The Tides stays with what works

Written by Sheila O'Meara 7/4/2002

Appearing in the Vero Beach Press Journal

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" applies to The Tides.

It's been open for a couple of years and the menu has barely changed, which means it's reliable. Even the prices are reliable, which means these people are here for the long run, year round.

The cozy space three small rooms and a narrow terrace is welcoming and not fancy or intimidating. The service is excellent from the front, where partner Marylisa Alfalla smoothly takes care of reservations and seats diners according to their preference to the bustling busboys who never leave a water glass unfilled. The waiters, both male and female, know the food and are happy to help.

And the food is very fine indeed, thanks to owner and chef Leanne Kelleher. Her inventive dishes have become classics here.

The inside-out salimbocca or the gorgonzola-ed filet mignon or the Floribbean Mixed Sea Grill are perfect examples. They've been on the menu since the outset and remain favorites. On the other hand, Kelleher has the ambition to offer as many as four entree specials a day with a special soup and dessert to boot.

The night we dined, the special soup was corn chowder with chorizo sausage. Corn chowder is as irresistible to my husband as bolognese sauce, so he had to have it. He didn't regret it. The soup was thick and creamy with a smoky sausage aura.

We started with the Oysters 222, another all-time favorite. The 222 means two oysters are lightly fried, two are baked with crab meat, roasted peppers and lime juice, and two are grilled with mango barbecue sauce. And we still can't decide which ones were our favorites.

Another of our party had the coconut fried shrimp slightly spicy and perfectly crisp. The accompanying coleslaw was so good, our friend saved it on his bread plate when the appetizer plates were removed.

One of our entrees was made to order for our vegetarian friend: a mélange of vegetables that included zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms and the garlic mashed potatoes that accompany most entrees. It was very nicely presented.

The filet mignon, a menu regular, remains popular for good reasons: It's amazingly tender and flavorful with the addition of crisp smoked bacon, gorgonzola cheese, and caramelized Vidalia onions.

One of the day's specials was a large strip steak with red and yellow roasted peppers always a favorite of mine. The steak was naturally less tender than the filet but even tastier.

We were stuffed, so we shared a dessert. The specialty of the day was chocolate creme brulee, crunchy caramelized sugar topped a satiny dark chocolate custard.

Gilded lily? More like making a good thing better. The Tides is good at that.

Sheila O'Meara is an independent, free-lance restaurant reviewer who dines at the expense of the Press Journal. She dines anonymously in order to receive the same treatment any diner would encounter. The review is based on one visit. She is the former managing editor of the Cook's Magazine, Good Food and European Travel & Life magazines.

FOOD: **** 1/2
SERVICE: **** 1/2

Excellent: *****
Very good: ****
Good: ***
Fair: **
Poor: *

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