Moxie is as Moxie Does (Photos, Video, Review) | Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails
Moxie is located at the St. Johns Town Center in Jacksonville, FL

I recently had the privilege of sitting down with Moxie Kitchen + Cocktail’s owners Chef Tom Gray and Sarah Marie Johnston as they opened their doors, and hearts to me. Five pages of notes later, I’m excited to tell to you their story.

Beyond the modern structure and visual eye candy that is Jacksonville’s newest hot spot, lay a bigger story I wanted to uncover. The story of a leader, and a mentor… an innovator, and a pioneer…

The Heart of a Leader
Business Partners
Chef Tom Gray and wife Sarah Marie Johnston
Without heart, there is no dish. This is why I yearn to discover the story behind the creator. Therein you will understand the epicenter of inspiration. A truly great chef will have a story to match. Chef Tom Gray is no exception. 
Moxie is a drink found in
New England, a throw back to Chef Gray’s childhood
A pillar in the first coast’s culinary community, Gray’s history at Bistro Aix is well known and admired. In fact many of the rising chefs in the river city spent time alongside Chef Tom coming into their own under his encouragement. When asked about his leadership philosophy, Tom acknowledged that he himself learned by being mentored and coached, and admitted that investing in others is a valuable way to grow your network. He also insisted, “The more you share, the more your knowledge base grows. Every member makes an impact on the success or failure of a team.” 
It is with this collective approach, that he infuses his mission into the very infrastructure of his newest project. A project that embodies a fresh new vision. One that owns a unique imprint on the community, full of new tastes, smells, and expressions. A team effort all it’s own. 
Full Circle Approach
Moxie reduces their carbon footprint
 by filtering their own water.
Over the five hour period I spent interviewing/documenting/reviewing Moxie I personally witnessed the “Full Circle Approach” they are dedicated to. From inception the partners knew they wanted a larger picture for this destination than would be labeled by the single dimension of the “farm to table” title. For the creators, this concept was about community, responsibility, and doing the right thing. With this motive they dedicated themselves to going the extra mile.
Chef Tom goes the extra mile by bailing,
 and recycling cardboard instead of tossing it in the waste.
Restaurants are notoriously famous for their high levels of consumption and impact on the environment. At Moxie, strides have been taken to reduce their carbon footprint from the ground up. Utilizing recycled concrete and steel, reclaimed wood, and energy efficient utilities were just the beginning. Investment into a top of the line water purification system eliminated the waste of potentially millions of plastic water bottles, while maintaining the purity and quality guests demand. Some businesses may think acquiring a cardboard compactor/bailer would be unnecessary, but to Chef Tom and Sarah Marie, putting what would be piling up in land mines somewhere to good use through recycling was simply the right thing to do. In this way Moxie sets the example for other eateries by being the trail blazers in eco-friendly restauranteering. 
Visually stunning, Moxie was built with eco friendly standards.
On the Menu:
Seared Octopus
chorizo, mache, yuzu, corn nuts, black garlic, olivecrisp
There is no question their continued relationship with local and organic purveyors increases their customer satisfaction and impact on the local economy, while of course just making good sense. 
Go with your Gut
On the Menu:
Kale Salad
candied pecans, beets, apple, aged goat cheese, pomegranate vinaigrette
Moxie’s story reveals the life and times of Chef Tom Gray. His experiences from coast to coast and the life he has lived between them. The menu can be described as fun, bold, and perhaps even a little bit whimsical. Tom explained that while envisioning the menu, he chose purposefully to cut a new path in the Jacksonville foodie scene. Including adventurous choices like octopus and chicken livers, instead of calamari, and wings. That doesn’t mean he didn’t pull from popular trends like his Kale salad, and traditional favorites like Chicken Pot Pie. Diversity, he expressed is as important to building a menu, as listening to what your guest wants. 
On the Menu:
Crispy Chicken Livers
hot sauce, celery, blue cheese
Story upon story was revealed to me while doing this review of the extra steps taken to assure the very best quality ingredients are included in each dish. It was important to Chef Gray that I understood that choices are made daily to improve upon the day before. From comparing viscosity in maple syrup, to choosing a rare gluten free soy sauce, each choice builds upon the next. “Some people think I’m never happy.” Gray confided in me, “It’s not that, I just want to keep discovering, and keep pushing that edge. Every day is a new slate. Today was great yes, but tomorrow is a whole new day.” 

On the Menu:
East and West Coast Oysters
pink peppercorn-apple mignonette and cocktail sauce
Kitchen + Cocktails
Chef Tom invited me back for a tour of the kitchen and walk in,
allowing me to inspect their locally sourced fare, and prep stations.
Bold choices went beyond building supplies, and ingredients. Moxie’s transparent approach brings the patron into the experience by making their open kitchen the focal point of the restaurant. Any guest is welcome to observe the crews efficient process of creating and executing your meal. This visual entertainment also whets your appetite for your next menu choice. I’ll have one of each thank you!
While your tastebuds are making new discoveries try their full menu of hand crafted cocktails. With names like “Walk Don’t Run”, and “Lorem Ipsum” you are bound to have some fun trying each one. Their standard of excellence maintains consistency with their premium well program and visually appealing yet purposeful ice cubes (designed for the perfect melting ratio). 
Moxie Hand Crafted Cocktails
The Fall Cup
Walk Don’t Run
Lorem Ipsum
Now Serving Brunch
Is this not the very image of a pioneer? Shattering stereotypes, and boundaries with each new day. The first coast’s foodie landscape is a better place thanks to Chef Tom Gray, and his wife and business partner Sarah Marie. I’m thankful for the legacy they are building here on the first coast, and proud to be a voice praising their efforts. 
Try Moxie for your next date night or get together with friends. They recently revealed their brunch and I can’t wait to try for myself!
Until then…
Enjoy the Journey!
xo- Amy West
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Get caught up on my entire Date Night Destinations of the First Coast series..
Watch Amy discuss all five of her Date Night Destinations of the First Coast on New 4 Jax Here