October is one of my favorite times of the year.
Not only does it finally bring a respite from Vero’s long, hot summers, but it’s the month pompano return to local waters and stone-crab-claws make their way to the Ocean Grill.
The other compelling reason to visit the Grill this time of year, of course, is to check out its annual spook-tacular transformation for Halloween.
So last week, we went to the Grill a couple of days after the Oct. 15 start of stone crab season, and were ushered to a nice table just off to the side of the ghouls and goblins lurking in the main dining room.
No restaurant provides the haunting Halloween experience of the Grill.
Our server Nina quickly handed us a card with that evening’s specials, and it was immediately obvious we had hit the October trifecta. On the list were the stone crab claws – either as an appetizer or an entrée – as well as local pompano.
I decided to go with the crab claws as dinner ($29 for ¾ of a pound, $39 for 1 ¼ pounds) and my husband ordered the broiled pompano ($32).
For starters, we shared an order of fresh New England calamari ($11). The lightly tempura fried calamari served over mixed greens with a firecracker sauce were a great starter.
The stone crab claws, chilled and cracked, were everything I had been dreaming of through those sultry summer months when they are not available.
While they are served with the Ocean Grill’s homemade mustard sauce, I personally prefer to savor them with just a touch of lemon. Absolutely wonderful.
And as kind of an extra bonus for a recovering cardiac patient, I was pleased to discover that stone crab claws are not just tasty but far lower in cholesterol than other shellfish I love such as shrimp.
My husband’s broiled pompano, topped with apricot butter, also lived up to his high expectations.
On this evening, we decided to forgo dessert even though October also is a month when one of us qualifies for the Ocean Grill’s fabulous birthday cake. (You need to order that in advance.)
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 stone crabs. And interestingly, after a period when they were in short supply, even stone crabs cost less at the Ocean Grill than they did a couple of years ago. How about that!
I might also note that if you don’t get to the Ocean Grill for Halloween, there is always Christmas – when the Grill turns itself into as much of the quintessential Vero holiday experience as the Ocean Drive Christmas parade.
As a place to bring visitors, and especially at Halloween or Christmas, there is no better choice.
I welcome your comments, and encourage you to send feedback to me at email@example.com.
The reviewer is a beachside resident who 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. and Saturday from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m.
- Beverages: Full Bar
- Address: 1050 Sexton Plaza, Vero Beach
- Phone: 772-231-5409