Since I’m living in Hammock Beach during the week this school year, I decided to review some of the restaurants along Highway A1A. Tonight I’m cheating a little, because the Atlantic Grille is on 16th Road, a stub off of A1A but a short walk through the jungle from my tiny beach rental house. The numbered grid of the road system here adds to the mysterious charm of The Hammock—where are the other 15 roads??

Anyway, the Atlantic Grille is not a dive, but I won’t hold that against it. There was a pretty bad storm as I was leaving the school, so I wanted to get dinner in a substantial building. The Atlantic Grill is a large dining room with big windows overlooking the ocean. The dining room and the ocean were both decorated in every possible variation of grey-green. My table gave me a beautiful view of the dunes and sky.

I restricted myself to the “starters” part of the menu—public school teacher and so on—but it was a feast. The dinner rolls that I’m pretty sure are complimentary were glazed with Cajun butter. I would have actually asked for additional butter but I’m trying to be a better person and that starts with less butter. The waiter recommended the bang bang shrimp, which were soaked in white sauce and were the thing I’ll remember most about this day when I’m reminiscing in twenty years.

I also ordered their macaroni and cheese. I have a pretty specific definition in my head of what macaroni looks like—I grew up on Kraft dinner and happiness—but this was upscale macaroni with that cork-screw shaped pasta called cavatappi. It was delicious and could have easily been shared by two people, if I knew anyone here, or if I was willing to share food at a restaurant—which I do not and I am not.

Atlantic Grille is a little on the fancy side for me, more something I would enjoy on a vacation with family, but the food was good, the waiter knew his stuff, and the view was relaxing and beautiful.

Jamie Brendlinger is the theater instructor at Matanzas High School and owns Duckie’s Vintage in Oviedo, Florida. He is currently refurbishing a 1973 Eldorado convertible that he drives up and down A1A looking for the best mac and cheese and the best deals on used records.