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Michael W. Smith

Self Nurturing: Creative Surroundings

I have already mentioned in another posting, Self Nurturing- GrillSmith Of Tampa, FL, that I really appreciate good food.  I think the preparation of food is an art of its own.  Good cooking is definitely a God-given talent.  The skillful combination of the flavors, the colors, and the textures of different kinds of food along with the pleasing presentation to the client is as creative as painting a picture.  So just imagine blending these two creative arts together!

In the past couple of months I’ve established a new routine for myself that brings me much joy.  On the first Sunday of each month I go to St. Augustine, Florida to walk and meditate in the labyrinth that my friend Lorelei creates in the wet sand at low tide.  It is a wonderful time of going inwards to my God-centered self.  I shared that experience in a previous posting, Labyrinth Meditation At The Beach.  What I didn’t mention in that posting is what I do before I get to the labyrinth.

Part of this new routine includes a stop at another location in St. Augustine to have brunch.  It’s a restaurant called Zhanra’s which is just across the Bridge of Lions on Anastasia Island.  Richard and I tried Zhanra’s about a year ago when we went to see Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman in concert at the St. Augustine Amphitheater.  We had an excellent dinner and were very impressed by the menu choices, the presentation, and the good and friendly service.  The prices were very reasonable too.

The restaurant itself is very welcoming and warm.  The decor does not follow the usual pattern or design of most of the “chain” restaurants.  It is very simple and unique.  When you walk in there is a long serving counter on the wall immediately opposite the front door.  To the right there is a very accommodating bar that has tall tables and stools where you can also dine, while to the left is the main dining area.

But what adds to the decor and makes Zhanra’s so special is the art work on the walls.  It is bright and beautiful and very eclectic and showcases a great variety of artist’s work.  These paintings are up for sale, so while you are eating you can also appreciate and even acquire a great piece of art.  Because the art is sold, or because the artists choose to rotate their work out from time to time, new pieces appear from one visit to another.

An interesting feature connected to the art work is found in a corner of the main dining room.  A small working space is set up and I believe that some of the artists come in from time to time to work on a piece while the diners are enjoying their meal. 

When Richard and I made our first visit to Zhanra’s we knew we would be back again because it was very good and because it was different.  So when we learned that they offered a Sunday brunch from 10am to 2pm we chose to make it a stop on one of our Harley rides.  And we were hooked!  We have been back twice as a couple and I have returned twice with friends and yet another time we both went back with a small group. 

So let me walk you through the brunch process. You are seated by the host/hostess and a server takes your drink order immediately.  Large and small plates are provided on the table and you can go to the buffet freely.  However, we always wait so that we can put in our order with our server for waffles or French toast. I have never eaten the waffles because I am so addicted to their French toast which is, in my opinion, food of the gods!!   

The long serving counter that I mentioned in a previous paragraph is laden down with all things scrumptious for the brunch.  There is a chef at one end who will cook omelets to your specifications.  As you proceed along the counter there are hot containers with quiche, grits, scrambled eggs, apple smoked bacon and sausages (my personal favorite!), fresh melt-in-your-mouth biscuits and gravy, and the best home-fried potatoes I have ever tasted.  And just in case you need to start your brunch with a soup there are two offered, one of which is usually a great gumbo.

But it doesn’t stop there!  As you turn the corner of the buffet counter there are several large trays.  One is piled high with a mountain of freshly cut fruit in season.  Another contains pre-cut bagels of every description, and beside that there is a tray full of different Danish pastries cut up into bite size chunks so that you can try the different types.  Yet one more container holds muffins just to round out your choices.

All this for the princely sum of $9.99 plus drink.  It has to be the best value and one of the best dining and creative art experiences that I have ever enjoyed.   By the way, I forgot to mention that the art exhibits continue on into the bathrooms and Zhanra’s offers another creative art form too.  Most nights there is different live music to enjoy.  So go and satisfy the artist in your soul.  I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

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