The 2016 EPCOT Food and Wine Festival

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine

It’s that time of year again as I head back to the 2016 EPCOT Food & Wine Festival and try all of the different dishes as we take our “trip around the world”.  Disney does a really great job in keeping with the authenticity of the dishes, yet making them palatable for the majority of the public that are not that adventurous of eaters.  I did notice that some of the more “exotic” items that were on the menu last year were not here this year.  I’m assuming that they did not sell as well as they had hoped.  A lot of the same options that I reviewed last year were back again, so I tried to sample some new ones, while still trying the standout dishes from last year to see if they are still as good, if not better.  My article will be a little bit different this year,  I will not feature everything that we ate, and just focus on my “Top ATE” dishes this year.

Without further ado, let’s jump right in and see what I had to eat!

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#8 – Germany – Schinkennudeln – ($3.75) – Coming in at number eight is a Pasta Gratin with Ham and Cheese.  The dish was like a hash brown casserole that had diced ham and what tasted like gruyere cheese in it.  If there was actual pasta in it, the texture seemed more like the shredded potatoes than  pasta to me.  Flavor was subtle, and I think it’s one of those dishes that would taste better the next day after the flavors have time to fully come together after being refrigerated.  Overall not bad, just not good enough to make it to the top of my list.

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#7 – Mexico – Barbacoa Enchilada – ($5.50) – Next up at number seven is this Barbacoa Enchilada from the Mexico booth.  It’s made with a corn tortilla, filled with beef barbacoa,  topped with Oaxaca mole sauce, and garnished with fried onions.  The corn tortilla was soft and had good flavor.  The beef barbacoa was seasoned well, the mole sauce was full of flavor and had just a tiny bit of heat to it.  I was a bit confused by the fried onions on top, as this does not seem traditional to me, but it did give a nice texture variation to the dish.

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#6 – Ireland – Warm Chocolate Pudding – ($3.75) – The first dessert to make my list is this wonderful chocolate pudding.  The pudding is not what you would expect  when you think of pudding, at least not for me.  It’s firmer than you think it would be, yet quite soft at the same time.  It has a cake-like texture, yet somewhat like a firm set pudding.  The custard sauce over the top tasted like Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur and was lightly sweetened.  The pudding was warm and had a wonderfully rich dark chocolate flavor.

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#5 – China – Beijing Roasted Duck – ($6.50) – Duck is one of my favorite meats, so it’s no surprise that this made it to my number 5 favorite dish this year.  It’s made with roasted duck and served in a steamed bun with hoisin sauce.  The duck was perfectly cooked and the skin was crispy.  The steamed bun was soft and very fresh.  The hoisin sauce was sweeter than I expected it to be.  At first, I actually thought it was plum sauce which is more traditional with roasted duck.  It was garnished with red onion and chives.  It was fabulous!

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#4 – Belgium – Belgian Waffle – ($3.75) – We had this dish last year and it was one of our stand-out favorites, so we definitely had to try it again.  It’s a traditional Belgian waffle served with berry compote and whipped cream on top.  The waffle itself was crispy, but I do wish that it had a tiny bit more malt flavor to take it over the top.  The berry compote was both sweet and tart at the same time and was delicious!

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#3 – New Zealand – Lamb Meatball – ($5.25) – I was a surprised at first when I received the dish pictured above, especially when I was expecting a meatball and got this.  I never actually saw the meatball, I just assumed it was in there somewhere.  It’s served in a bread bowl with a spicy tomato chutney served over the top.  I picked up the entire bread bowl and took a bite.  It was delicious!  The bread was soft and very fresh, yet held together under the meatball and the chutney very well.  The meatball was perfectly cooked and juicy, and the tomato chutney was sweet with a tiny bit of heat on the back end.

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#2 – Brazil – Escondidinho de Carne – ($5.00) – When I received this dish, I was really disappointed in the presentation.  I was hoping that it would taste better than it looked and thankfully it was way better than I expected it to be.   It’s also known as “Little Hidden One” and is a layered meat pie with mashed yucca.  In the bottom there is seasoned ground beef with mashed yucca on top, then it’s baked to a golden brown .  I would describe it as a Caribbean Sheppard’s Pie.  The seasoned ground beef tasted like the filling in an empanada, and the mashed yucca was smooth and creamy.  My wife and I were fighting over the last few bites of it, it was that good!

And finally the #1 dish from this year’s EPCOT Food & Wine Festival 2016 is. . .

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#1 – Canada – “Le Cellier” Wild Mushroom Beef Filet Mignon – ($7.75) – Once again the Canadian booth continues to impress me with their offerings, and moving up from my number two spot on last year’s review is this fabulous wild mushroom filet mignon!   The filet was cooked to a perfect medium once again and is served with sautéed mushrooms in a truffle-butter sauce.  The cut of beef was extremely tender, the mushrooms were perfectly cooked, and the truffle-butter sauce was full of flavor!  An outstanding dish and well deserving of the number one spot on my “Top ATE” list!

In Conclusion:

How much did all of this fun cost us you ask?  We were really surprised when we got home and totaled up all of our receipts.  For everything that you saw in this post, and two people sharing each dish, our total was only $63.25!  Last year’s total was $64.25, so we ended up saving $1.00 this year!  Not too bad for all that we had.  Our total for the day, with a tank of gas and parking included on my wife’s annual pass, was just a little over $85.00!  Next year I will check the menu’s and see if they have made a dramatic enough of a change for me to go back and do this again, otherwise I will just wait a few years and try again when they have some newer dishes to offer.

