In looking back the other day over a decade of dining reviews, I was not surprised to find that I had pretty much exhausted my supply of superlatives in describing The Tides.
This venerable restaurant on Cardinal Drive has been a beachside dining favorite – and arguably the island’s best restaurant – for many years, and after a recent visit, I can assure its loyal fans that The Tides is still at the top of its game.
While the dishes at The Tides are consistently wonderful, much of this restaurant’s success has to do with making patrons feel like family.
On a lovely fall evening, our party of four was warmly greeted at the door by Valerie Martin, host at Maison Martinique during its glory days when her late husband presided over the kitchen, who ushered us to a table in an attractively decorated inside room.
As very personable server Rainey took our wine order, über-host Claudia Arens, who directs the dining room staff, bustled over to welcome us and catch up on what we’d been doing.
Claudia and Valery spend all evening going from table to table, making sure all are well taken care of. Servers drop by tables other than their own to greet diners remembered from previous visits. Many other restaurants would benefit from an evening spent at The Tides observing all this.
For appetizers on this occasion, I decided to simply start with the house salad ($10). My husband, though, chose the oysters 2-2-2 ($16). One of our companions opted for the roast carrots and beet salad ($12) and the other went for a cup of lobster bisque ($8).
The carrot and beet salad was as tasty as it was attractive, with organic greens, goat cheese and roasted almonds, all tossed in a sherry wine vinaigrette. The lobster bisque came with a shot of brandy on the side that did not remain on the side very long.
As for the Blue Point oysters 2-2-2, this is one of my husband’s favorite dishes: two oysters cornmeal flash fried, two crab encrusted, and two oysters Rockefeller. Decadent.
For entrées, three of us went for the evening’s seafood specials. I chose the halibut ($38); one of our guests ordered the swordfish ($38), and my husband opted for the third seafood special, pompano ($38). Our other companion had a delicious herb encrusted chicken saltimbocca ($28).
All three seafood dishes were superb. The swordfish was a thing of beauty, perfectly grilled and topped with a pineapple salsa. The lightly egg-washed halibut was seared, served with tomato and broccolini. And the plantain encrusted pompano was topped with a corn rock shrimp relish.
We concluded the meal with three of The Tides’ fabulous desserts – a slice of chocolate cake, a piece of banana cake and a crème brulee (each $10).
Dinner for two with a modest bottle of wine, if you have dessert, will run approximately $160 before tip.
As we departed on this evening, chef/owner Leanne Kelleher emerged from the kitchen to say hello. We would tell you what we told her: For a combination of delicious food and a great total dining experience, there is no place in Vero better than The Tides.
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The reviewer dines anonymously at restaurants at the expense of Vero Beach 32963.
Hours: Nightly from 4:30 p.m.
Beverages: Full bar
Address: 3103 Cardinal Drive, Vero Beach