One of the more scenic rides in these parts is the trip down an Old Florida memory lane, St. Lucie County’s Indian River Drive, a narrow, winding road – best driven in daylight hours – which meanders along the bluff overlooking the lagoon from downtown Fort Pierce all the way south to Stuart.
After you pass through Jensen Beach, tucked back from the road on the left just before you reach Sewall’s Point, you come to the Dolphin Bar & Shrimp House.
Not too many people anymore remember this spot as the home of Frances Langford’s Outrigger. The big band singer (best known for her sultry rendition of “I’m in the mood for love”) built the Polynesian-themed restaurant in the 1960s, and entertained celebrities including Bob Hope there until selling it in the 1980s.
Today, it has been restored as something of a shrine to Langford – lots of photos of the actress with celebs on the walls – and it boasts a panoramic view of the lagoon that is one of the best you will find anywhere.
Last Sunday, we arrived just as dinner service was about to begin, and were shown to a nice table for two overlooking the water.
For starters, my husband and I both ordered the shrimp and lobster bisque (cup $7, bowl $9).
The bisque, a creamy specialty of the house using stock made from the shells of numerous prawns, was presented along with a gilded bottle of sherry. A dollop of sherry makes almost any bisque better, and this was no exception.
We then enjoyed house salads which were included with the meal.
For entrees, I ordered an off-the-menu special, a deep-fried Maine lobster tail ($40), and my husband had another special, the Italian swordfish ($28).
I can’t say I ever had this lobster preparation before, and I was a bit dubious. But dipping the 8-ounce tail in batter and deep frying it locked in all the juicy sweetness of the lobster meat. Served over mashed potato, it proved a successful dish.
My husband was slightly less enthusiastic about his Italian swordfish, which involved breading a piece of sword in Italian bread crumbs and frying it to a golden brown.
The swordfish beneath the breading was perfectly cooked, but he thought the fried crust overwhelmed and detracted from the sword’s taste. The fish was served over spinach gnocchi, which was a bit doughy.
For dessert, we ordered the Dolphin’s orange sunset cake, layers of fresh-squeezed orange juice cake filled with a sweet Florida orange custard (yum!), and concluded with a double espresso.
Most of the entrées here run in the mid-to-high $20s, and dinner for two, with wine and before tax and tip, is likely to run $110 to $120.
As we drove home (not along the river, but on US 1), we agreed that on our next visit, we will stick with the shrimp and seafood dishes on the menu, which have been reliably good.
And if you have never been there, we would nominate the Dolphin Bar & Shrimp House as a place to go for lunch or an early dinner (be sure to ask to be seated on the porch).
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This reviewer dines anonymously at restaurants at the expense of Vero Beach 32963.
Dolphin Bar and Shrimp House
- Hours: Daily, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
- Beverages: Full Bar
- Address: 1401 N.E. Indian River Drive, Jensen Beach
- Phone: 772-781-5136