Day Trip to St. Augustine – Dinner at A1A Ale Works and a Bryan Adams Concert

This past Sunday, my friend Joan and I made a day trip up to St. Augustine. Our primary goal was to see one of our favorites, Bryan Adams, in concert at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, but we figured we’d go early and try out one of their restaurants.

St. Augustine Bridge of Lions

We left around 2pm and got up there just before 4pm, slowed slightly by a thunderstorm en route. But as we rolled into the Historic Downtown area, it was sunny skies.

My connection at the St. Augustine CVB recommended A1A Ale Works as a restaurant to try, citing their craft brews and water-side dining. The restaurant is actually upstairs in a converted building on the corner next to the historic Bridge of Lions, with a bar area downstairs.

The menu is upscale pub food, with a heavy emphasis on seafood. We shared the Pepper Jack Nacho Platter, which was presented spread out on paper on top of a wooden plank with a bowl of salsa in the middle. It was good, but it’s hard to mess up nachos.

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For my main dish, I went light with a cup of their A1A Ale & Cheese Soup ($4.95), which was served with a small roll of dark German-style bread for dipping. I would definitely order this again. It’s one of the best beer cheese soups I’ve ever had (even better than Le Cellier at Walt Disney World!).

Joan had the Ragtime Shrimp Dinner ($14.75), featuring several pieces of shrimp dipped in beer batter, tossed in coconut, and deep fried. It was served with a Caribbean honey mustard sauce, black beans & rice, and grilled vegetables. She really liked the shrimp and sauce, but thought the rest of the dish was rather plain.

We paired our meal with a sampler of the A1A Ale Works brews ($6.25), which featured 4oz pours of their seven brews. My favorites were the Red Brick Ale (a caramel tinged red ale), A Strange Stout (a hearty stout with chocolate tones), and the Dunkelweizen (a traditional German brew that is somewhere between a summer wheat and a chocolate stout).

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We both liked the A1A Ale Works, and would eat here again. Or just come for a brew and appetizers. The only downside to the restaurant is that parking in that area is difficult at best. But if you want to check it out, A1A Ale Works is located at 1 King Street in St. Augustine. For more information, including menus, visit a1aaleworks.com.

Once we got to our car, it was a quick drive over the Bridge of Lions (see photo at top) and a mile or so down the road to the St. Augustine Amphitheater, where Bryan Adams would take the stage for his only Florida date on this leg of his tour.

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It was our first time at the venue and we liked it. It was smaller than we expected, with not really a bad seat in the house, except for a few obstructed views due to poles. Most of it is covered, except for section 300 in the back, which came in handy when the daily Florida summer thunderstorm blew through right before the show was to start.

The staff was pleasant, and extra thanks to GM Ryan Murphy for smoothing out a small snafu prior to the show. Bonus eco points to the venue for selling boxed water instead of bottled. The parking lot is tiny, but we managed to get in at the Elk’s Lodge next door, and it was just a short walk away.

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Bryan Adams came on stage a bit after 8pm, and since the tour was for the 30th anniversary of his classic “Reckless” album, he led off by playing the album live. So many hits off that album…”Run to You,” “Somebody,” “Summer of ’69,” “Heaven,” and his duet with Tina Turner, “It’s Only Love.” We were all singing and dancing to our favorites.

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He also played many of his other hits, taking time out to chat with the audience and his band. Other non-“Reckless” hits he performed included “I Do It For You,” “Please Forgive Me,” “Cuts Like a Knife,” and “The Only Thing That Looks Good on Me Is You.”

With every song, we were reminded just how good of a songwriter Bryan Adams is, and how much his music has been the backdrop for events in our life. In fact, many of the songs turned into full sing-alongs with the audience.

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He played almost two hours, closing his show with a brief encore that ended with just Adams on stage performing “Straight From the Heart” and “All For You” acoustically. The stripped down performance emphasized the beauty of the songs, and Adams’ voice. Even 30 years later that man can still hit all the notes.

Between the restaurant and the concert, it was a nice day trip up to St. Augustine. I would highly recommend it – especially since St. Augustine sometimes get artists that bypass the Orlando area. Next time I think we’ll leave in the morning and try to see a bit of the city, too.

For more information on St. Augustine, visit floridashistoriccoast.com for suggestions of places to see and eat. For a list of concerts coming to the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, check out our events calendar, or visit staugamphitheatre.com.

Disclaimer: I received concert tickets for purposes of review. I paid for my meal. As always, all opinions are my own.

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