Tag Archives: Filet

Riverside Cafe – Restaurant Review

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

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

121 Tapas on the Water – Restaurant Review

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

My next tasting experience review takes me down to Fort Pierce and to 121 Tapas on the Water!  I first met the owners, Chef Jason and Hallie Alfonso earlier this year at the Hope for Families Center’s Top Chef event in April.  They made some of the most amazing potato gnocchi that I’ve ever tasted, so I knew that I needed to pay these guys a visit and see if the other items on their menu were just as amazing! 

The restaurant is located at the corner of Melody Lane and Orange Avenue in Fort Pierce.  If you are not familiar with the location, Melody Lane is the street that runs along in front of Gazebo Park where the Fort Pierce Farmers Market is held.  There are lots of parking options all around, but be sure to arrive early if you want to find one easily, plus you can take advantage of their Happy Hour.  This area tends to be quite busy with lots of events, different markets, Sailfish Brewery, and lots of other businesses close by, so the parking spots tend to fill up fast.  Walking up to the restaurant you notice the beautiful view of the intercoastal waterway just across the street.  They do have a few tables in front of the restaurant if you prefer to dine outside.  The interior is tastefully decorated with dark and light-colored walls, a few booths and tables in a dark cherry stained wood, and a large bar takes center stage on the left upon entry.  Lots of unique and colorful artwork adorn the walls.

 

Let’s jump right in and see what I had to eat and drink!

Jumbo Lump Crab Bisque – First up for us to taste is this wonderful Crab Bisque!  It’s a cream based bisque with a generous portion of lump crab meat.  The bisque was very smooth and creamy.  The crab meat was quite a generous portion and was tender and sweet.  The crostini was soft on the inside and had a slight crunch on the outside.  The wine pairing that Chef Jason chose for me was a Butternut Chardonnay and was light and fruity, and paired perfectly with the bisque. 

Meat and Cheese Charcuterie Board – ($15.00) –  I love a good charcuterie board, so I was happy to see this when it was brought to the table.  It has olives, a sweet and spicy grain mustard, Port Wine, Manchego, and Charmont cheeses, thin slices of hard salami and chorizo, slices of Granny Smith apples and honey (behind crostini), and several crostini.  The board had a nice variety of meats and cheeses, the olives were not as salty as I had expected them to be and were quite good, and the sliced apples and honey added a nice contrasting flavor and texture with all of the fatty and salty items on the board.

Sliced Filet – ($13.00) – Filet tends to be a very popular cut of meat for most people due to its tenderness, but for me, it lacks flavor due to the low-fat content.  Chef Jason cooked this via the Sous Vide method and was able to further tenderize and increase the flavor potential of this cut of beef.  The meat was so tender it was almost silky in texture.  The roasted Brussel sprouts were some of the nuttiest I have tasted and were cooked perfectly.  A very good dish!

Rock Shrimp Gnocchi – ($12.00) – This is the dish that I first tasted by Chef Jason at the Top Chef event earlier this year and what actually inspired me to go visit them for this review.  First off, the gnocchi are outstanding!  Its silky smooth texture is some of the best I have tasted anywhere.  The rock shrimp were perfectly cooked and the sauce was rich and creamy.  One more element you don’t see is a sweet pea puree tucked underneath everything which adds a little sweetness to the dish.  This is one that I will definitely order again and highly recommend that you try it too!

Scallops – ($13.00) – What a beautiful presentation!  Three U10 scallops were seared and placed over a Corn and Jalapeno chutney.  The scallops had a beautiful sear on them, but were just a touch over on the cook and were closer to medium well in the middle.  The corn chutney was really sweet and had just a touch of Jalapeno flavor without any heat.  (Note – The menu says two scallops, I was served three.  The owners were not available at the time of writing for me to confirm the price difference).

Carrot Cake – Most people either love or hate carrot cake, there does not seem to be much middle ground with this dessert.  I’m someone that does really enjoy a good carrot cake and that’s what we have here.  The cake itself was moist and had some texture from the walnuts and raisins in it.  This one also had just the right amount of frosting on it and it was not killer sweet.  It added just enough sweetness to let you know it’s there, but not overwhelm you with the richness.    This is one of the better versions that I have tasted in quite a while.

In Conclusion:

I really enjoyed my time here during the review.  The atmosphere was comfortable and very relaxed, the food was exceptional, and they even have live entertainment on select nights.  Happy Hour is from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm and you can get half off any drinks or Tapas dishes which is a great deal!  If you don’t mind the short drive to Fort Pierce, then stop by and give these guys a try, I know you won’t be disappointed!

Have you tried 121 Tapas on the Water?  What has your experience been with them?  Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts, or feel free to email me at thefoodguy@verovine.com with your questions or comments.

Atmosphere – 5 Forks

Service – 5 Forks

Food – 4 Forks

Rating Scale Legend:

1 to 5 Forks – 1 Bad to 5 Excellent

Website  |  Facebook

Address121 Melody Lane, Fort Pierce, FL 34950

Phone(772) 781-0943

Happy Hour Daily from 4:00 pm till 5:00 pm with half off drinks and tapas items.  Tuesday is open mic night, Wednesday is $2.00 you call it beers, Thursday is Ladies Night with Live Music, and Sunday night two can dine for $49.00 which includes two appetizers, two entrees, and one bottle of wine.