Polo Deli – Restaurant Review

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine

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My next tasting experience takes me over to the island side of Vero Beach, and this time to the Polo Deli.  This is the little brother to Polo Grill which I reviewed a few months ago.  Owners Kelly and John while traveling in Paris, came across a shop called Davoli and just fell in love with it.  It’s a gourmet deli and a specialty food shop that has been around for a long time.  They loved it so much, they decided to open their own version of it right here in Vero Beach.

It’s located at the south end of Ocean Drive, just down the street from Polo Grill.  They do have a parking lot that is located just off of Flamevine Lane for your convenience.  They primarily focus on take out since there is no dining room or outdoor seating available.  The day I had lunch there it was a beautiful day, so we just walked over to Humiston Park and had our lunch on a picnic table.  Polo Deli offers specialty sandwiches, salads, prepared dinner entrees, steaks, cheese, crackers, snacks, and of course a huge wine selection.  They just re-opened for “season”, so I thought it was the perfect time to give them a give them a try.

Now on to the food!  Let’s jump right in and see what I had to eat!

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Conch Fritters – ($12.99 per lb) – Up first to wet our appetites were these conch fritters.  We received them cold, but I think you can specify that you would like them warmed up.   They were chock full of conch and did not seem to have much filler in them.  The sauce served alongside was creamy, sweet, and had a tiny bit of heat.  My dining companion thought he tasted horseradish in it, but I did not.  I did taste what seemed to be seasoning salt.  They were really good!

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Floridian Shaker Salad – ($7.99) –  I’ve heard of and seen shaker salads before, but not had an opportunity to try one yet.  The Floridian is a quinoa and wild rice salad with dried apricots, shallots, a layer of lettuce, and diced chicken, with a mandarin sesame ginger salad dressing.  First, you take off the lid, remove the dressing.  There is another piece of plastic that needs to be removed that separated the dressing from the salad.  Once removed, you pour the dressing over the salad, then place the main lid back on and just shake it up.  We then poured it into a bowl and tried it.  It was awesome!  Everything was super fresh, the dressing had an Asian twist to it, and the chicken gave it that kick of protein it needed.  I’m definitely going back soon to get another one of these, it was that good!

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Swedish Chicken Sandwich – ($9.99) – One of the newer items on the menu this season is this chicken sandwich.  It contains sliced chicken breast, brie cheese, and Lingonberry sauce. You have your choice of bread it can be made on.  You can choose from a French baguette, whole wheat baguette, or a croissant which was my choice.   The croissant was buttery, light and flaky.  The chicken is sliced from a roasted chicken breast and is hormone & antibiotic free.  It was perfectly cooked and still very juicy.  The lingonberry sauce was sweet and tangy and took this sandwich over the top with that sweet and salty flavor combination that is so good!

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Hot Ham and Brie – ($9.99) – Stacy Cook was my lunch date for this review and this is his favorite sandwich here.  It’s made with sliced Duck Deli ham, brie cheese, lettuce and tomato on a French Baggett.  The ham was very fresh and sliced the perfect thickness, the brie was melted over the top and was very creamy.  I can see why this has been one of Stacy’s favorites and why it stays on the menu from year to year, it was fantastic!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies – ($0.00) – Why is the price zero you might ask?  That’s because you get one cookie with each sandwich or shaker salad purchase for FREE!  They are baked fresh in house each day and are a soft cookie with tons of chocolate chunks in them.  We let them sit out in the sun as we ate lunch and they were warm and gooey from the sun reheating them.  They were really great and a perfect way to round out our wonderful meal!

In Conclusion:

I’ve been hearing great things about this cool little ocean side deli and my experience here did not disappoint.  Everything that we tried was beyond fresh and full of flavor.   While I have not been to Davoli in Paris to make a comparison, Owners Kelly and John have done a great job putting a place together that I’m sure reflects similar offerings and atmosphere right here in Vero Beach that they can be proud of.

Have you tried Polo Deli?  What has your experience been with them?  Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts, or feel free to email me at thefoodguy@verovine.com with your questions or comments.

Atmosphere – 5 Forks

Service – 5 Forks

Food – 5 Forks

Ratings Scale Legend:

1 to 5 Forks – 1 Bad to 5 Excellent

Polo Deli Facebook Page /  Polo Deli Information Page

Hours:  Monday – Saturday – 10:30am til 3:00pm Closed on Sundays

Address: 2916 Cardinal Dr, Vero Beach, FL 32963

 

The Yellow Rose Cakery – Business Review

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine

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As a kid growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, my mom would always make my birthday or other special occasion cakes from “scratch”.  She would grab a box cake mix and a jar of icing off the shelf at the grocery store and make an 8 x 11 cake for me.  It was always frosted nicely and she would decorate the best she could, so to me, this was as great as cake was growing up.  As I got older and more interested in culinary arts, I actually took a special home economics cake decorating class in elementary school.  We learned all about baking and how to decorate cakes.  My final project was a Star Wars R2-D2 cake that I think turned out pretty good considering my age and experience level!  Later in life I was still interested in cake decorating, so my wife and I took a class from JC Penney’s when they used to offer them.  I never really got that good at it, but it was definitely a lot of fun and I did learn a thing or two about cake decorating.

In today’s cake making and decorating world, it’s a totally different animal than what I learned many years ago.  The baker has to be a visionary and an artist.  They have to take an idea and make it from nothing.  At The Yellow Rose Cakery, that visionary is Andi Brown.  She is the brains and artist that creates some totally amazing cakes for her customers.  From the basic to the extreme, she is able to take care of all her customer’s needs.  I had an opportunity to sit down with her recently and sample some of her cakes.

Let’s dive right in and take a look at what Andi made for us to try!

