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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

Wood N Spoon – Restaurant Review

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

Beachiest Kids Photo Contest

My next tasting experience takes me to a sandwich shop off of Oslo and 20th Street in Southwest Vero Beach.  I think you know by now that Stacy Cook and I are diehard foodies and are always on the lookout for the next hot spot to get an awesome meal.  He has been telling me how great this sandwich shop is for a while now, so I decided it was finally time to give them a try.  Chef and owner, Mike Wood is a native Vero Beach resident, but after receiving his Culinary Arts degree from Johnson & Wales in Charleston, South Carolina, he decided to embarked on a 15-year journey working his way around the country.  He traveled as far as Alaska, New York, and even down to the Keys.  He eventually made his way back to his hometown of Vero Beach and settled in and opened the Wood N Spoon as we know it today just about 2 years ago.

Parking is adequate for the restaurant since they share parking spaces with some other businesses in the strip mall.  Their trademark green color is evident on the sign over the front door and definitely on the walls inside the restaurant.  There are two dining spaces on either side as you walk in, and the counter where you place an order is in the middle of the room.  You can also just have a seat at an open table and a waitress will come to take your order.  The dining room is clean and bright, and the owner and employee’s greetings are warm and welcoming.  Everyone seems to have a passion for what they are doing here and it shows.  One additional bonus you may not know about them is that they also serve ice cream!

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

Brazilian Black Bean Soup – ($4.60 medium) – This was a new soup variety for me, so I was anxious to try this one.  It’s made with black beans, onions, garlic, potatoes, carrots, kale, and garnished with diced tomato.  The soup was very hearty and had a nice southwestern flavor.  The beans were perfectly cooked as were the rest of the vegetables.  This soup definitely hit the spot on a cool spring day!

New England Clam Chowder – ($4.60 medium) – One of my all-time favorite soups is clam chowder!  It’s made with minced clams, diced potatoes, onions, half and half, and thickened with a gluten-free flour.  It has that wonderful creaminess that makes it so good, and a generous portion of clams as well.  It could have used a touch more salt for my taste, but that is just a personal preference.  So simple, yet so good!

Mediterranean Salad – ($7.95) –  Mediterranean food is all about freshness, colors and bold flavors, and this salad has all of those boxes checked.  This salad has spring mix lettuce, diced tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, peppers, feta cheese, olives, and a tangy yet sweet dressing.  It was definitely colorful and had the right balance of crunchy, sweet, tangy, salty, everything you would expect from a salad with all of these ingredients in it.  It was definitely one of my favorite items I got to try during my visit.

Southwest Chicken Sandwich – ($7.09) – This sandwich is outrageously good!  It has sliced chicken, lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado, mozzarella cheese, a spicy mayo, served on a ciabatta bun.  Now they listed the dressing on this sandwich as a “spicy mayo”, but told us it’s called “McBooha” sauce, which is a Moroccan inspired type of sauce.  Whatever they call it, I call it amazing!  It has this southwestern flavor without the cumin in it.  I think it would make just about anything you put it on good, so I recommend you try it and see for yourself!

Turkey, Avocado & Walnut Pesto Sandwich – ($7.09) – This one is Stacy Cook’s favorite sandwiches here, and I tend to agree with him after having tasted it.  It’s made with sliced turkey, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and their house made walnut pesto sauce on a ciabatta bun.  They are definitely generous with the amount of meat they put on all of their sandwiches.  Everything was super fresh and the walnut pesto was really fantastic.  You could definitely taste the fresh basil and the garlic.

Ruben Sandwich – ($7.09) – I know I say this a lot, but this also is one of my favorite sandwiches, so I could not wait to take a bite of this one!  It’s made with a generous portion of sliced corned beef, sauerkraut, Russian dressing, Swiss cheese, all on toasted marbled rye bread.  The meat as you can see from the picture is a generous portion and the sauerkraut had a slight crunch and a nice tang to it.  If I could find anything at fault, it would be that I would have liked a little more Russian dressing on it, otherwise this is another excellent sandwich choice on their menu.

In Conclusion:

I hate to admit it, but I guess Stacy was right about this one, their food is fantastic!  Their sandwiches are all made to order and with extremely fresh ingredients.  All of their soups are scratch made the day before to allow the flavors to come together, and most of them are gluten-free.  Chef Mike and crew definitely take pride in their restaurant and it shows in the food they serve.  From a full breakfast menu, bagels, soups. wraps, pressed sandwiches, and salads, they definitely have you covered no matter what you are hungry for!

Have you tried Wood N Spoon?  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 – 5 Forks

Rating Scale Legend:

1 to 5 Forks – 1 Bad to 5 Excellent

Wood N Spoon Website  |  Facebook Page

Wood N Spoon also offers a full breakfast menu and has an outpost at the Vero Beach Museum of Art.  They also provide catering services for all of your event needs.  Give Mike a call at the number below for more information.

Address: 2015 9th St SW, Vero Beach, FL 32962


Wednesday 8AM–4PM
Thursday 8AM–4PM
Friday 8AM–4PM
Saturday 8AM–3PM
Sunday Closed
Monday 8AM–3PM
Tuesday 8AM–4PM