Tag Archives: filet mignon

Riverside Cafe – Restaurant Review

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine and Vero Beach Foodie

Beachiest Kids Photo Contest

For my next tasting experience, I head to the island and to the historic Riverside Café!  This is just one of those places that define what Florida living is all about.  It’s located on the water, you can drive up in your boat, dock and get a bite to eat, and enjoy those spectacular sunsets!  Owners David and Ellen Lane took ownership of Riverside back in 2008.  David had been working at Riverside for over 24 years and his wife Ellen, 13 years as bartenders before taking ownership. They have a long history here and know this place and their customers very well.  Chef Brandon Howard is the creative genius in the kitchen and he seems to come up with some fun & creative dishes that keep the customers coming back for more.

Considering their location, I would consider this place truly a “hidden” gem, a local’s place if you will.  If you have not lived here long or are a tourist, I’m sure you passed by this place hundred times and did not know it was there.  Those of you that are more adept with technology I’m sure have found them and know what a treasure this place is to Vero.  Parking should not be too much of an issue with their main parking lot having quite a few spaces available, of which only a few are reserved for the Bait & Tackle shop located directly in front of the restaurant.  If the main lot is full, there is overflow just outside the lot with additional parking under the bridge.  As you enter the restaurant, you are instantly transported to old Florida with a cool laid-back vibe.  An interior dining room has several low top tables available if you prefer a quieter dining experience.  The main dining room has all high-top tables to help you better enjoy the 180-degree views of the water and plenty of seats available at the bar.  A stage is also in this room for live performances by local artists.  If you are lucky enough, Jake Owen may stop in for an impromptu performance from time to time.  If you would like to dine outside, they have a limited number of seats out on the dock so you may be in for a short wait if you prefer that option during peak hours.


Now let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer and what I had to eat and drink!

Pina Colada – ($8.00) –  Pina Colada is my go-to drink because I love coconut, so we decided to try one.  Served frozen in a tall glass, finished with whipped cream and a cherry.  It was light and refreshing with just the right amount of coconut flavor.  For me, it only gets better as it melts and becomes creamier.

Ahi Tuna Nachos – ($16.99) – I’ve been told that this dish is not to be missed so I was glad to see it when they brought it out for us to try.  A bed of seaweed is laid on the plate, house-made wontons are fried and overlapped with each other.  A generous portion of Yellowfin tuna tartar is laid on top, then its garnished with a sweet soy glaze and a cucumber & wasabi cream sauce.  Does it taste as good as it looks?  YES!!!  The tuna was very fresh, the wontons provided a satisfying crunch, and the sauces added tons of additional flavor with little to no heat.  It was awesome!

Drunken Sautéed Mussels – ($13.99) – I’ve seen, tried, and been served mussels at quite a few places during my reviews, and I think this might just be one of, if not the best I’ve tried yet.  Fresh mussels are steamed in white wine and served with a lemon, thyme, roasted garlic, and butter sauce.  The broth was the star of the dish as it was creamy and full of flavor.  The mussels were also larger than I’ve seen at other places and were very tender.  Three rolls on the side were provided so you can soak up all of that wonderful broth.

Grouper Ruben – ($MP) – Nothing says Florida like a classic Grouper Ruben!  Fresh grouper is fried and layered between rye bread with coleslaw, Swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing.  Potato salad and a pickle were served alongside.  The rye bread was perfectly toasted, the coleslaw gave it that satisfying crunch, and the grouper was light, flaky, and fatty.  It was delicious!

Filet Mignon Sandwich – ($14.99) – OMG that looks so good!  Made with thinly sliced grass-fed filet mignon and layered with mozzarella cheese, sautéed onions, a roasted red pepper remoulade, and served on a brioche bun.  The filet was cooked to medium rare and was very tender, the sautéed onions were nice and sweet, and the red pepper remoulade paired perfectly with the filet.  The French fries are also worth a mention here because they were larger than normal and had a satisfying crunch on the outside, yet were soft and fluffy inside like mashed potatoes.  It was amazing!