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All we could say was WOW once we saw what she made for us to try.  These are known as The Yellow Rose Cakery Industrials design and are $65.00 each and serve 20 people.  The price may vary slightly depending on the level of detail you would like, so be sure to ask Andi for additional details.  With these 5 cakes, there were over 100 servings of cake and there were only 6 of us at the tasting.  Needless to say, we all got to take a bunch of cake home.  Below I will dive into each individual cake and will give you the specific details of each one.

Let’s get started!

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This is one of her birthday cake designs and is 1/2 white and 1/2 chocolate cake.  There are four  layers of alternating cake flavors and are separated with a vanilla buttercream icing.  The outside is then iced with her vanilla buttercream, then painted with the rainbow colors and sprinkles are added for decoration. The meringue drops were bubble gum flavored and a nice touch.  This is perfect for the someone that likes a traditional flavored cake.

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This is unlike any other cake that I have heard of or tried before.  It’s a Pumpkin Pie layered cake.  So what does that mean exactly?  Andi makes a pumpkin pie the traditional way, then adds pumpkin flavored cake batter over the top of it, and bakes it all as one.  She does this multiple times, then uses those as the layers in the cake.  Here is the official description from her website:  “A layer of pie crust baked to golden brown and then a layer of pumpkin pie and a layer of pumpkin cake baked to perfection, then layered and iced with our vanilla bean buttercream.”  For the pumpkin spiced flavor aficionados, this is truly heaven on a plate.  When you cut it open, you can definitely see all of the different layers of the cake and the pie.  The pumpkin pie filling helps keep the cake very moist.  Surprisingly it did not seem as sweet as you think it might be with everything that it has going on.  I’ve heard she also does this same type of cake with an apple pie, so I’m looking forward to trying that one soon!

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Up next is Andi’s version of a red velvet cake.  It has multiple layers of red velvet cake with a vanilla bean buttercream icing in between each.  I don’t think I have ever tried a “real” red velvet cake before because this tasted different than what I was expecting. This is not your typical red velvet cake with cream cheese icing. Andi told us that a red velvet cake is kind of thought as a “garbage” cake because of all the ingredients used to make it.  The flavor was subtle, yet complex due to all of the different ingredients used.

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This is known as the Peachy F@#ckin Keen cake.  It’s a “spiced brown butter cake incorporated with diced and pureed peaches, then baked to a golden perfection. Layered with our Vanilla Bean Buttercream and fresh raspberry compote, then iced in our vanilla bean buttercream.”   This is one of Andi’s most popular cakes and award-winning too!  She recently competed in the Jeane Graves Charity Cupcake Challenge at the Heritage Center a few weeks ago and took first place in 3 of the 4 categories in the Professional Baker Division!  This cake reminded me of a light & fluffy peach bread pudding and had me wishing for a scoop of vanilla ice cream to go alongside it.  This is one awesome cake and was definitely our favorite of the night!

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Last but not least is Andi’s Lemon Blackberry Cake.  It’s a “light lemon zest cake incorporated with whole fresh blackberries layered with blackberry buttercream and fresh whole blackberries, then iced in our vanilla bean buttercream icing.”  The cake was very moist and the blackberries tasted very fresh.  The decoration at the top was a cinnamon crunch sugar cookie and was also quite tasty!

Photo Gallery Courtsey of Christina Klingler Photography

In Conclusion:

We were invited to attend a cake tasting at Isabella’s bridal, and I had no idea what to expect.  Most bakers just simply make a few cupcakes in their specialty flavors for potential clients to try.  Being that I am “The Food Guy” people tend to give me an over the top experience to write about.  This was definitely one of those over the top experiences.  We were simply blown away by the artistry and the cakes in all of the different flavors she made for us.  By the end of the tasting, the 6 of us there were happily sitting at the table enjoying our sugar comas.  All of Andi’s cakes are made from scratch, no box mixes here.  She even goes as far as making her own buttermilk and fondant too. She is also able to accommodate any of your personal needs, such as gluten-free, egg free, or even dairy free, so from traditional to a truly one of a kind cake, The Yellow Rose Cakery definitely has your needs covered!

Andi also makes cakes for a local charity called The Little Birthday Angels.  She donates cakes and cupcakes for them every month for their birthday parties!  LBA provides cakes to homeless children to help them celebrate their birthdays.  For more information about this charity, please visit littlebirthdayangels.org.

The Yellow Rose Cakery Website Link

The Yellow Rose Cakery Facebook Page

Phone Number:  772-766-9746

Southern Social – Restaurant Review

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine

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Recently renamed to from Swine & Co.

Southern Social has been one of the most highly anticipated restaurant openings in Vero since I started writing my restaurant reviews last November.  I’ve heard people around town talking about it, curious about when they will open, but I could not find much information about it on the internet.  I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to a soft opening this past Saturday night to get a closer look.  Nick and Angela Novak, owners of Filthy’s Fine Cocktails & Beer, are teaming up with a former Riverside Cafe employee John Scarr and Chef Mike Van Buskirk, of Orchid Island Golf & Beach Club and Cobalt.  They believe they have created something unique to the local restaurant scene.  Do they have what it takes to survive in the crowded, yet impressive restaurant space in Vero?  Let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer.

