Citrus Grillhouse (Vero Beach) - great value on their summer dining menu
Checked out Citrus Grillhouse’s summer dining special recently. Interestingly, the special priced menu offers several items that are also on the regular menu, but at greatly reduced prices. Don’t know if the portions are different, but compared to the a la carte menu prices, the summer menu offers a great value.
We started with endive salad with blue cheese in a creamy Dijon vinaigrette. The endives were sliced crosswise into thin strips and tossed with the cheese, vinaigrette and chopped chives. The salad was piquant, tangy from the vinaigrette, which I’d guess was made with crème fraiche and sherry vinegar. It was definitely mustardy, and I would have preferred a bit less blue cheese, but it was seasoned well and we enjoyed it.
For dinner we had the grilled Amish pork chop, which was served with haricot verts and mashed potatoes. The pork chop was a high quality cut of meat, thicker and way better than what we’re accustomed to getting from the local markets, grilled but very moist—I’m guessing the chop was brined, to good advantage. The beans were undercooked and simple. The mashed potatoes were fresh and well made, no complaints but they were just mashed potatoes.
For the other entrée we chose the grilled skirt steak with parmesan risotto. The skirt steak was ordered medium rare, but served rare. It was delicious, extremely tender, and well flavored from the grill but needed salt. The parmesan risotto was fine, the rice a bit more toothsome than I prefer, but creamy and full of parmesan flavor.
Diners are presented with well-made lemony hummus in a small ramekin and a few slices of baguette once orders have been taken. Four small and thin slices of baguette were presented for two diners, which we quickly demolished—they were only about three inches wide, sliced less than a half inch thick. There is an “upcharge” of $3 for more bread! The hummus was really good – obviously house made with a prominent chickpea flavor, but we resented the additional charge for bread.
The staff were friendly and accommodating, from being greeted at the bottom of the steps by a manager with an umbrella (it was pouring rain) when we pulled up in the car, to being greeted by two hostesses, and prompt attention from the waiter. The restaurant seemed overstaffed—there were way more staff (waiters, managers, expediters, cooks) than patrons, and seemed excessive. It was kind of weird to see them all gathered around the open kitchen like they were having a kaffeeklatsch, waiting for something to do. Granted we were there only until 7:30, but this is summer in Vero Beach.
The food was well prepared, the staff well trained and there were no missteps. But still I have misgivings about this place. No salt on the tables, and we would have liked just a touch of salt for our mains. On previous visits we have felt sneered at for asking for salt, as if it were an insult to the chef. And the steak being undercooked didn’t bother me – I don’t mind rare meat – but my companion would not have been able to eat it rare. We had a similar experience on a previous visit where the food we received was undercooked, intentionally, instead of how it was ordered. The chef’s prerogative in preparing food should not overrule the diner’s preference in eating food!
The regular menu prices are quite high and a la carte, so the summer menu offers a great value at $17.50 (add $2 if you want dessert too). I’d return without hesitation for the special menu, but I’d pass if I had to order from the full price menu.