Mahi Caprese – ($25.99) – They say we eat with our eyes first and I think I devoured this one without even taking a bite!  The grilled Mahi is topped with sliced locally grown tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and drizzled with a sweet balsamic reduction sauce.  Rice and steamed veggies were served alongside.  The Mahi filet was huge, it goes all the way up and is leaning on the rice.  It was perfectly grilled and still very moist and flaky.  I don’t usually talk about the sides too much but the steamed veggies with a creamy butter sauce were outstanding. 

Crème Brulee of the Day – ($6.99) – The day we visited just happened to be Grand Marnier flavored Crème Brulee day and I’m happy that it was.  This was the most flavorful and creamy version I’ve ever had.  The wife and I were fighting over the last few bites, it was that good.

In Conclusion:

I can’t believe it’s been nearly 4 years since I first visited Riverside Café.  I’m kicking myself now for waiting so long to come back and rediscover it.  I do enough of these reviews that I don’t always appreciate the food as much as I should when I’m at the restaurant, but when I’m writing the review and looking back at the photos, I then realize how good it really was.  The food, the atmosphere, and the possibility that Jake Owen could stop by for an impromptu concert is reason enough to stop by and check these guys out, I know you won’t be disappointed!

Riverside Cafe Website  |  Riverside Cafe Menu  |  Riverside Cafe Facebook Page

Address3341 Bridge Plaza Dr, Vero Beach, FL 32963

Phone(772) 234-5550

Hours:  11:00am – 10:00pm, 7 days a week

The 2016 GOLDEN FORK Awards

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine

Beachiest Kids Photo Contest

I never imagined myself as a food blogger or restaurant critic until a few years ago.  I’ve been looking for a way to get into the food industry, but could not figure out what to do, and keep my day job with bankers hours.  Back in June of 2015, an opportunity fell into my lap.  A farm back in my home state of Indiana was looking for a chef and content producer to help them promote their products.  They are innovators in their field, and I thought it would be a good way to start learning about blogging and content production.  A lot of their customers follow the paleo and low carb way of eating, so I decided to create a bunless burger recipe for them using their grass-fed ground beef.  Right around this time, I learned of a food photo contest on Vero Vine.  I took a chance and entered the picture of my “EPIC Bunless Burger” and ended up taking 1st place!  From there, my relationship with Vero Vine and Stacy Cook grew and I started guest blogging, and the rest is history!

My Award Winning EPIC Bunless Burger

Since I use forks for my rating system, I thought it would only be fitting to have an annual GOLDEN FORK awards article to highlight the best of the best from the past year.  With over 60 different restaurants and reviews, it took me a while to look them over again and choose my favorites.  I created 13 different categories for this year’s awards. including such as Best Burger, Best Steak, and Best Seafood dishes, etc.

Now on to the awards!  Let’s jump right in and see who this year’s winners are, and see what I had to eat from this past year!

Best Appetizer – Citron Bistro – Shrimp Bruschetta

“The first starter they brought out for me to try was this stunning interpretation of the classic bruschetta.  It had jumbo shrimp served scampi style and were perfectly cooked.  It was served with tomatoes and scallions on grilled sourdough bread and was finished with micro greens as a garnish.  The sauce on the plate was a lemon ver blanc sauce with balsamic vinegar for decoration.  It was outstanding!”

More Details  /  Read Review

Best Salad – Chive – Mexican Wedge Salad

“This is not your typical wedge salad you would get at a steak house.  First off, it’s not actually made with a lettuce wedge, which is great, because they are difficult to eat anyway.  The diversity of ingredients in this salad is staggering!  It’s made with Butter Lettuce, Marinated steak, Craisins, Almonds, Bacon, Avocado, Red Onion, Cilantro, Blue Cheese Crumbles, Chimichurri and Peri Peri Hot Sauce!  First bite was an explosion of flavor from all of those ingredients!  It was tangy from the chimichurri, slightly smoky from the bacon, the red onion added a nice crunch,  and the steak was very tender!”

More Details  /  Read Review

Best Breakfast – Baci Trattoria – Primavera Benedict

This dish was one of my favorites!  You can immediately smell the aromas of the fresh ingredients.  It consists of two poached eggs served on top of thick Parmigiano polenta wedges, fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers and fresh spinach.  The yolk from the poached egg made the entire dish exceptionally rich.  The polenta was flavorful and had a satisfying texture with each bite.