They are located on 14th avenue, a little bit north of Baci Trattoria on the east side of the street.  They occupy the space that once housed Avanzare.  Street parking is available along 14th Ave, unfortunately do not have space for their own parking lot.  The building has gone through extensive renovations, so much that you would not recognize it if you dined at Avanzare previously.  The outside has been painted black and they added a large Southern Social sign in white on the front of the building.  Since I never had an opportunity to dine at Avanzare, I don’t know what the interior looked like, but it does appear that it got a complete makeover.  The interior design is what I like to call “gastro pub’ style, with the black ceilings, exposed air ducts, stained concrete floors, wood and metal chairs, rustic light fixtures with Edison bulbs, and reclaimed pallet wood on the walls with a large Southern Social. sign hung on it.  They have one wall with a leather booth and a communal high top table in the middle of the main dining room.

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Now on to my favorite part of the evening!  Let’s take a look and see what I had to eat and drink!

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Perfect Pear Margarita (Left) – ($10.00) – My wife joined me and this was the drink that she ordered.  It’s made with Partida Blanco tequila, Thacher’s Prickly Pear Liqueur, lime juice, and agave nectar, served over ice.  It was a little bit tart from the Thacher’s pear liqueur, yet you could still taste the generous pour of the tequila.  The black you see on the glass is a black salt to complete the margarita presentation.

How Tea Shuld Bee (Right) – ($10.00) – When we got the two drinks, we were confused, since the name of mine had “tea” in it, and the taller glass actually looked like it had tea in the bottom of it.  The smaller glass actually looked like something a margarita would be served in.  It contains Milk Washed Tea Vodka, honey syrup, lemon, and salt. It must have had a fair amount of lemon in it because it was very tart.  The honey syrup did help to sweeten it a little bit.  I tend to like my drinks sweeter, so needless to say this was not my “cup of tea” so to speak, but if you like tart drinks, you’ll love this one.

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Deviled Eggs – ($9.00) – Made the traditional way, but kicked up a notch by adding candied bacon and chives, it gave them a slightly sweet and smoky flavor from the candied bacon, and the chives gave it a subtle onion flavor. I don’t make these that often outside of the holidays, but I should considering how good they are.  I’m also stealing their idea and adding bacon to my recipe since they were so good with it.

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Fried Green Tomato BLT – ($14.00) – Up next is a twist on a classic dish.  It’s made with green tomatoes that have been battered and fried, then topped with pimento cheese sauce, next is a slice of roasted pork belly, and finally topped with fried greens as a garnish.  The tomatoes were nice and crispy, but I thought were a little bit under seasoned.  The saltiness of the pork belly did make up for what the tomatoes were lacking in seasoning.

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Southern Ramen – ($17.00) – I’m embarrassed to admit that as a foodie, this was my first ever bowl of ramen.  If they are all as good as this one was, then I have definitely been missing out.  It’s made with braised pork, a soft cooked egg, mushrooms, cilantro, a spicy chili sauce., and topped off with green onions as a garnish.  With a name like Southern Social the pork had better be spectacular, right?  In this case, it was!  The pork was moist, tender, and very flavorful.  The ramen noodles were plentiful, and seemed to be bathing in a wonderful pork broth.  Hands down, my favorite dish of the night and the one I am going to order next time I eat here.

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Pork Tenderloin – ($18.00) – Once again they prove why the name Swine is first on the sign, because they have made another excellent pork dish.  It’s cooked via the Sous Vide method, then grilled.  Served over brussel sprout leaves, a sweet corn succotash, and finished with a bourbon molasses reduction sauce.  The pork was fork tender and out of this world good.  The brussel sprout leaves were perfectly cooked, and the sweet corn succotash was excellent.  The bourbon molasses sauce was sticky and sweet, and paired well with the pork.

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Mousse ($7.00) – I did not see the dessert offerings on the menu, so we asked our waitress what our options were.  When she said “Chocolate and Peanut Butter” she had my attention, and I said I’ll have one of those!  Served in a small glass jar, was this smooth and creamy peanut butter mousse that had chocolate chips in it, topped with a round of chocolate, then topped with whipped cream and mint leaves.  For those that love chocolate and peanut butter, this dessert is hard to beat!

In Conclusion:

Southern Social is definitely filling a void in the Vero restaurant scene that is unlike any other that I am aware of.  With the semi-industrial, yet comfortable atmosphere, their unconventional dishes and drinks, I think they definitely have the winning formula to bring people back time and time again. “Creative Food with Southern Charm” is what Southern Social is all about and they certainly deliver both very well.

Have you tried Southern Social?  What has your experience been with them?  Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts, or feel free to email me at thefoodguy@verovine.com with your questions or comments.

Atmosphere – 5 Forks

Service – 5 Forks

Food – 4 Forks

Ratings Scale Legend:

1 to 5 Forks – 1 Bad to 5 Excellent

Southern Social Website

Southern Social Facebook Page

Southern Social, 1932 14th Ave, Vero Beach, FL 32960, USA

(772) 205-2212

Hours: Open 7 days a week, 4:00pm til 10:00pm, Brunch served Saturday and Sunday, 10:00am til 4:00pm.

The 2016 Jeane Graves Charity Cupcake Challenge

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine

The Heritage Center in downtown Vero Beach this past weekend hosted the 7th Annual Jeane Graves Charity Cupcake Challenge.  Bakers that entered the contest competed in two divisions, professional and individual bakers.  A total of eleven bakers were in the competition this year,  three of which were in the professional division. Cupcakes were judged in four different categories:  Best Decoration, Best Cupcake, Best Frosting, and Best Overall Cupcake.  The bakers were asked to bring a total of 5 dozen cupcakes to the competition.  One dozen cupcakes will be on display to showcase their work, and the others are cut into bite sized pieces for the public that attended to try and vote for their favorites.

