You wouldn’t think it, but ground beef and rice in a wrapping of cabbage covered with tomato sauce is good. Really good. So good, that people like me make side trips to St. Augustine’s Gaufre’s and Goods restaurant to eat it on our way to weddings in Georgia. A house specialty, this dish served piping hot makes those reticent about eating ground beef think twice about abstaining.
Gaufre’s and Goods is a very small, mom-and-pop, Polish/Greek restaurant located down a back alley of the historic district of St. Augustine. Gaufre’s sits on a narrow street surrounded by restaurants that claim to be Cuban or Italian but generally fail to live up to their ethnic claims. Gaufre’s is the real deal, though. The décor is kind of underwhelming — from the ceramic fruits set up on the windowsill to the sea green walls. But it’s quaint, quiet, and a lovely little place at which to take a short rest after visiting the nation’s oldest schoolhouse and coquina-encrusted fort.
Their signature dish — the stuffed cabbage — is DELICIOUS. I was introduced to it last year on a planning trip for my best friend’s wedding. And again, you wouldn’t expect it, looking at the above picture. But when you bite into it — oh, the wonder! It’s hearty and comforting on a windy day in March and savory and filling on a hot day in August.
So the decorations aren’t stunning, and the pierogis aren’t great. But there’s that gem on the menu, and when you find it, it doesn’t matter what color the walls are painted, because it’s like a little treasure that defies preconceived notions and expectations. Perhaps part of its goodness comes from this quality of surprise. It changes the way one looks at ground beef and cabbage and tomato sauce, and from a palate that is frequently cautious and wary, what a welcome change it is indeed.
Previously from Laura Creel:
♦ Endless Highway: An Interview with Kelley McRae
♦ Morning Radio Surprisingly Insightful in Wake of Mike Rice Scandal
♦ Remembering Trololos
♦ A Beatles’ Album Cover Gives Us Pause
♦ Found Canaletto = Treasure Story Surprise!