Wow, what a year 2020 has been! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think we would be dealing with a worldwide pandemic and that it would literally shut everything down for months. While we’ve lost a few places, its not as bad as I thought it might be. The restaurants in this area plan for droughts like this since our town is seasonal, so the majority of them have survived the worst of it. With the governor allowing restaurants to go back to 100% capacity, that has certainly helped keep our mom & pop places open and in business.
Over the last year, I’ve made a few changes to my blog. Back in March I rebranded to help further my reach on the Treasure Coast and to better align with my diners club, Treasure Coast Savor, or aka “Savor Club“. I also merged Savor Club and my blog into one website, so it’s now a one stop shop for deals and reviews! Business for me starting to pick up again in June and I’ve been going strong ever since. I’ve also partnered with Visit Indian River County Chamber of Commerce and I’ve been writing articles for them now too! It’s been a great partnership and I have definitely seen a boost with my social media follows and traffic to my website because of it.
Now on to the awards! Let’s jump right in and see who this year’s winners are, and see what I had to eat from the past year! Listed below are my Top 10 Best Dishes (in no particular order), Chef of the Year, and Restaurant of the Year winners. The winning dishes were selected from the reviews I’ve done over the past 12 months.
Top 10 Best Dishes from 2020
Citron Bistro – Vero Beach, FL
Maple Balsamic Glazed Salmon – “Tucked away in the Village Shops just a little bit north of Vero on A1A is this fantastic little eatery. I first reviewed them back in 2016 and I was so impressed with what I tasted back then, I couldn’t wait to go back and try a few more of their most popular dishes. Chef Tibor has been with them since the beginning when they first opened a little over 6 years ago. His dishes are expertly prepared and the flavor combinations were spot on. While I normally don’t finish all the dishes due to the quantity of them served to me, that Salmon dish was just so amazing that I had to finish it!”
Cobalt Restaurant – Vero Beach, FL
NY Strip Steak & Skirt Steak – “Cobalt has always featured a very seafood forward menu with unique and tasty dishes. With the recent remodel and menu update of Heaton’s, Cobalt plans to shift their menu more towards a high end steak house. On the night of our visit we got to taste two of their new offerings. On the left side of the plate is a NY Strip Steak, and on the right is a skirt steak. Sides included asparagus, orange and yellow carrots, and a side of charred Brussels sprouts.”
Coffee House 1420 – Vero Beach, FL
Cubano Sandwich – “I finally had a chance to stop by the other day and let me tell you, what Chef Michael Glatz has created here is nothing short of spectacular! The layout and design of the restaurant rivals even the largest of coffee chains spread all across the country. The menu, while simplistic, every item he serves is of the highest quality and made with the finest ingredients he can find. Everything I tasted was fantastic, but I can’t stop thinking about his Cuban sandwich. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s THE BEST in the area!”
Counter Culture – Vero Beach, FL
Sod Buster Sandwich (Vegan) – “I first discovered Chef Anthony and Lisa’s tasty dishes at the Hope for Families Center Top Chef competition a few years ago where they won first place for best dessert. Their current location, just off of Indian River Blvd north of the Barber bridge, they are now in the Boulevard Tennis Club. Membership is not required to eat there and they do have a large outdoor dining space where you can watch the members play tennis. They offer many different vegetarian, vegan, and keto style dishes. They are a scratch kitchen too, so just ask Chef Anthony to modify the dish to your personal preferences.”
Dinner Revolution – Vero Beach, FL
Tommy’s Hot Chicken Sandwich – “I’ve been so hungry for a Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwich that I requested these guys to put it on their menu. In only 2 weeks, it became their best selling sandwich of all time, beating out the previous champ, the Roast Beef Press! The chicken was fried till crispy and coated with Chef Nick’s own hot sauce and topped with pickles and mayo. Just enough heat to let you know it’s spicy, but not so much you can’t enjoy the flavor too! It’s due to come back on the menu very soon, so keep an eye out for it!”