Individual Baker Winners:

Best Decoration:  Butter Beer by Allie Havie
Best Cupcake:  Molten Lava Cauldron Cakes by Joseph & Owen Polackwich
Best Frosting: Tie – Bananas Over You by Amber Skubal & Katy Hall
Molten Lava Cauldron Cakes by Joseph & Owen Polackwich
Best Overall Cupcake: Butter Beer by Allie Havey

Professional Baker Winners:
Best Decoration:  Peachy Keen by Andi Brown – The Yellow Rose Cakery
Best Cupcake:  Peachy Keen by Andi Brown – The Yellow Rose Cakery
Best Frosting:  Raspberry Filled Lemon Poppy Seed by Roxane Gibbons of R Cakes
Best Overall Cupcake:  Peachy Keen by Andi Brown – The Yellow Rose Cakery

Congratulations to all the winners!

More about the charity:

The Michael J. Fox Foundation is dedicated to finding a cure for Parkinson’s disease through an aggressively funded research agenda and the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson’s.  The Cupcake Challenge event is put on by the family and friends of Jeane Graves who had Parkinson’s disease.  After a teaching career, she enrolled in the Indian River State College Culinary Program, became a chef and owned her own restaurant Hibiscus Coffee and Tea.  Team Fox members raise funds for the foundation through local fundraisers and participating in sporting events.  For more information on Team Fox, visit TeamFox.org.

Contact Janie Graves Hoover at 772 473 3410 or janietv@yahoo.com for more information.

R Cakes – Business Review

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine

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Do you ever wonder how cake became synonymous with celebrations such as birthdays and weddings?  One of the first birthday cakes was actually made in Germany in the middle ages.  They would celebrate their child’s birthday with cake, and called the party’s Kinderfest’s.  At first, the cakes were not very sweet and had a bread like texture, but later became sweeter and were called Geburtstagorton.  During the 17th century, cakes were made more elaborate with icing, multiple layers, and edible flowers.  These types of cakes were only affordable by the upper class due to the higher priced ingredients and the time it took to make them.  In the 18th century, kitchen gadgets became more accessible and affordable, and thus the price of cakes went down, and the number of cakes produced went up significantly.

To this day, cakes are still in high demand and customers have even higher standards for the designs they want. The baker not only has to know how to just bake a cake, but they also have to be an artist as well.  Roxane Gibbons is one such local cake artist that just opened for business here in Vero Beach.  She has been baking cakes for her friends and family for several years now, and just recently opened her home-based bakery in April 2016. I had an opportunity to sit down with her recently and taste some of her work.

Let’s dive right in and take a look at what she made for me try!

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Cake Pops – ($20.00 per dozen) – Up first for me to try were these tasty looking cake pops!  They were made with a chocolate cake that had been shredded, mixed with a peanut butter ganache, and rolled into a ping pong size ball.  From there, they are swirled in white chocolate, dipped in gold sugar, and a small flower added to complete the garnish.  The chocolate cake inside the pop was kept moist with the addition of the peanut butter ganache and the slightly thicker layer of white chocolate on the outside.  I only wish the peanut butter flavor was a little more prevalent, since I am a huge fan of this flavor combination, otherwise they were still fantastic!

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6″  Round Layered Spice Cake with Cinnamon Butter Cream Icing – ($45.00) – Roxane had contacted me before the review to find out what my favorite type of cake was, so I told her that it is a spice cake.  As I sat down at the table for the tasting, there were lots of wonderful sweet smells, but this one definitely stuck out with the aroma of cinnamon and spice.  If the icing on the side of the cake looks incomplete to you, then you are not up on the latest cake trends.  This style is called a “half naked” cake and it is the hip and trendy thing to do right now for weddings and other occasions.  The cake itself was very moist and had the perfect mix of spices.  The icing was just the perfect amount, and not too sweet.  I especially like the presentation on the wooden board and the twigs on top.  It was absolutely delicious!

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Mini Lemon Poppy Seed Bundt Cake with Raspberry Sauce and a Mascarpone Whipped Cream – ($5.00 each, one dozen minimum) – First off, I have to say this was my absolute favorite of all the cakes I got to try.  It was very moist, the lemon flavor was wonderful, and the raspberry sauce was lightly sweetened, yet still had a nice tartness to it.  The mascarpone whipped cream had a slightly firmer texture than just regular whipped cream, and It was very smooth and creamy. This is definitely going to be a customer favorite!

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Butter Pound Cake with Chocolate Ganache Icing and Chocolate Fondant Roses – ($5.00 each, one dozen minimum) – I was worried this one might be a little bit dry with the cake layers being exposed and not covered by the icing, but my concerns were laid to rest as I took my first bite.  The cake was a little denser and had a firmer texture than the rest of them, but that was expected due to the type of cake it was.  The layers were filled with a chocolate ganache icing that is a mix of bittersweet and semi-sweet dark chocolate.  This dessert is an excellent choice for any chocolate lover!

In Conclusion:

Cakes have become so much more than just a simple choice of “white or chocolate”. They are a representation of our lives and what is important to us.  Cake artists like Roxane help make our ideas come to life by creating the custom cakes, cupcakes, or cookies of our dreams.   With everything made from scratch, gluten-free options, and basically anything you can dream up, R Cakes definitely has you covered.

Roxane also helps make “dream” cakes for less fortunate children through a charity called Icing Smiles.  She donates her time every month and helps create cakes for critically ill children for this very worthy cause.  For more information about this charity, click HERE for a link to their Facebook page.

Click HERE to go to R Cakes Facebook page so you can see some of her other work!

