Homemade soups, salads and an eclectic blend of internationally inspired sandwiches are just a few of the items on the menu at Flavor Palette, which opened last week in the Ponte Vedra Pointe Shopping Center.
The sandwich shop and its diverse menu are the culinary creation of Chef Tommy McDonough, who recently moved from Philadelphia to the First Coast with his wife and two children.
“I got my start working in the iconic sandwich shops of Philly,” said McDonough, who went on to work for two decades in a variety of culinary and executive chef positions before opening his own business. “I was fortunate to work under culturally diverse chefs from places like Taiwan, India, Germany, Korea and Belgium. I picked up things from each of them, which has helped me develop my own style as a chef and become more dynamic.”
All of the signature sandwiches are McDonough’s original creations, unique combinations. The “Boss Hogg” sandwich, for example, features pastor-marinated pork topped with cucumber-avocado salsa, salsa verde, black bean hummus and picked red onions on an Amoroso hoagie roll. The “Samurai,” meanwhile, is a miso-marinated fish sandwich topped with grilled scallions, cucumber, cabbage slaw and a sesame pickled ginger aioli on a wrap.
Other internationally inspired offerings include Pountine, which the menu describes as a Canadian French fry dish topped with gravy, cheddar, bacon, caramelized onions and scallions. The menu also includes a “create your own masterpiece” option whereby customers can build their own custom sandwich from a selection of breads, toppings and meats, chicken or fish.
“I like big, bold flavors,” said McDonough, noting that Flavor Palette also has a kids’ menu with traditional items such burgers and a grilled cheese sandwich. “We have options for people who are a little adventurous, but our menu is really designed to appeal to a vast array of palates.”
Hence the restaurant’s name. “It’s a play on words,” said McDonough’s wife, Jamie, taking a quick break from waiting on lunchtime customers. “It refers to an artist’s palette and the palate of your mouth.”
The shop’s logo, in fact, features a sandwich in the shape of an artist’s palette – a nod to the artistic flair McDonough tries to bring to each creation, including the shop’s salads, soups and desserts. On a recent visit, the soups of the day included chimichurri and ribolita – a hearty Tuscan vegetable – while the homemade gelatos available included mint lemonade sorbet, chocolate amaretto and strawberry balsamic swirl.
“Everything here is made from scratch,” McDonough said. “Some gelato shops use bases or stabilizers, but we use only fresh, natural ingredients.”
Open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Flavor Palette has been doing brisk business since it opened March 29. “We opened our doors and within 10 minutes we had 30 people in line!” McDonough said.
Flavor Palette plans to have an official grand opening in the coming weeks. Also in the works are plans to offer wine and a selection of craft beers.