Ember & Oak – Melbourne, FL
Fried Whole “Buffalo” Cauliflower – “Ember & Oak continues to impress me with both their food and service. They feature gigantic dinosaur bone style Short Ribs, Tomahawk Prime Ribeye steaks, beef fat cooked French fries, and charcuterie boards with so many different options on them it was staggering. The dishes we were served were presented beautifully, expertly prepared, and they definitely had that “WOW” factor I’m always looking for.
Fire and Wine – Vero Beach, FL
Pan Seared Golden Seabass – “There’s a new trend with high-end restaurants opening in unassuming locations without much signage. They want to you seek them out and feel like you discovered something special. Unfortunately, the secret is out, and people have discovered this restaurant, and it’s good, I mean REALLY GOOD. The kind of good you would expect to find in New York city, not in the small town of Vero Beach. Chef Chuck’s dishes are some of the most creative I’ve seen anywhere. His use of flavors and textures is truly unique.”
South Fork Kitchen & Bar – Stuart, FL
Grilled Octopus – “Upon entry, the restaurant had a modern, yet contemporary feel and was very comfortable. With lots of windows at the front and side, it was bright and airy. I took a seat and waited for my first dishes to arrive. I eat at a lot of different places so it takes a lot to impress me these days, but WOW, the food here is truly amazing! Each dish was presented beautifully and truly a work of art on a plate. Chef Ron’s use of salty, sweet, acid, and heat was very well balanced and excited my palate with each bite.”
Vinz Wining & Dining – Vero Beach, FL
Tuna Tartare Tower – “The restaurant is tucked away in the back of the Pelican Plaza and can’t be seen as you are driving by on A1A. While the inside of the restaurant is quite cozy, they do have full access to the covered patio for al fresco dining. If you are into oysters and caviar, then you must check out the new raw bar they just installed on the patio. With Live Music almost nightly, the largest selection of wine by the glass anywhere in Vero, and a wonderful menu, this place will quickly become your new favorite spot on the island!”
Wood N Spoon – Vero Beach, FL
Curry Chicken Salad Wrap – “The Wood N Spoon has long been one of my favorite soup & sandwich shops in Vero. I first reviewed them almost 3 years ago and fell in love with their food back then. The food that I tasted during my visit at the new location in Royal Palm Pointe still meets up to Chef Mike’s high standards and offers a very diverse menu with lots of options to choose from. One of my all time favorites on the menu is the Curry Chicken Salad Wrap. Every bite is filled with loads of flavor! It’s a must try next time you stop by!”
Chef of the Year – Michael Lander
“While Michael’s on 7th is one of the newest on the culinary scene in Vero, Chef Michael brings his many years of experience with him to it. He started his culinary career 35 years ago in Atlanta, GA. In 2000, he moved to Vero Beach when an Executive Chef position opened up at The Moorings Club. After 12 years there, he decided to open his own placed called Michael’s Table in Oct 2012. It was located inside Orchid Island Brewery at the end of Ocean Drive. After many successful years there, he know it was time to expand and decided to open Michael’s on 7th just a few years ago. He responsibly sources as many ingredients as possible from local farms and handles them with respect. His food is always amazing, each and every time I visit” Photo Credit: Jessica Arenas
Restaurant of the Year – Cafe 66
Left to Right: Dan, Abbie (daughter), and Lacy – “We here at The Treasure Coast Foodie love writing about success stories, especially during these trying times. With a lot of restaurants struggling due to Covid-19 restrictions, this one seems to be thriving. Owners, Dan and Lacy are two of the hardest working people in the industry and have taken this business from a take out only place in the middle of no-where, to a full fledged sit down restaurant in under 2 years. Now that’s pretty impressive! Since moving to the new location and officially opening on July 23rd, their business has quadrupled! As a backyard BBQ enthusiast myself, I’m pretty picky when it comes to BBQ and theirs is some of the best I’ve tasted in this area”
For those of you wondering about my Golden Fork Awards Ceremony event, I decided not to have it this year out of an abundance of caution due to Covid-19. For now, I will continue to host our monthly foodie meetup events at local restaurants to continue helping them survive. What do I have planned for 2022? I’m putting together a team to help me plan The Golden Fork Awards Ceremony plus another event I’ve been wanting to do for a quite a while now, so stay tuned for information coming later this year about both events!