Tag Archives: Grits

Blue Star – 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 back to downtown Vero Beach and to Blue Star!  Even if you are familiar with 14th Avenue in Vero, how many of you know that Blue Star exists and where it’s located?  Just like everyone else, I have passed by it only a handful of times because it’s at the far end of the 14th Ave, a little bit past Pocahontas Park.  With a very unassuming looking blue building, I would never have guessed that this was a fine dining establishment.  Is this place worth adding to your fine dining restaurant rotation?  Keep reading to find out!    

Parking was quite easy since this is one of the few restaurants on 14th Ave that has its own parking lot.  Upon entry, you step right into what I would describe as a very intimate, romantic, dimly lit dining room.  There is a full-service bar with 6 stools, or if you prefer, a mixture of tables and booths throughout the dining room.  They also have a couch and a few chairs if you prefer a more informal seating arrangement to just have a glass of wine or just hang out and wait for your table to be ready.  There is a grand piano in the corner and they do have live performers most evenings.  Chef Kitty Wagner runs the kitchen and began her career as a Pastry Chef.  She has traveled extensively to further her career, working at many different restaurants to gain valuable experience.  She has owned a few other restaurants around Vero and has won many Readers Choice awards.  Most notably, the Indian River Chamber of Commerce Industry Award for Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013.  She also has participated in Dancing with Vero’s Stars in 2014. 

 

Now let’s jump right in and see what I had to eat!

Gazpacho – ($8.00) –  A chilled soup is a wonderful way to start your meal on a warm summer evening!  It’s made with tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, onions, tomato juice, and cubanelle peppers.  The gazpacho was slightly chilled and very refreshing.  While tomato was the predominant flavor, you could still taste all the other ingredients used to make it.

Blue Star Chopped Salad – ($14.00) – Wow, what a beautiful presentation!  This salad contains iceberg lettuce, red and yellow tomatoes, broccoli and topped with crumbled bacon.  The dressing is made with avocado and their house made Stilton blue cheese dressing.  Everything was beyond fresh.  The dressing was smooth and creamy.  You could most certainly taste the Stilton blue cheese in the dressing.

Coconut Curried Fresh Catch – ($36.00) – Fresh fish is one of the many reasons why I moved to Florida and this one confirms my decision!  Yellow Tail was the fresh fish of the day and was so moist, I had to check and make sure it was fish.  Never have I ever eaten fish that was this moist.  Middle Neck clams were served alongside with steamed Asian vegetables over jasmine rice.  The curry broth was both sweet and savory with a touch of heat on the back end. 

Gio Cato – ($9.00) – This Pinot Grigio is made from grapes hand-selected from some of the best sites along the Italian border in Slovenia. It is bright and crisp, with aromas of delicious green apple, acacia flower, and almonds. A perfect summer wine and pairs nicely with just about everything. We enjoyed the house suggestion with all of the dishes in this review.

Chinese 5 Spiced Duck Breast – ($34.00) – Duck is one of my favorite proteins, so I was happy to see this dish brought out for us to try.  The duck breast was seasoned with Chinese 5 spice seasoning and seared to a perfect medium internal temperature.  The fat was perfectly rendered and the duck was nice and tender.  The blueberry coulis sauce paired nicely with the duck.  The corn pudding served alongside was quite interesting.  It had whole corn kernels in it and had a similar texture to a Crème Brulee. 

Low Country Shrimp & Grits – ($32.00) – I’ve tasted several renditions of this around Vero, and I must say I think this is the best one I’ve had yet.  Two perfectly cooked and seasoned jumbo shrimps are placed over aged cheddar grits, then topped with sautéed bell peppers, onions, bacon, and dressed in a lemon and Sriracha glaze.  The grits were very creamy and had a bold cheddar flavor.  The peppers, onions, and bacon had a sweet, salty, and spicy flavor that we could just not get enough of.

Roasted Pineapple Brown Butter Tart – ($8.00) – I love pineapple, so my dessert choice was obvious!  Pineapple is roasted, then layered in the middle of this brown butter tart.  Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and a raspberry was served alongside.  The crust was light and flaky and flavor-wise, it reminded me of a pineapple upside down cake.  It was delicious!

In Conclusion:

This place took me by surprise.  I did not know what to expect when I walked in the door since I’ve not seen any reviews about it and no one from our Vero Beach Foodie group has posted or talked about it before.  All of the food is freshly prepared from scratch and artistically plated, so it not only tastes great, but it also looks fantastic too.  If you are in the mood for something different, then head down to the Blue Star and give these guys a try, I know you won’t be disappointed!

