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DINING: Osceola Bistro is getting it together in the old downtown

From the day it opened four years ago, we have viewed Osceola Bistro as the restaurant with the most potential in Vero’s old downtown.

The Osceola Bistro’s courtyard garden – with fountain and flowers – is the most attractive patio setting on either side of the Indian River lagoon. And if you prefer to eat inside, the restaurant’s colonial-style dining room is as elegant as any around.

With chef/owner Christopher Bireley totally committed to fashioning imaginative dishes out of the freshest possible ingredients obtained from local farmers and fishermen, this restaurant should be a big winner.

And the good news is that on our most recent visit, everything finally seemed come together – the food, the ambiance, and the too-often shaky service – and we had the wonderful evening we have long anticipated.

Arriving around 8:15 without a reservation, we found the courtyard full – and only a couple of tables still available inside. But we were ushered to a nice spot along the south wall, and a server quickly appeared and took drink orders.

For starters on this evening, my husband went with a Caesar salad with anchovies (included with entrées) and I ordered the evening’s special salad, featuring locally-grown arugula, prosciutto, goat cheese, homemade focaccia croutons, and white balsamic vinaigrette (a $4 add-on with dinner). Both were very nice.

Then for main courses, I decided to have the local shrimp with pasta ($29) and my husband opted for the braised short rib ($29).

The Fellsmere organic shrimp were wonderful, sautéed with lemon, capers, tomato, chili flake, and feta cheese in a white wine broth, and served over housemade spinach linguine.

My husband’s marvelous short rib, marinated for 24 hours, came with horseradish mashed potatoes and on this evening tender asparagus spears. The two dishes could not have been better.

On previous visits, we also have enjoyed pompano and tuna au poivre. From our experience, whatever fresh seafood is being offered when you visit is likely to be very good.

To conclude the meal, we shared a slice of house-made Key Lime pie (sumptuous) and a couple of excellent espressos.

Our dinner – with one glass of wine each (OK, one of us may have had two) and no appetizer – came to $110 before tax and tip. But you can enjoy a variety of small plates here and probably come away with a tab for two in the $60 or $70 range.

My shrimp and pasta dish, for example, comes in a small size – which would have been more than enough – for $24.

Inside or out, this is an enjoyable place to eat. While the service at this restaurant at times has been more indifferent than you would expect from a dining spot serving food of this caliber, our hope is that this meal is an indication that Osceola Bistro finally is getting it together.

When it is good, it can be very good – and our most recent experience was good indeed.

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.

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