For custom quotes and to place your orders, please contact Roxane via her Facebook page or by telephone at:  (772) 538-1674

Chow Cab – Restaurant Delivery Service Review

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine

Ever have one of those days, where dad is running late from work, the kids are screaming that they are hungry, and mom is too tired to cook something for dinner?  Grabbing fast food or going out to a nice sit-down dinner seems like your only option, but you always have a problem choosing where to go to make everyone happy?  These are common problems we all face from time to time.  Heck, even “The Food Guy” and his wife don’t always want to go out and struggle with the decision on where to go most of the time.  Let me introduce you to a brand new service that hopes to help you solve these problems.  Chow Cab is a restaurant delivery service that takes your order and delivers food to your door within about 60 minutes.  Sounds too good to be true, right?  Let’s jump in and see what this service has to offer.

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To get started, open your internet browser and go to chowcab.com or download the mobile app on your phone.  The page above is their homepage and the main screen for the mobile app.  They do offer service in 4 different locations on the Treasure Coast, so click on the one that is closest to your home.  I live in Vero Beach, so I chose the last option.

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A new tab opened and took me to the Vero Beach site.  You can also jump right to this site by going directly to it at chowcabvero.com.  From this page, you have some information about new restaurants that have been added to the service recently, and an estimated delivery time your food would arrive if you ordered right now.  Click on the Restaurants link at the top of the page to see what restaurants are available to order from.

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The restaurant icons that are in color are available to order from now, the ones that are grayed out, are not currently available for orders.  You can still click on them to view their menu and view their hours of operation.  We decided to order from Fishack.

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This screen (scroll down to see all) shows you all of the menu items that are available for order from Fishack.  Docked to the left side of the screen are all of the other restaurants that you can click on to navigate quickly to the other menus.  One of the great things about Chow Cab, you can order from multiple restaurants, only paying a separate delivery fee for each one chosen.

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Once you decide what you want to eat, click on the menu item and a pop-up comes up and allows you to specify any special requests about your item, then adds it to your cart once you click on the done button.  A small window will display in the upper right-hand side with the items you have chosen.  As you scroll up, it will dock itself out of the way so you can still view the menu.  Keep adding items until your order is done, or click on another restaurant on the left-hand side of the screen if you wish to add any items from another restaurant, then proceed to checkout by clicking the checkout button.

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Click on the new customer tab (or login if you are a returning customer) and enter your email address and a password to use for future orders.  Follow the prompts to enter your delivery address and credit card information and complete your order.  You will then be given an estimated time of delivery of your order.  If you prefer, you can always call them to place your order and just use the website menus for reference.

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We placed our order at 5:51pm and it showed up at our door by 6:24pm.  Cheyenne was our delivery driver and she was prompt and courteous.  Now I know you are asking, how fresh is the food and is it hot when I get it?  As soon as the food arrived we set it up on a table and immediately took its temperature via a non-contact IR laser thermometer to see how hot they actually were.

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First up is the Baked Trio Piccata.  As you can see above from the picture the temperature of the dish shortly after it arrived was still 132 degrees.  The food was freshly made and tasted great!

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Next dish we ordered was the Fish and Chips and was still very hot when received.  The other dish was baked and this one fried, so I believe that is the reason why this one was hotter than the other.  The fish was still crispy, but the fries had softened a little bit from being in the closed container.

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We ordered key lime pie for dessert and it was a little bit warmer than it should be.  It was in its own styrofoam container and wrapped in a  plastic bag, but it was put into the insulated bag with the rest of the hot food, which caused the higher temperature.  We immediately put it in the fridge while we ate our food so it could cool down.  The pie was still ok when we had it about an hour later, but it should have been kept in a cooler rather than the insulated bag with the hot food items.

In Conclusion:

We have ordered twice now from Chow Cab and both times we had a great experience.  The food was freshly made and still hot when received.  This time, delivery took a little over 30 minutes, and my previous time was about 40 minutes, so they are very quick.  I think delivery times would also vary as to how busy they are and if you order during peak ordering times.  The only issues that we ran into with the service was the temperature of the dessert and not being able to use the full amount of the gift card we had.  Our order total exceeded the amount of the gift card and we were unable to apply a second payment method to pay the rest of our total.  I talked to Jordan the owner about this and he said they are in the process of fixing this and it should be taken care of by the time this article is published.

Have you tried Chow Cab?  What has your experience been with them?  Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts, or feel free to email me at thefoodguy@verovine.com with your questions or comments.

Use Coupon Code: VEROVINE for Free delivery.

Website Links: Chow Cab Main Website  |  Chow Cab Vero  |  Chow Cab Stuart  |  Chow Cab Jupiter  |  Chow Cab Port Saint Lucie

Give Them A Call!

  • Jupiter, Tequesta, Palm Beach Gardens and Juno Beach – (561) 744-3222 
  • Stuart, Palm City, Hobe Sound, Jensen Beach, Port St. Lucie, Downtown Ft. Pierce, and Ft. Pierce Island (South Beach) – (772) 692-3287 
  • Vero Beach – (772) 234-3222

Carmine & Lucia’s Fine Olive Oils and Balsamics – Business Review

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero Vine

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As a chef, I always look for the best quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar to cook with that I can find.  We have all read the stories going around on Facebook that the grocery store varieties of olive oils are cut with cheaper oils so the manufacturers can make huge profits from them.  At Carmine & Lucia’s you won’t find anything but the purest ultra premium olive oils and balsamic vinegar.  In fact, they are certified by the most credentialed olive oil lab and voted #1 by the American Oil Chemists’ Society (AOCS), as the most prestigious oil society in the world for accuracy and proficiency.  With over 50 varieties of olive oils and vinegar to choose from, let’s dive right in and see what this place has to offer!