Have you tried Blue Star?  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.

Blue Star Website  |  Blue Star Facebook Page

Address2227 14th Ave, Vero Beach, FL 32960

Phone(772) 492-9057

Hours of Operation:  Monday – Saturday, 5:00 pm till 12:00 am, Closed on Sundays

Baci Trattoria – Restaurant Review 2017

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

Beachiest Kids Photo Contest

As one of my all-time favorite places for breakfast in Vero, I was really excited for the opportunity to review Baci again.  Last year my friend and guest blogger, Eden Collona wrote the review and I was a bit jealous because the food and experience we had was so amazing.  The items on the menu are truly unique and tend to have funky names and a story behind them.  Getting to meet the owner, Karen Scott Fulchini was another highlight of my first visit.  Her warm greeting makes you feel like you are family and dining in her own home.  If you have an opportunity to sit down and dine with Karen, I highly recommend you do.  Her stories alone are worth the time to have a meal with her.

Located in Downtown Vero just off 14th Avenue in a strip mall, Baci is in the corner between the new VB American Bar & Grill (review) and Carmine & Lucia’s (review).  Parking is somewhat limited depending on the time of day you arrive, but there is street parking if you cannot find any spots in the parking lot.  While the inside air-conditioned space is limited, they do have an outdoor patio that has lots of space.  Even in the heat of summer, its shaded and lots of fans to keep the air moving.  The inside is nicely decorated and Italian inspired.  The staff does not seem to change that often, so it’s nice getting to know them and seeing them again each time you visit.

 

Now on to the food!  Let’s jump right in and see what I had to eat!

Insalata Antipasti – ($13.00) – As someone who follows a very low carb diet at home, it’s nice to see a restaurant offer this as an option for someone like me.  The antipasti platter includes shaved prosciutto, genoa salami, mortadella, fresh mozzarella, provolone, and fire roasted peppers.  Portion size was large and quite the bargain for the quality of meats and cheeses served.  Two of my favorites on the platter were the mortadella and the fresh mozzarella. They were both superb! The fire roasted peppers were soft, sweet, garlicky, and went perfectly with the taralli croutons served alongside.

Fried Polenta Fingers – ($8.00) – We got our first taste of these at the Bacon Festival and immediately fell in love with them.  While these don’t have bacon in them, they do have parmesan cheese and are wonderful!  They have a certain richness to them, and the more you eat, the better the flavor gets.  You get two sauce options, either the tomato basil gravy or the spicy Italian pesto dipping sauce.  We had the Italian pesto sauce and it was a perfect match with the polenta.

Shrimp Emanuela – ($13.00) – The polenta at Baci seems to be taking a starring role lately due to customer request.  I know because I’m one of the customers that have requested it several times in other dishes and not just in the Primavera Benedict.  This dish was the inspiration of Chef Amy and she insisted we try it even though we just had the polenta fingers.  It contains two of the same polenta cakes that they use in the benedict and are topped with garlic butter shrimp, served over a bed of fresh spinach, and garnished with shaved parmesan cheese.  Additional garlic butter sauce was served alongside.  Such simple ingredients, yet they work so well together.  It was so good!

Peasant Grits Pot – ($10.00) – If you are really hungry, then might I suggest you give this one a try?  The pot is filled about a 1/3 of the way with their wonderful creamy grits, then topped with sautéed spinach, bacon, pimento cheese, two eggs cooked to order, and chopped chives as a garnish.  I ordered my eggs sunny side up because I figured the runny yolk would further enhance this dish.  The grits were nice and creamy, the bacon was crispy, and the eggs were perfectly cooked sunny side up.  It was delicious!

Holy Cannoli Pancakes – ($10.00) – HOLY CANNOLI BATMAN!!!  This right here is why I say that Baci is different.  Where else can you find something like this on the menu in Vero?  It’s made with 2 pancakes, with the top one folded back and stuffed with cannoli filling.  It’s then topped with more filling, a strawberry then drizzled with some chocolate sauce, and dusted with powdered sugar.  The pancakes were light and fluffy and I was surprised that it was not as rich as I thought it would be with all the cannoli filling.  What does make it rich is the chocolate sauce, so they only put a little bit over the top for garnish and give you a side of it so you can add as much as you desire.

