As they pass under the hanging gilded sign that's wrapped in climbing vines, visitors to The Tasting Room begin their journey into Florida's Spanish history. Upon entering, the sounds of live Spanish guitar fill the dining room, from its wrought-iron chandeliers and crimson walls to the heavy wooden tables and Spanish murals in vivid colors. Behind these rooms, wine racks displaying more than 1,000 international wines stretch from floor to ceiling, and Marseilles-born chef Matthieu Landillon runs his kitchen.
Under his direction, the culinary team draws inspiration from the surrounding sea, Spain's varied regions, and dreams where Pablo Picasso demands that they cook him a vibrant menu of small and large dishes. The team plates tapas to serve inside or on the patio—such as Florida Gulf red snapper in escabeche, basque chorizo, and goat-cheese terrine—and fashions larger entrees such as local seafood stew, churrasco-style flat-iron steak, and roasted butternut-squash risotto. The efforts of the chef, musicians, and sommeliers have earned The Tasting Room awards for Best Music, Best Wine List, and Best Upscale Dining in the Best of St. Augustine 2010 contest, as well as a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence in 2012.