I happened to drive past on 14th Ave and noticed this new place a few months ago, so I definitely had to stop by and check it out.  As I entered the cozy little shop I was met with a warm welcome from owner Dana DelPriore and invited to look around and to taste as many samples as I would like.  The company from which she purchases her olive oils from will only work with a mill that processes the olives within 3 hours of picking, and are only crushed every 6 months from opposite hemispheres.  She receives the oils when they are just 3 months old, and you would be hard pressed to find anything fresher than that.  All of her vinegars are imported from Modena, Italy which is known to be the birthplace of balsamics.  The vinegars have been aged for many years in barrels made from oak, chestnut, cherry, and ash to make sure they have optimal density and robust flavors.  In order to keep the oils and vinegar fresh between her deliveries, Dana uses containers called “fusti’s”.  They are the shiny silver cans that you see lining the walls when you walk into her shop.

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For special events on 14th Ave or private tasting parties in her store, Dana usually makes some appetizers with her products to give you examples of what you can use them for.  Let’s dive right in and see what she made for me to try.

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Up first for me to taste was this wonderful Caprese Salad with sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and hand torn basil.  Dana chose the Tuscan Herb olive oil and the limited edition 25 year aged Dennissimo balsamic vinegar as the dressing.  The flavor combination was bold, yet somewhat sweet from the balsamic.  It had an impressive depth of flavor with notes of cherry, dried fruits, figs, and subtle hints of chocolate.  This is a very popular balsamic and is selling out fast, so make sure you stop by and pick some up before she runs out.

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Next Dana prepared a Truffle Oil rigatoni pasta with parmesan cheese for me to taste.  I’ve had the grocery store variety of truffle oils before, but none of them had as bold of a truffle flavor as this one did.  Truffle can be an acquired taste for some, but I really like it. This was really good!

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Dana had to take a leave of absence from her job as a cardiac nurse in NY to come and take care of her dying father in Vero Beach.  A few days before his passing she said she had an epiphany that Vero was where she was supposed to be.  Her aunt and uncle who have already been running a very successful olive oil and balsamic store in Pennsylvania suggested that she open her own store in Vero, and thus Carmine and Lucia’s was born.  So where did the name and the image on her bottles come from?  Dana drew inspiration from her grandparents for the name of the store and the image on the bottle.  Pictured above on the bottle are her grandparents on their wedding day.

In Conclusion:

The popularity for ultra pure high-quality gourmet olive oils has been growing exponentially over the past few years and Dana is definitely filling that need in Vero Beach.  Everything that I tasted was beyond fresh and extremely flavorful.  With the variety that she provides, the possibilities for different flavor combinations is almost endless.  If you have only ever used the grocery store varieties, then you need to stop in and try some of these premium products and see what a difference quality over quantity makes.

Dana’s shop has been open for a little over a year at the time of this writing and she is hosting an open house on Saturday, September 24th 2016 from 12:00pm till 3:00pm.  There will be food, drinks, music, raffles for products, and discounts on shopping all day!  This is one event you don’t want to miss!

Carmine & Lucia’s Website

Address: 1916 14th Ave, Vero Beach, FL 32960

Hours:

Wednesday 10AM–5PM
Thursday 10AM–5PM
Friday 10AM–5PM
Saturday 10AM–4PM
Sunday Closed
Monday Closed
Tuesday 10AM–5PM

Vero Vine Top Nine Best Cheeseburgers

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The Vero Vine Top Nine is in no particular order. The locations are picked by community members based on a calculation derived from the profile popularity, survey data and listing rating and then randomized.

Make your order delivery Free at Chow Cab with the Vero Vine coupon code.


696802288bistro-fourchette-web-only14333844_1433559433328189_2317652334029164501_nBistro Fourchette – (772) 770-2071

Awesome little french bistro downtown Vero Beach! Build your own burgers every Wednesday nights!

1309 19th Pl, Vero Beach, FL 32960

View Food Review | View Food Plates

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Use Chow Cab Free Delivery Code: Vero Vine


1621943_757066397695026_5161264866165248965_n14344863_1433559539994845_559536764200081859_nThe Patio Seafood Tavern – (772) 774-8232

The Patio won the Burgers and Brews cookoff earlier this year for having the best burger! This tastes DIVINE!

1103 21st St, Vero Beach, FL 32960

View Food Review | View Food Plates

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Use Chow Cab Free Delivery Code: Vero Vine


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Bobby’s – (772) 231-6996

Cool beachside restaurant with some of the best burgers in Vero!

3450 Ocean Dr, Vero Beach, FL 32963

View Food Review | View Food Plates


5174871631544446_1134635276562247_3266935728335442241_n14369930_1433559436661522_730401622566087391_nBuggy Bistro

This burger looks awesome!!! Lip smacking – Jaw dropping Florida scratch cooking.

A food truck at a special event near you.

View Food Plates


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Casey’s Place

#5 out of 227 restaurants in Vero Beach on Trip Advisor!!!

917 Azalea Ln, Vero Beach, FL 32963

View Food Plates


22131839412339124_1524619181197671_8286390763191120207_o14362661_1433559496661516_8093265990180012509_oGrumpy’s Burgers & Beers – (772) 217-3734

The Hangover Burger with a beer cheese sauce over a fried egg! This was my favorite during my review!

1327 21st St, Vero Beach, FL 32960

View Food Review | View Food Plates

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Use Chow Cab Free Delivery Code: Vero Vine


hurricanelogowhitehr14352198_1433559493328183_9187122092607135777_oHurricanes Grill & Wings – (772) 562-2226

While they might have Wings in their name, they are much more than that! They have great appetizers, wings, entree salads, tacos, and of course some really great burgers too!

