The Tides: Premier restaurant continues to raise the bar

Calamari [Photo: Kaila Jones]

Over the course of two decades, we’ve seen a number of good restaurants come and go.

They appear on the Vero restaurant scene, explode in popularity like a dining supernova, then fade or vanish entirely.

But one restaurant just keeps getting better, year after year. And as it approaches its 20th anniversary in April, The Tides has become the brightest star in the Vero dining constellation.

The stellar force that holds it there is chef/owner Leanne Kelleher, who six nights a week is in the kitchen, making sure that her restaurant – every night – is at the top of its game.

While some of her Floridian and New American dishes have been on the menu for years, chef Kelleher is constantly tweaking their preparation, bringing exciting new tastes and textures to her many fans.

An example can be found in one of my husband’s favorite dishes, the fresh pompano.

When my husband first fell in love with it at The Tides some years back, the fresh pompano filets were egg washed and pan sautéed, served with a lobster beurre blanc sauce and topped with roasted corn relish. A wonderful, simple preparation.

On our most recent visit last week, however, my husband’s pompano ($36) was almond crusted, served over a butternut squash ginger sauce, and topped by roasted tomatoes. A very successful updating.

But I get ahead of myself. For appetizers on last week’s visit, my husband decided to start with the sea scallops ($18), and I went for the mussels ($18).

While the perfectly seared sea scallops were delicious, the heaping bowl of mussels brought to the table was positively decadent. Steamed in garlic, white wine and butter, the mussels were tender and juicy – and the sauce was to-die-for.

My halibut entrée was also excellent, lightly sautéed, served over roasted red bliss potatoes with a lemon dill sauce, and finished with an olive relish and a couple of crispy bay scallops.

On a visit with friends a couple of weeks earlier, our appetizers consisted of the lobster bisque ($14 and superb), the fried calamari ($16), ceviche ($17) and crab cakes ($18). For entrées, we enjoyed the salmon ($30), swordfish ($38 and always excellent here), grouper ($38 and ditto) and penne pasta ($22).

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 both recent visits, we were well taken care of by a very personable server, Marc, and über-host Claudia Arens, who directs the dining room staff, dropped by our table several times each night to make sure we were enjoying our dishes.

Dinner for two with a modest bottle of wine, if you have dessert, will run approximately $160 to $180 before tip.

This venerable restaurant on Cardinal Drive has been a beachside dining favorite for many years. After two decades, it is time to say it flat out: The Tides is Vero’s best restaurant.

I welcome your comments, and encourage you to send feedback to me at

The reviewer dines anonymously at restaurants at the expense of Vero Beach 32963.

The Tides

  • Hours: Nightly from 4:30 p.m.
  • Beverages: Full Bar
  • Address: 3103 Cardinal Drive
  • Phone: 772-234-3966

Photos by: Kaila Jones
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