by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger for Vero Vine
After hearing great things about this event last year, I’d been looking forward to it this year. Where else can you try so many different restaurants in one place, at the same time, for one price? The Taste of Vero is where! This event is sponsored by and a benefit for the H.A.L.O No Kill Animal Shelter and tickets go quick! This year they added an additional 100 tickets, for a total of 550, and it sold out in less than 2 days! You have to be on top of your game once the tickets go on sale to make sure you get them. Since Vero Vine was a sponsor, I was invited to attend the event and write about all of the great food served this year. There were over 20 different restaurants participating, serving up some really great food! Lets dive right in and see what everyone was presenting!
Vero’s Caribbean Kitchen – The first restaurant we tried is one of my absolute favorites in Vero right now. Chef Charles has some really awesome Caribbean flavors and he served two of his most popular dishes. Up front is his Caribbean Pork with a Pineapple Mango Caribbean sauce, and in the back is his Jerk Chicken. The pork was very tender and the sauce was sweet with just a little bit of heat. The piece of jerk chicken I got had a lot of bone in it, but was spiced perfectly! I’ve had his chicken in the past and thought it was under seasoned, but not this night. It was bold, but not spicy, and had lots of flavor. If you have not had a chance to check them out yet, I definitely recommend you do!
Eva’s Polish Kitchen – Up until my recent review of Eva’s, I had not had the opportunity to try authentic Polish food before. I was really glad to see them at the ToV this year. On the back of the plate was a Polish marble cake called Babka. It was moist and delicious! Next I had the Polish sausage with sauerkraut, and finally a stuffed cabbage roll. The sausage had the familiar snap to the casing and the kraut was tangy and very tasty! Their stuffed cabbage was fantastic! The tangy, slightly spicy red sauce over the top really makes the dish, and the meat filling was seasoned perfectly! Unfortunately Eva’s ran out of food before the night’s end. An indication of how good it was? I think so! Hopefully if you were there you got to them early enough to try some of their great offerings, if not, head on over to Eva’s on 43rd Avenue, you won’t be disappointed.
Chelsea’s on Cardinal – Their offering was several different kinds of pizza. I selected one that looked out of the ordinary. I believe my selection was a Vegan Pesto Pizza. The crust was fairly thin, but was still strong enough to not flop when picked up. The vegetables were well seasoned and the pesto was slightly tangy. Overall a very nice offering.
The Buggy Bistro – They were serving a Pork Taco with onions and green pepper, with a cabbage slaw and grated cheese over the top. While the presentation was nice, the dish fell short of my expectations. The tortillas were not grilled before service and fell apart while eating the taco. The onions and peppers were quite crunchy and appeared to be raw. The flavors were somewhat mild, but the pork was nicely cooked and had good flavor.
Joey’s Seafood Shack – I’ve experienced Joey’s twice now, once at the Top Chef qualifier, and as a finalist at the Top Chef finale event, and both times their food has been outstanding! Their offering tonight was no exception, a Crab Cake with Cabbage Slaw. The crab cake was cooked perfectly, containing a generous amount of crab meat. It had a slight crunch on the outside which gave a nice texture variation, but the slaw was my favorite part of this dish. It was sweet, creamy, and oh so delicious! I definitely need to pay them a visit sometime to see what other great offerings they have on their menu.
Ocean Grill – This turned out to be one of my favorite desserts of the night! A Caramel Flan with berry sauce and whipped cream on the side. It was very smooth, creamy, and had this wonderful toasted marshmallow flavor. It only got better with each bite!
Countryside Citrus – Up next we have another dessert offering, this time from Countryside Citrus. A small slice of Key Lime Cheesecake, their wonderful Orange Soft Serve Ice Cream, and a sample of their Peach Salsa with Tortilla chips. While the two desserts went well together, I was a bit confused by the salsa. While it is very good, it did not really belong on the plate with the desserts.
The Wave – A very nice presentation and generous offering from Costa d’Este. They were serving Rock Shrimp Ceviche. It was topped with match stick sliced radish, micro greens, and fried plantain chips to finish the dish. Served alongside was a lime mojito. There was a generous serving of rock shrimp in the cup and they were wonderful. Tangy from the lime juice, the radish provided that nice crunch and the plantain chips were crispy. The mojito had a nice limey flavor with a hint of mint. The rum was a bit strong for my taste, but I’ve heard people rave about the Costa d’Este Mojitos so they must be good!
Trattoria Dario – They were offering two kinds of Meatballs. Two were in their tomato sauce, and the one was in their BBQ sauce. While the tomato sauce was good, and the meatballs were homemade, I was a little disappointed with their offering, considering what else I had already tried thus far this evening. The BBQ sauce was definitely homemade, but it lacked the punch I was looking for to drive these over the top.
Bistro Fourchette – This is a restaurant I had not heard of, but I definitely need to check them out after tasting their offerings. The salad is from Osceola Farms and is tossed in their in house champagne dressing. The three crostinis are as follows, from left to right: Caramelized Onions with Goat Cheese, Eggplant Caviar, and Oven Roasted Beef & Tartare Dressing. Everything on this plate was fantastic, the salad was lightly dressed, but very tasty, the crostinis were crisp and the ingredients they were topped with paired nicely with each other. A very well thought out dish!
Vero Beach Yacht Club – My wife was in attendance this evening to assist me, and this was one of her favorite dishes of the night. We were saddened knowing that by not being VBYC members we’ll probably never be able to enjoy this dish again. The trio of their “Signature Compound Salads” starting on the left are as follows: Tropical Krab Salad with Chef Bill’s one of a kind dressing, Massaged Kale Salad with an orange poppy seed dressing, and a Chicken BLT Salad with their unique creamy dressing. All 3 salads were fantastic! I’m not a big fan of kale, but this was very good. I think the BLT salad was our favorite out of all of these. So simple, but SO GOOD!
Citron Bistro – This was one of my favorites of the night! The dish was seared Ahi Tuna over Asian noodles and it was outstanding! The tuna was seared perfectly, and it was extremely tender. The noodles were cooked perfectly and the seasoned with soy sauce, garlic, and finished with chopped green onions. Kudos to the chef and staff in the picture above for this fabulous dish!
This concludes part 1 of my coverage of the Taste of Vero event, and I’m just scratching the surface of the offerings from the event with this first article. Stay tuned next week for part 2 and my final thoughts on this event and my TOP ATE dishes of the night!
Please leave your reviews, favorite plates in the comments below…