More Details / Read Review

Best Taco – Alley Tacos – Any taco they serve

“Here are the two tacos that I got.  One beef and one pork.  They come with just the corn tortilla and the meat.  You then choose what else you want on top.  I went traditional and did white onion and cilantro, salsa and lime juice.  They were amazing!  The tortillas were grilled, the meat was flavorful, and the toppings were fresh.”

More Details  /  Read Review

Best Sandwich – Dagwood’s – The Dagwood

“This is one impressive sandwich!  Served on their house made sub roll, it contains ham, turkey, roast beef, pepperoni, bacon, cheddar, provolone, mayo, mustard, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, banana peppers, black olives, jalapeno, and topped off with Dagwood’s special spices.  Oil and vinegar was served alongside.  Trying to fold it up for a bite was a challenge in itself.  Once I got a handle on it and took a bite this sandwich had a lot of flavors and textures going on all at the same time.  It was tangy, crunchy, and a little bit sweet.  This is probably a sandwich that I would not have tried on my own, so I’m glad I got to try it, because it may be my go-to when I return in the near future.”

More Details  /  Read Review

Best Burger – Village Sandwich Shop and Grill – The Roadhouse

“Now that is one impressive looking burger!  It’s made with an 8 oz beef patty that has been grilled, topped with cheddar cheese, Duroc bacon, pulled pork that has been dressed with a Carolina BBQ sauce, and topped with frizzled red onions.  I cut the burger in half since there was no way I could pick up the entire burger at once.  I nearly had to unhinge my jaw to take a bite!  It was beefy, smoky from the bacon, a little bit sweet from the BBQ sauce, and crunchy from the fried onions.  It definitely had a lot going on flavor and texture wise, and it was fantastic!”

More Details  /  Read Review

Best Pizza – Italian American Civic Association – White Pizza

“This is easily one of the best bargains in Vero to feed your entire family.  You start with a basic cheese pizza for $7.00, then add what toppings you want on it for $1.00 additional per topping.  This “white” pizza had a garlic pesto sauce, ricotta, and fresh mozzarella on top.  The aroma of the garlic when Tony brought the pizza to our table was intoxicating!  The crust was perfectly baked, the garlic pesto sauce was herby and delicious, and the slices of mozzarella just melted in your mouth.  Hands down this has to be one of the best pies I’ve had in Vero the 2 years I’ve lived here.”

More Details  /  Read Review

Best Seafood Dish – Cobalt – Jumbo Grilled Prawn

“Next up was this show stopper!  The chef told us that he had a few larger than normal prawns that came in so he presented us with one of them.  This prawn is a U-4, meaning there are only 4 of them per pound.  As you can see from the picture above, it was plate engulfing in size.  It was dressed with a sriracha aioli, then torched to add a slightly smoky flavor.  It was very flavorful, with just a touch of heat from the sriracha.  It was perfectly cooked and seasoned to perfection.  The prawn was laid on a bed of farrow, and lemon arugula to garnish.”

More Details  /  Read Review

Best Steak – Maison Martinique / Havana Nights – Grilled Filet Mignon

“My wife joined me for this review and filet is one of her favorites, so we were happy to see the chef bring this dish out to us.  The dish consists of a 6 oz (also available in 8 oz) filet that has been fire grilled to a perfect medium and seasoned to perfection.  It’s topped with a small lobster tail and a Gorgonzola reduction sauce over the top.  Sides were mashed potatoes and broccoli with sliced carrots.  The filet was one of the most tender I have ever eaten, and the Gorgonzola sauce was the perfect match for the steak.  It was creamy and had a wonderfully bold cheese flavor.  We were fighting over the last few bites of steak and the sauce because it was that good!”

More Details  /  Read Review

Best Over the Top Experience – The Yellow Rose Cakery – Industrials Design

As “The Food Guy”, most of the restaurants I review want to give me an over the top experience to write about, to stand out above the rest.  While these experiences are not available to the general public, I thought I would still include this category.  With over 5 fabulous cakes and over 100 servings, and only 6 people at the tasting, I thought this was definitely my best over the top experience of the year.

