As you can imagine, I follow a lot of restaurant pages on Facebook so I can always stay up to date on the local restaurant scene. A few months ago I saw a post on the 121 Tapas on the Water’s page that I was pretty excited about. They had recently changed ownership and a new chef was going to be running the kitchen. This chef is someone who I became familiar with a few years ago and his food has always been outstanding! He has been working in a few different kitchens around the area, but he was always cooking someone else’s menu. Now that he has his own kitchen and a brand new menu, I was really excited to check it out! Who is this chef you ask? You’ll just have to keep reading to find out!
If your not familiar with 121 Tapas on the Water, it’s located in Fort Pierce and is at the corner of Melody Lane and Orange Avenue just a short distance down the street from the Fort Pierce Farmers Market. Upon entry, it has a fun jazzy vibe with the dark colored walls and bright artwork hung throughout. There is a large bar that is the main focal point when you enter the restaurant where you can sit, relax and enjoy a drink or a full meal. The dining room is bright and airy during the day and becomes a little bit cozier after nightfall.
Now let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer and what I had to eat!
I let Chef choose my dishes for the evening and he started me out with a classic smoked salmon. The salmon was of impeccable quality, very silky and it had just the right about of smoke & salt on it.
This wedge salad has the texture of a finely chopped coleslaw, but had all the classic flavors of a wedge salad so you get all the amazing flavors together in each and every bite. The lettuce was crisp and very fresh, the bacon was smoky and added a nice crunch, and the tomatoes were sweet and delicious!
This dish is made with finely diced beef tenderloin and is mixed with capers, shallots, a hint of lemon, and is served on a crusty bread and topped with shaved Parmesan. So simple, yet so delicious!
It takes quite a bit to “WOW” me these days because I taste so many different things as part of my job, but this dish did just that. Don’t let it’s simplicity fool you, there are big flavors in here that work very well together. The scallops were cooked to perfection with the middle still being translucent which allowed them to just melt in my mouth. The sweetness of the carrots paired perfectly with the saltiness of the scallops for that salty & sweet combination I love so much. A truly outstanding dish!
I was getting pretty full by this time of the evening, but this dish was so good, I had to stop myself from finishing it. The short ribs were so tender, only a fork was needed to flake it apart. The risotto was a little bit looser than I expected it to be, but it allowed the rice to soak up some of that beefy au jus in each bite.
While it may look like a dense NY style cheesecake, this one was lighter and creamier than I expected it to be. It was topped with whipped cream and a mixed berry compote. A wonderful way to top off a fabulous meal!
So who is the mystery chef I’ve been talking about? I first tasted Chef Patrick Hughes food when I reviewed Maison Martinique over 3 years ago, and again at Top Chef where he was a finalist with a dish that I still remember to this day. I’m very happy to have him back in a kitchen where he controls the menu. I suggest you run, don’t walk (taking the car would be faster) and head down to 121 Tapas on the Water in Fort Pierce and get a taste of his amazing cuisine, I know you won’t be disappointed!
Address: 121 Melody Ln, Fort Pierce, FL 34950
Phone: (772) 781-0943
Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Saturday, 3:00 pm – 9:30pm, Closed on Sunday