No restaurant in Vero comes even close to decorating for the holidays like the venerable Ocean Grill.
In December, dinner at the Ocean Grill is as much a part of the quintessential Vero holiday experience as the Christmas parade down Ocean Drive. And in late October, you don’t want to miss the spook-tacular transformation of the Ocean Grill for Halloween.
Unless you are unusually lucky, you probably won’t be able to get in next week on the big night itself, when members of the restaurant staff bid to outdo one another for scariest costume.
But the ghouls and goblins have been lurking amid the spider webs at the Ocean Grill since mid-October – and on a recent evening, we invited a couple of first-timers along for what we promised would be a haunting dining experience.
There was also another explanation beyond the Halloween decor for why I was eager to visit.
Mid-October is when stone-crab season gets underway in Florida (it runs through mid-May), and there’s no place better in Vero to partake of these beauties than at the Ocean Grill. I could hardly wait.
For starters on this visit, three of us opted to go simply with salads – two with the tossed house salad (included with dinner) and one with the Caesar ($4 extra). My husband, however, decided to have a cup of the Ocean Grill’s New England clam chowder ($6).
Then for entrees, the other members of our party all went for the evening’s three seafood specials: one chose the grouper ($36), one went for the red snapper ($33), and my husband ordered the pompano ($31).
Great choices, under most circumstances, but not on the third night of stone-crab season.
So I ordered a large portion of the stone crabs for my entrée (a pound and a quarter for $44) so the others could sample a few and better understand just what they were missing.
The Ocean Grill serves the claws chilled, of course, with a homemade mustard sauce. (I personally prefer to savor them with just a touch of lemon.) They were every bit as wonderful as I remembered from last spring. And while the other members of our party all spoke highly of their seafood entrées (the grilled black grouper, the panko crusted red snapper, and my husband’s broiled pompano topped with apricot butter all drew raves), I could tell they all secretly coveted my stone crabs.
For dessert, our companions decided to share a slice of macademia nut cheese cake. A great end to another memorable meal.
Dinner for two with a modest bottle of wine is likely to run you about $100 before tax and tip (if you pass up the somewhat more expensive stone crabs).
As a place to bring visitors for a unique Halloween or Christmas experience, there is no better choice.
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The reviewer dines anonymously at restaurants at the expense of Vero Beach 32963.
- Hours: Lunch – Monday – Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Dinner – Sunday – Friday from 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Saturday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
- Beverages: Full Bar
- Address: 1050 Sexton Plaza, Vero Beach
- Phone: 772-231-5409