Indian River Plaza, 1555 US-1, Vero Beach, FL 32963

View Food Review | View Food Plates

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Use Chow Cab Free Delivery Code: Vero Vine


planet-yum-vero-beach14352140_1433559536661512_2215378460472377696_oPlanet Yum – (772) 202-2393

Looking for a vegan option in Vero, well then you have found it! I had this during my review of Planet Yum and did not know there was not any meat in it, it tasted that good!

2121 14th Ave, Vero Beach, FL 32960

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Osceola BistroOsceola Bistro14358901_1433559519994847_1484692615898044734_n – (772) 569-1299

The menu represents an array of flavors and influences from around the world showcasing Chef Bireley’s culinary travels. Chef Bireley strives to purchase as many fresh ingredients from local farmers and fisherman as possible.

2045 13th Ave, Vero Beach, FL

View Food Plates

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Use Chow Cab Free Delivery Code: Vero Vine

Hurricane Grill & Wings – Restaurant Review

by Thomas Miller – Food Blogger / Restaurant Critic for Vero VineHurricaneLogoWhiteHR

My next tasting experience takes me to Hurricane Grill & Wings just off of US Hwy 1 in Vero Beach.  While they might be a little bit hidden back in the corner with all of the construction going on out front, they are still there and pumping out some really great food.  I’m a huge fan of chicken wings, and they have some of the best that I have found in town.  During my visit, I was hoping to get a sampling of some of their other offerings to see how they stack up beyond just the wings and burgers we are most familiar with.

Parking is still in the same area, and you still use the same sidewalk to make your way to the front entrance.  The sidewalk is lined with a chain link fence that has a black cloth lining to hide the construction going on in front.  I was concerned with there being excess dirt or debris in the area, but that was not the case.  It seemed perfectly clean, and their outdoor dining area was still open as well.  We arrived on a Tuesday evening and the restaurant was quite full, we were directed to take a seat anywhere we would like.  Shortly after sitting down we were greeted by our waitress to take our drink orders.

Let’s jump right in and see what I had to eat and drink!

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Beer Flight Sample – I was curious to try a few of their biggest sellers that they offer on tap, so I asked if I could just have a small sampling of a few of them.  The waitress brought out 3 samples to try.  From left to right they are:  Angry Orchard Hard Cider, Shock Top, and a Blueberry Lager.  The Angry Orchard was my favorite of the 3.  It had the brightest and fruitiest flavor of all of them.  Shock Top is normally served with an orange slice, but since the sample was small, they did not provide one.  It was very light and had absolutely no aftertaste.  The Blueberry Lager was a little bit heavier and had a subtle blueberry flavor.

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Wood Smoked Mahi Dip – ($9.49) – The first appetizer we were presented with was the smoked fish dip.  It’s definitely a colorful dish, with lots of options.  Everything was extremely fresh and quite tasty.  They also include a cup of their Gold Rush wing sauce for those that want an added kick.

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Jumbo Wings Snack Size – ($6.49) – Up next is the reason that brings me into Hurricanes, and it’s their jumbo wings.  They were dressed with Gold Rush sauce, served alongside was ranch dressing, carrot, and celery sticks.  The wings were perfectly cooked, tender, and juicy.  They had just the right amount of sauce on them and were fantastic, as always.

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Honey Pecan Grilled Chicken Salad – ($10.99) – I love a huge salad with lots of ingredients, so I was excited to see this offering when it was brought to the table. Grilled chicken breast, honey roasted pecans, bleu cheese crumbles, tomatoes, and dried cranberries were piled high on a bed of fresh mixed greens.   It was served with a honey lime dressing.  The dressing was light, but definitely had a bold flavor.  The addition of the candied honey pecans added a nice crunch to the salad.  It was simply delicious!

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Mahi Tacos – ($11.99) – Cajun seasoned Mahi fish fillets are grilled, then topped with cheddar jack cheese, diced tomatoes and shredded lettuce.  The flour tortilla was soft and fresh, but the Mahi was a bit under seasoned for my taste.  Even with the addition of the Gold Rush sauce that came with the dish, I still didn’t find that punch of flavor I was looking for.  I asked the waitress for a recommendation, and she suggested we try the Firecracker Shrimp sauce on it instead.  She brought is a sample of that sauce and it did the trick.

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Sea Salt Caramel Cheesecake – ($5.99) – A very popular flavor trend lately is salted caramel everything!  This creamy New York Style cheesecake,  sprinkled with crunchy sea salt and topped with a gooey layer of Hershey’s caramel, was absolutely the perfect way to round out our meal.  The crust had a nice graham cracker flavor and a slight crunch to it.  The cheesecake was smooth and creamy, and surprisingly, not too sweet.  The whipped cream on the side was fantastic!  It was super thick and very creamy.

In Conclusion:

If you are not a big fan of wings (who doesn’t like wings?), but your significant other is, Hurricane Grill & Wings still has lots of options to choose from.  Wings, burgers, salads, seafood, tacos, there is definitely something for everyone and don’t forget the cheesecake!

Have you tried Hurricane Grill & Wings?  What has your experience been with them?  Sound off in the comments below and let me know your thoughts, or feel free to email me at thefoodguy@verovine.com with your questions or comments.

Atmosphere – 4 Forks

Service – 5 Forks

Food – 4 Forks

Ratings Scale Legend:

1 to 5 Forks – 1 Bad to 5 Excellent

Hurricane Grill & Wings

Hours:  Open 7 days a week, Open at 11:00am – 10:00pm on Monday – Thursday and Sunday, Friday and Saturday open till 11:00pm


1555 US-1, Vero Beach, FL 32963