“All we could say was WOW once we saw what she made for us to try.  These are known as The Yellow Rose Cakery Industrials design and are $65.00 each and serve 20 people.  The price may vary slightly depending on the level of detail you would like, so be sure to ask Andi for additional details.”

More Details  /  Read Review

Best New Restaurant – Taco Dive

“Upon first entry into the restaurant, it was nicer inside than I was expecting.  I guess with a name like “Taco Dive” I did not know what to expect.  The other surprise was that it was a sit-down restaurant, and not counter service.  I figured due to the size of the restaurant and type of food they served, you would simply order at the counter, and they would bring it to you once ready.  The interior of the restaurant has been changed quite a bit since the previous tenants that occupied the space.  It has that industrial gastro-pub style decor with dark stained wood table tops, metal legs, and dark gray walls.  Reclaimed wood pallets hang on the walls, and an old spring mattress is suspended from the ceiling that has been outfitted with Edson bulb light fixtures. “

More Details  /  Read Review

Chef(s) of the Year – Chef Patrick Hughes and Chef Chet Perrotti

I had the pleasure of meeting these two chefs earlier this year when I reviewed Maison Martinique. They had just taken over the kitchen and were still working out the kinks with the menu.  While I only gave them 4 forks for my first visit, I was invited back to review Havana Nights, and they definitely stepped up their game and earned that  5th fork.  They are two of the most humble, yet hard working and very talented chefs that I’ve ever met.  The food that they prepare is some of the best that I have had anywhere.  These guys deserve the recognition, so congratulations to both of you as my pick for Chefs of the Year!

Restaurant of the Year – Maison Martinique / Havana Nights

My pick for the restaurant of the year should come as no surprise with my choice for Chefs of the Year.  Maison Martinique and Havana Nights continue to impress me with the personal touch that I get each and every time I’m there.  The chefs care about your experience and do make appearances in the dining room throughout the evening to make sure things are to your liking.  You also don’t feel rushed to hurry up and eat, so they can turn a table.  When you are there, they allow you time to sit back and relax and enjoy your evening.  From the dimly lit elegant dining rooms, the romantic atmosphere, the private booths, and the world-class entertainment, this is one of the best fine dining establishments in Vero Beach.  Congratulations to Maison Martinique and Havana Nights, and the entire staff on being my pick for Restaurant of the Year!

More Details  /  Read Review

In Conclusion:

It was fun looking back at my first year of restaurant reviews and re-discovering all of the great things I’ve had to eat in 2016.  I can honestly say that I did not have any bad experiences at any of the restaurants that I visited.  I’ve got some new ideas on how to expand my food reviews for 2017, so make sure you check back and read my reviews often to see what I have in store!  One thing that I’m super excited about is our new VIP Foodie events we are working on for 2017.  We had our first event in December called “The ULTIMATE Italian Dining Experience” and we were sold out 3 weeks early!  We are planning to have one per month, and we are already planning events for April of this year.  If you are not yet a member of our new group on Facebook called Vero Beach Foodie, please come over and join us, and share your dining experiences with us!  Hope to see you there!

Purchase Wild Beast Feast Tickets – Jan. 25th

Havana Nights Piano Bar – Restaurant Review

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine

Beachiest Kids Photo Contest

Havana Nights Piano Bar Image Logo

As a follow up to my review of Maison Martinique, I was invited back to The Caribbean Court Boutique Hotel to experience their piano bar, Havana Nights, and their new piano player Brian Blatz.  Located on the second floor of the hotel is a cozy, yet romantic space to have a drink, enjoy an appetizer, or an entire meal.  The bar has its own specific menu, but also offers the full menu from the restaurant downstairs as well.  Chef Chet Perotti and Chef Patrick Hughes were still fairly new to the kitchen during my first visit. I gave them 4 forks on food last time so I was excited to see what they would bring to the table this time to possibly earn that 5th fork.

