Northeast Florida and food go hand in hand. With our rich culinary history that is deeply rooted in Southern influence and affected by our ever-changing population, our food scene here is always creating a multitude of badass, mouth-watering and scrumptious bites. To celebrate this, Void is launching our Bold Bites section that will feature a new local dish each month in the mag, but even more on the Bold Bites Instagram page. Give them a follow and you’ll always be on the cutting edge of culinary delights in the 904. For our first edition, we decided to highlight the Blind Rabbit’s Southern Burger.
What was the inspiration behind the Southern Burger?
Jeff: The Southern Burger is everything The Blind Rabbit is between two buns. It’s unique, bold, spicy, sweet, salty, local and the best damn burger in Jacksonville. When coming up with the menu, the objective was simple: create a matrix with innovative burgers + sides + sauces. We needed a burger to represent my Southern Creole roots and the Southern Burger is just that.
Why do you think it’s important to focus on Southern-inspired foods?
Jeff: The importance of a focus on good Southern food was all but forgotten in Jacksonville until the last few years. When we look at the landscape of restaurants in North Florida we find everything local but local cuisine. Our approach was simple: to execute our menu with regional traditions with a modern twist. Fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits and the Southern Burger are examples of keeping those traditions alive. On the beverage side we stay with a majority of our spirits and beers to represent our regional favorites, bourbon and craft beer. We do burgers and whiskey in our concept with a heavy emphasis on the South to continue to push the envelope of what Jacksonville cuisine is.
What do you think is people’s favorite part about it? Where do the ingredients in the burger come from?
Jason: I think that people’s favorite part of our Southern Burger is that it reminds them of their childhood, especially if you grew up here in Jacksonville or anywhere down south. I like to tell people it’s Jacksonville/Duval on a bun. You have all the elements of a classic down south burger, but with our own special touches — hence the name, “the Southern Burger.” The pimento cheese is made with blackened trinity (green peppers, yellow onion and celery) and is finished with our pretty well-known peach habanero hot sauce, which is what gives our pimento its identity. You also have a fried green tomato, which is about as Jacksonville as it gets, and it really adds a phenomenal crunch factor, along with that classic green tomato taste to an already sturdy base of flavor. Add on a piece of pickled okra to help cut through all those creamy flavors, and top it off with some more peach habanero hot sauce and some sweet Georgia cane syrup and arugula for good measure, and that, I believe, is as close as you can get to having Duval on a bun. I want people to leave after eating our Southern Burger feeling like, “So that’s what it’s like to have Jacksonville in my mouth.”