The 2017 EPCOT Food and Wine Festival

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

It’s that time of year again as I head back to the 2017 EPCOT Food & Wine Festival and try all the different dishes as we take our “trip around the world”.  Disney does a fantastic job in keeping with the authenticity of the dishes, yet making them palatable for the majority of the public that are not that adventurous of eaters.  A lot of the same options that I reviewed last year were back again, but I tried to work in some new ones too.  I always try my top 3 from last year to see if they were as good, if not better. 

Below I will not feature everything I ate, just my “Top ATE” dishes from 2017, so let’s jump right in and see what I had to eat!

#8 – Belgium – Belgian Waffle with Berry Compote – ($4.00) – Moving down my list from #4 to #8 is this dessert.  They prepared it differently this year and added way too much berry compote.  The waffle ended up being a little bit soggy and the whipped cream was not that appealing with the sauce over the top.  We did detect a hint of wine in the berry compote which we did not last year, so they must be playing with the recipe a bit.  This is still a favorite and it had to make the list even though the execution was not as good as previous years, but we hope they fix the presentation issue, then it would be perfect. 

***UPDATE*** – I have seen another photo of this dish from others attending the event on social media, and it was not assembled this way, so I guess it depends on who is making it.

#7 – The Cheese Studio – Braised Beef “Stroganoff” with Tiny Egg Noodles, Wild Mushroom, and Boursin Garlic and Fine Herbs Cheese Sauce – ($5.00) – Next up at number seven is a new dish that I was looking forward to trying the most.  While the beef was fork tender and had good flavor, the cheese sauce that should have been the star of the dish, was lacking flavor and quantity. The egg noodles were more like a spätzle than a noodle and were a little bit chewy.  I was a little bit disappointed with this dish, but it was still good enough to make the list. 

#6 – Spain – Sweet Olive Oil Cake with Powdered Sugar and Lemon Curd – ($3.75) – The first dessert to make my list is this wonderful olive oil cake!  The cake was slightly chilled and had a texture like corn bread.  The lemon curd sauce was drizzled over the top just before service and was wonderful!  It had just enough zing to “tweak the cheeks” as I like to say.  Portion size for the price paid was also very generous.

#5 – Brazil – Escondidinho de Carne “Little Hidden One” – ($5.00) – Moving down three spots from #2 to #5 this year is this “South American Shepard’s pie”.  Execution of the dish was the same as last year, but it seems like there was a flavor element that was different or missing.  It did not seem to have the same richness that it did last year.  The Yucca on top was very smooth, creamy, and slightly crusty around the edges which gives it an additional texture element that I am a fan of.

#4 – Earth Eats – Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Mousse with Caramel Drizzle – ($3.50) – Anything dessert with peanut butter in it always gets my attention, and this one did not disappoint!  While probably one of the smallest portions at the festival, it was packed with BIG flavor!  Layers of white chocolate mousse, peanut butter mousse, caramel drizzle and candied peanuts are repeated in this small container.  I think I got maybe four bites out of it, but they were so good!  I highly recommend this one, but make sure you get a few of them, because it will disappear before you know it!

#3 – New Zealand – Lamb Meatball – ($5.25) – This dish also came in at my #3 pick for last year and it was good enough to keep its position on my list again.  This time I saw them make it and put the golf ball size meatball in the bread bowl before putting the chutney over the top.  It’s a decent portion for the price and very filling.  The lamb meatball does not have any gamey flavor, so don’t let that stop you from trying it even if you’re not that fond of lamb.  The bread bowl held up well when I picked it up to take a bite.  The tomato chutney was fresh, sweet, with a slight bit of heat.  It was delicious!

#2 – Islands of the Caribbean – Mojo Pork with Black Beans and Cilantro Rice – ($5.00) – A new dish at the festival has made its way to the top of my list!  It looks quite bland, but it’s anything but.  The pork was very tender and had lots of juice with it to keep it moist.  The mojo flavor was just enough to let you know it was there, but not overpowering.  But the star of the plate was the rice and beans!  They had TONS of flavor and I seriously could have gone back just for them, they were that good!

 

And finally, the #1 dish from this year’s EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2017 is. . .

#1 – Canada – “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon – ($8.00) – Congratulations once again to the Canada booth for taking the #1 spot two years in a row on my “Top ATE” list!  The filet was cooked to a perfect medium and cut so easy with a plastic knife, you would think you were cutting through warm butter.  Its served with sautéed mushrooms in a truffle-butter sauce that was outstanding!

In Conclusion:

How much did all of this fun cost us you ask?  We were surprised when we got home and totaled up all our receipts.  For everything that you saw in this post plus a few more dishes that were not featured, two people sharing each dish, our total was only $68.50!  Last year’s total was $63.25, so we ended up spending $5.25 more this year.  I did notice a slight increase in price on some of the items, so that accounts for the higher amount, and we may have had 1 more dish than last year too. Our total for the day, with a tank of gas and parking included on my wife’s annual pass was just a little over $98.50!  I originally was not planning on going again this year, since the dishes had not changed that drastically from last year, but Disney contacted me and offered two press passes to get into the park so I could write about it again.  If they offer them again next year, then I’ll just have to take them up on their offer and eat my way around the world again!