Click Here to Read my Review of Maison Martinique


There is a separate entrance up a flight of stairs outside to get to the bar, or you can enter the restaurant and take the back stairway up to it.  There are tables, booths, and leather covered chairs at the bar for seating.  Along with some colorful Cuban artwork, the chair inserts and pillows in the booths give the place a nice splash of color and make it feel somewhat tropical.  One of the reasons why I was asked to come back was to see their new piano player, Brian Blatz.  From classic standards to Elton John, Billy Joel and the Beatles, I think Brian could play just about anything and he sings too!  Check out the link below to view the video I took of Brian while I was there.  Or better yet, head on over beachside on Monday, Friday or Saturday night and enjoy Brian live!

Click Here to View the Video of Brian From my Visit

Lets dive right in and see what this piano bar has to offer!


The Big O (Oprah’s Favorite) – ($7.00*) – We asked our waiter what some of the more popular drinks are on the menu, and this one was suggested to us.  It’s made with champagne, equal parts of Cointreau, and pomegranate liqueur.  It was a little bubbly from the champagne, had a nice bright citrus flavor and was very refreshing.  It was garnished with an orange ring that had the fruit removed from the middle.    *This price reflects the Martini Monday special.


Chocolate Martini – ($7.00*) – This martini was also suggested to us as a popular choice amongst other guests.  It’s made with vanilla vodka, Godiva dark chocolate, Godiva white chocolate, and chocolate rum.  It was very smooth and had a very rich dark chocolate flavor.  The alcohol flavor was very minimal, so be careful with these, they go down easy.   *This price reflects the Martini Monday special.


Lychee Martini – ($7.00*) – As we were having our drinks this evening, we were chatting on Facebook with our friends about our experience at Havana Nights.  We received several suggestions to try this martini, so we asked our waiter to bring us one.  It’s made with Belvedere vodka, Lychee liqueur, shaken and served chilled.  I tend to like my drinks a little sweeter and this one was not as sweet as the last two we tried.  It had a nice lychee flavor, but was a bit to bitter for my personal taste.  *This price reflects the Martini Monday special.


Pan Seared Caribbean Crab Cakes – ($16.00) – Crab cakes are always a good choice and these were exceptional.  They are made with jumbo lump crab meat that is blended with fresh herbs, multi-colored peppers, and a hint of Caribbean spice.  They were perfectly seasoned and the sear added a satisfying crunch.  The sauce on the plate was made with roasted garlic, lime juice, and a little bit of jalapeño.  Sliced lemon, tomato and lettuce completed the garnish.


Seafood al Forno – ($36.00) – I love seafood and this dish has all of my favorites in it.  This dish consists of diced jumbo shrimp, scallops, lobster meat, and is topped with their shrimp and crab stuffing.  It is then baked to a golden brown in a scallop shell and served over lettuce.  The seafood was perfectly cooked and the shrimp and crab stuffing mix had the perfect blend of herbs, spices, and parmesan cheese.  It was garnished with chopped parsley and two lemon wedges.  A truly fantastic seafood dish!


Grilled Filet Mignon 6 oz – ($28.00) – My wife joined me for this review and filet is one of her favorites, so we were happy to see the chef bring this dish out to us.  The dish consists of a 6 oz (also available in 8 oz) filet that has been fire grilled to a perfect medium and seasoned to perfection.  Its topped with a small lobster tail, and a gorgonzola reduction sauce over the top.  Sides were mashed potatoes and broccoli with sliced carrots.  The filet was one of the most tender I have ever eaten, and the gorgonzola sauce was the perfect match for the steak.  It was creamy and had a wonderfully bold cheese flavor.  We were fighting over the last few bites of steak and the sauce, because it was that good!

In Conclusion:

We thoroughly enjoyed our evening at Havana Nights.  From the atmosphere, the music, the food and drink, they were all wonderful!  I might go as far as to say one of, if not the best fine dining experiences I have had to date in Vero Beach.  They have really made some great improvements in the kitchen in the short time since I was there last and without a doubt, they earned that 5th fork!

Atmosphere – 5 Forks

Service – 5 Forks

Food – 5 Forks

Ratings Scale Legend:

1 to 5 Forks – 1 Bad to 5 Excellent

Havana Nights Piano Bar

Rip Tide Menu – $27.00 – 3 Courses – All Night Long!

1605 Ocean Dr, Vero Beach, FL 32963