At Disney’s Vero Beach resort, the fine-dining restaurant is gone – but the dining, minus the white table cloths, may be finer than ever.
During the summer and fall, Disney ripped out Sonya’s, its stuffy formal restaurant, and Shutters, its casual restaurant. It then replaced Shutters with the Wind & Waves Grill.
Unlike Shutters, which had a distinctly nautical motif with sailboats, buoys and life-preservers, the Wind & Waves Grill is a brighter, airy restaurant with more of a beachy vibe.
The menu of the new Wind & Waves Grill, which opened last week, is heavily focused on local seafood and produce, offering a variety of creative appetizers and dinner entrées.
On a visit last Friday, I decided to start with the brick oven-roasted clams ($14), my husband ordered the house-smoked pork belly ($12), and our companion started with a bowl of seafood chowder ($6.50).
The chowder, a creamy concoction with potatoes, corn and chunks of conch, was delicious. And my husband raved about his tender roasted pork belly, which sat atop a bed of pureed cauliflower surrounded by an apple cider gastrique.
My tender Sebastian clams were served in a broth made from Cigar City Jai Alai IPA ale, butter, parsley, fennel, garlic and shallots. The pale ale imparted a slight bitterness to the broth that paired well with the clams.
Then for entrées, I chose the wood-grilled grouper filet ($29), my husband opted for the Atlantic flounder with local clams ($30), and our companion decided to go with one of the only carryovers from the old Shutters’ menu, a flatbread.
The Wind & Wave Grill’s flatbreads seem somewhat more creative than at the old Shutters, with three offered: cheeseburger, Florida BLT, and smoked chicken and apple (all $14).
Our companion went for the cheeseburger flatbread, which included crispy bacon, romaine lettuce, local tomato jam and lemon mayonnaise. She said it was as good as it looked, with just a bit too much mayonnaise.
My perfectly grilled local grouper filet was served atop Florida hearts of palm and an avocado/cucumber salad, surrounded by an inner ring of charred red onion sauce and an outer ring of herb vinaigrette. A very flavorful dish.
My husband’s Atlantic flounder came atop a bed of sliced baby potatoes and Applewood bacon, surrounded by five clams, and all in a creamy sweet corn chowder broth. Luscious.
For dessert, our excellent server Kathy talked us into an order of pineapple cinnamon bread pudding with caramel sauce and a scoop of Dole Whip ($8). Dinner for two, accompanied by a glass of wine or one of the Wind & Wave’s Floridian craft beers, should run in the neighborhood of $100-$120 before tip.
As for Sonya’s, at one point mysteriously rated by Florida Trend magazine as the top restaurant in Vero, it has been turned into the Wind & Waves Market – a “grab and go mart” serving burgers, sandwiches and sweets for guests to enjoy poolside or take back to their room.
So where there were two Disney restaurants, now there is one. But the new one may be better than either of the old – and if you live toward the northern end of our island, the Wind & Waves Grill is definitely worth a try.
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The reviewer dines anonymously at restaurants at the expense of Vero Beach 32963.