In Conclusion:

Why do I love Baci so much?  Because it’s different, and in this case, different is good.  While they do still have some classic Italian dishes on the menu, they also don’t follow the rules of what an Italian restaurant is expected to serve and have created some truly unique dishes.  While spaghetti may have had a hand in building this place, stuffing it into a gigantic meatball and covering it with Sunday gravy is what keeps people coming back time and time again.

Have you tried Baci Trattoria?  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 – 5 Forks

Rating Scale Legend:

1 to 5 Forks – 1 Bad to 5 Excellent

Website | Facebook Page

Address1918 14th Ave, Vero Beach, FL 32960

Phone(772) 794-4747

Open Daily from 7:00am – 3:00pm

The Village Sandwich Shop and Grill – Restaurant Review

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

Beachiest Kids Photo Contest

For my next tasting experience, I venture a little bit outside of Vero Beach and head north to Sebastian to check out a new restaurant that just opened less than 6 months ago.  Owner and Chef, Andy King, has over 28 years experience in the restaurant business and thought it was time to finally open up his own place.  Located right off of US Hwy 1 in the Village Shops,  The Village Sandwich Shop and Grill is definitely a welcome addition to the Sebastian restaurant scene.

We visited the restaurant on a Tuesday evening around 6:00pm for dinner.  Parking is available next to and behind the restaurant, and a few spots out front right off of US Hwy 1.  The main entrance is on the south side of the building.  Upon entry, you walk right into the cozy dining room with open seating.  The restaurant is nicely decorated with colorful tropical pictures and beach themed table cloths.

Chef Andy was expecting us so, he had a few items already lined up for us to try, so let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer and what we had to eat!

Lobster Bisque – ($4.00) – The wonderful aroma of the lobster coming from this soup was the first thing I noticed as they sat it down in front of me.  Without a description on the menu to reference what’s in the soup, I’m going to guess and say that it was made with a tomato base, shellfish stock, cream, and lobster.  The soup was perfectly seasoned and had the bold taste of lobster in each bite.  It was served along with grilled toast and was excellent!

Avocado & Bacon Salad – ($8.00) – Avocado is something that I like, but don’t eat a lot of, so I was anxious to try this salad when Andy told us about it.  It’s made with chopped romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, red onion, crumbled bacon, and is tossed in an avocado dressing.  My first impression was that it was very colorful!  The lettuce was fresh and crisp, the cherry tomatoes were really sweet, and the crumbled bacon on it added a nice crunch and a slight smokiness.  It was delicious!

Crispy Southern Fried Green Tomatoes – ($7.00) – Fried green tomatoes are not something that I would have personally ordered before I started doing food reviews, but now that I have had them at several different places, it’s definitely something that I have come to love, and Andy’s are no exception.  It’s made with fresh green tomato slices that have been battered and fried, served over a spring lettuce mix, and topped with bacon and a chipotle ranch dressing.  The crumbled bacon on top was something new I had not seen before and was very good.  The chipotle ranch dressing was a perfect match with a little bit of heat to it.

Roadhouse Burger – ($11.00) – 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!

Shrimp N Grits – ($13.00) – Shrimp and grits seem to be big in the south, not so much in the Midwest where I moved down here from a few years ago.  I have to admit, this is my first time for shrimp and grits, so I was excited to finally give it a try.  It’s made with fresh local shrimp that have been sautéed with veggies in a Creole cream sauce and served over bacon and cheddar grits.  First off, the shrimp were cooked and seasoned to perfection.  Since it’s a Creole cream sauce, I expected a bit more heat, and would have welcomed it since I tend to like Creole dishes a bit spicier.  The grits were also nice and creamy!

In Conclusion:

With “Sandwich Shop” right in the name of this new restaurant, I thought I had an idea of what to expect when I arrived.  My expectations were definitely turned upside down when I discovered that they are so much more than just a “sandwich shop”.  While we only got to try a few dishes from the menu, everything that we did get to try was really great.  From salads, sandwiches, steaks, chicken and seafood, they definitely have you covered no matter what you are in the mood for.

Have you tried The Village Sandwich Shop and Grill?  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 – 4 Forks

Service – 5 Forks

Food – 4 Forks

Ratings Scale Legend:

1 to 5 Forks – 1 Bad to 5 Excellent

The Village Sandwich Shop and Grill Website

1103 US-1, Sebastian, FL 32958