes, a pickle spear, and jalapenos – just like the great dogs I’ve had at Wrigley Field) or the Good Charlotte Dog (a slaw dog with pear-wasabi slaw, onions, and mustard), but my money says the Mayhem is going to continue being their best seller.
Finally, I was talked into ordering dessert as well, because I obviously hadn’t eaten enough at this point, but it was well worth it! They recommended a new specialty which hasn’t made its way to the official menu yet – the Chocolate Badness. In a play off the state fair tradition of deep frying virtually anything, they’ve got an unbelievable chocolate brownie that has been deep fried, then drizzled with chocolate sauce. It’s then propped up on the plate with the word ‘Bad’ written in front of it in cherry sauce. My waistline may not be thrilled that I went for the Chocolate Badness, but my taste buds were beyond thrilled with what was set in front of me.
Ketchup is a fun restaurant that focuses on putting out great food without taking itself too seriously. Chef Ace has put together a very impressive menu with something for everyone, and he’s still got several tricks up his sleeve to be rolled out in the upcoming months. As the weather improves, the patio in front is going to be a perfect place to relax and enjoy some truly gourmet burgers and hot dogs. Do yourself a favor and go check out Ketchup – you won’t be disappointed!