Vintage Ice Plant Puts Block of Historic Florida on Ice

By Valerie Sisco, Culture with Travel Food Correspondent

Even in the middle of winter, the Ice Plant in St. Augustine, Florida, is a warm and toasty eating and drinking experience. Serving up farm-to-table cuisine and craft cocktails, the Ice Plant is a restaurant and vintage bar in a historic warehouse that once took on the ambitious task of providing blocks of ice to Floridians more than a hundred years ago.

The Ice Plant is housed in a building that was originally a power plant and later became the first Florida facility to manufacture ice. Vestiges of the original 1920s factory are still visible inside the impressively renovated space where on the second floor you can see the bridge crane sitting on rails over top of the bar. The crane was used to pick up huge blocks of ice and move them to areas in the warehouse where they were sent to trains or boats or sold to local residents and businesses, particularly fishermen.

 

Visitors can eat and drink and then take a museum tour of the old St. Augustine Distillery which is located next door to see how spirits were made. The building had been repurposed over the years as office space and then left vacant when the current owners presented their dream plans to the city of St. Augustine.

After obtaining approval, they worked to carefully preserve the character of the building while paying attention to the smallest details so visitors can experience this once-thriving business and historic warehouse space as it once might have been around the turn of the century.

I’m visiting on a warm afternoon and feel the cool ambiance as soon as I step inside the building. Mosaic floor tiles greet me and I climb the wooden staircase to the second floor dining room where vintage ice tongs hang on the walls and silver serving bowls line the shelves. Large windows light the industrial loft-like space, and the dark wood booths and tables create a cozy atmosphere. Even the restrooms stay true to the historic theme, resembling factory washrooms with black and white floor tiles and vintage basin sinks.

ice plant basin

ice plant tiles

Bartenders work at an impressive brick-walled bar with a large circular mirror as they serve up creatively crafted cocktails such as a Florida Mule or a Rum Tiki, made from artisanal, locally-sourced spirits.

ice plant bar

The menu features southern specialties of St. Augustine shrimp and grits with corn and okra, jerk-roasted pork sandwich with umami mango slaw and datil peppers, and buttermilk fried chicken and hoe cakes with collards and apricot butter.

I’m in time for weekend brunch and sample the avocado toast with feta cheese, apple-fennel salad, pickled jalapeño and chives, drizzled with honey and extra virgin olive oil. I also taste the seasoned potatoes with red peppers and onions, and a bowl of fresh citrus fruit with slices of apples and handfuls of blueberries. All of it is fresh and deliciously prepared.

ice plant avocado toast

ice plant fruit

St. Augustine is full of ancient spaces and historical places to stay and eat but the Ice Plant adds a new dimension to the city’s tourist attractions. It’s a peek inside the days of manufacturing before the age of modern conveniences and offers an enjoyable dining experience in an engaging environment.

ice plant warehouse windows

This winter if you’d like to cozy up to a cool bar or plant yourself in a historic trendy space with unique food and drinks {with plenty of ice of course}, make the Ice Plant your destination to come in out of the cold.

ice plant counter

The Ice Plant is located on Riberia Street, at the edge of the downtown district near Flagler College. It’s within walking distance of St. Augustine’s other historic sites of the Castillo de San Marcos and Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth, that are just a few (hundred) years older than the Ice Plant.

Valerie Sisco writes the blog, Grace with Silk. She lives in Orlando, Florida, where she’s dreaming of her next travel adventure. Follow her journeys via TwitterFacebook, and Instagram

4 thoughts on “Vintage Ice Plant Puts Block of Historic Florida on Ice

  1. This place sounds amazing! I love the floors!! What a beautiful description- feel like I have had a visit already! Thanks for sharing!

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