Congaree and Penn: A Craft-Farm Dining Experience

By Laura Riggs

What started as a small rice farm in 2014 has quickly grown into an indispensable part of Jacksonville’s fine dining scene. Located 20 minutes northwest of downtown, Congaree and Penn thrives on their dedication to agriculture and culinary endeavors while inviting the community to enjoy both. Owners Scott and Lindsay Meyer decided early on to collaborate with restaurants to bring innovative flavors to Jacksonville while supporting the local food economy. Within a couple of years, they began hosting occasional chef-led dinners out in their fields before hiring a team of culinary experts to create a craft-farm dining experience like no other in the region.

Now home to the largest Mayhaw orchard in the world, along with a variety of vines, produce, herbs, wildflowers, and a variety of farm animals, Congaree and Penn offers Jacksonville a culinary destination in which to slow down and savor an exquisite menu while taking in the views of the 300+ acres of tranquility. Guests are invited to come early to tour the farm, meet the horses, pick flowers, or perhaps take a wagon ride before enjoying their meal. Fire pits and rocking chairs scattered along a hand-laid brick patio invite diners to enjoy the breathtaking sunsets over a glass of wine and dessert. 

Staying true to the slow food movement, menus change seasonally, and winter crops are now transitioning to spring. The property supplies nearly 80% of the menu; the remainder is gathered from nearby farms. Created by chefs Andrew Blanton, Steve Crawford, and Zackary Evans, the spring menu looks as lovely as it tastes. Playing off the strengths of each, planning for tasting events, weddings, fish fries, and everyday dining is divided equally among the three. Crawford focuses on catering and events and has been part of the team prior to the pandemic. “When everything shut down, Scott paid us for as long as he could to volunteer with Feeding Northeast Florida,” Crawford shares. “We set up their program to build food boxes from all of the produce that was coming in from nearby farms.” 

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Author: Arbus

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