A restaurant with a great attitude and great food! Pelican Café, Stuart, FL.
As I am always looking for a new first, knowing that I would visiting an area that I’m not super familiar with, I thought the smart thing to do is to call a long time local and ask for a recommendation. My description of what I was looking for was “not a chain; good food at reasonable price, an ‘experience’, near or on the water, and unique if possible”. He immediately said the Pelican Café under the Roosevelt Bridge. I had recently been to the park there to catch a breather in between clients; how could I not recall seeing Pelican Café?
You gotta love those Florida Clouds!
You know it is meant to be when you are out of town, and you get a call from one of your two favorite daughters, who just happened to be calling to say ‘hi’ when I learn she is also in the same town. Of course our twosome just turned into a threesome! Joining us at the “West of Old England” tack store, bouncing in dressed professionally only to within minutes slide on a pair of ‘for sale’ pants under her dress, and kick off the heels so she can try out the saddles, our nudging wasn’t getting her out the door. Tummies growling, we finally get her to depart her beloved leather smelling tack and intriguing horse talk. Horsey girls; what to do with them?
Pelican Café is 100% outdoor seating; dogs and kids are welcome, and big appetites should be a requirement. It is located at the far north end of the park, and if you weren’t looking for it, it is easy to miss. Entering through what I thought seemed to be a very small portal, (I wasn’t sure if we were in the right place) some very friendly welcomes were expressed, and drink orders were taken immediately. Seating was a breeze and in the breeze, complimenting the beautiful water view to be fancied by each foody. Everyone was in quiet, compelling conversation, and in obvious good humor. As my daughter stood to take a picture of Mr. Wonderful and I, the next-door-diner immediately offered to take the shot of all three of us, then stuck around for just a minute of jubilant conversation, impressing me that this is super casual spot frequented by long-term best friends, intellectuals, and those imbibing in the fresh air and friendliness.
It was a hard choice to order; the menu has a varied appeal and they did an awesome job explaining each dish! I am a rueben lover, and since I was seated with two others both ordering the other items that I was considering, I stuck with my decision knowing we would share.
And we did. My daughter ordered the Mediterranean Mahi ($16.95) which was served on a large plate, with a very healthy portion of sauteed Mahi accompanied by Kalamata Olives, artichoke hearts, capers, tomatoes, garlic, and a just enough white wine. The rice pilaf and broccoli were barely touched as she simply was completely satiated after only about half of the Mahi. (And, desert for her is a must). My taste of her choice was delicious. All the accompaniments were nice bite size chunks, and the plate was not overwhelmingly swimming in the wine, which I find too often.
Mr. Wonderful was very pleased with his Coconut Mahi, ($14.95) served with a sweet Thai chili sauce, and his choice of sweet potato fries. Often times, to me, the sweet potato fries are good for the first couple of bites, then after that the mundane mush loses its appeal. However, these were cooked in a manner that offered a dash of zing to the fries and they maintained their crispiness throughout the experience. They were plentiful, beckoning us all to eat off of his plate. The coconut Mahi was perfect; it was so very generous as the plate was presented, I almost got the feeling of a ‘thumping’ challenge of ‘you can not devour all of me’. It was sweet and crispy on the outside, and very flakey and delicately moist on the inside. The chili Thai sauce was outstanding with its spices and just the right amount of sugariness.
My Crunchy Mahi Rueben ($14.95) was as I expected. Delicious. Whoever cooks for the Pelican Café has the market on flavoring. Beyond the very large portion of Mahi on the sandwich, the thousand-island dressing was not the norm. Again, it had a slight zing, with the perfect hint of sweetness, and the rye was grilled perfectly. I could have used a tad more Swiss cheese just because the fish was so plentiful the Swiss was overwhelmed by its flavors. Lots and lots of fries to be shared by all, and half the plate beckoned for a doggy bag.
I am not the sweet tooth kind of gal, but my daughter did not get that DNA passed on. Desert is always a must for her, and the homemade key lime pie was perfect. I even had two bites. She dug in so quickly that I didn’t even get a photo.
If I lived in the area, this would be a local favorite of mine. However, it will be a destination now. Who can resist a leisurely drive along the Indian River admiring the old Florida homes and the scenic water way, ending up at a great casual restaurant with great service, an entertainment schedule that includes a full moon party, and yet friendly, smart, and considerate enough to invite the canine family? Not me!
Their full menu is online, but for a teaser, whether to visit or to get ideas for your next exploration in your kitchen, here are a few of their dishes. http://www.pelicanbeachandcafe.com.
Thank you ‘West of Old England” for the recommendation!