Di Mare- Vero Beach- 5 Stars- Top 5 Florida
"It's like deja vu all over again." --Yogi Berra
I don't know about you loyal reader, but I for one sure miss Anthony Bourdain. Dining at Di Mare in Vero Beach, I couldn't help but think how he would have loved this place and been in foodie heaven as he consumed mass quantities of delicious delicacies from the kitchen of Owner/Head Chef Jean (formerly owner/chef of Dove in Satellite Beach).
Di Mare is a restaurant unlike any other as with two sections on the menu, it offers both French and Italian dishes from hors d'oeuvres to desserts. For this and reasons soon to be addressed, Chef Jean is the second recipient of The Big Boy Dining Out 5-Star Top 5 Florida Award. Di Mare, like Bacco, is a husband and wife operation, however, in this case, the husband, Dr. Chef Jean is in the back and his elegant wife, Edyta takes care of the front of the house. After being lead past an amazingly well-stocked bar, we were seated in the main dining area. Perusing the menu I couldn't help but wipe my mouth a few times as a tiny bit of drool kept escaping. As Chef Jean insists on only the freshest ingredients, the menu does change with the seasons and is based on what is available at that time.
I was anxious to get this expedition into food excellence going and thankfully did not have to wait overly long until our attendant for the evening, Amber, was at our table. Amber is the epitome of what a fine dining server should be, she is professional in appearance, demeanor and menu knowledge all while running as smoothly as Chef Jean's potatoes through a ricer. After a long debate, I finally had my mind made up and requested, Escargot a la Bourguignonne, Veal Forestiere, Dover Sole Almondine and an order of Filet Mignon Au Cognac.
The complimentary Bruschetta, from the Italian side of the menu, consisted of bread baked and grilled in-house and then topped with imported Parmesan and tomatoes so fresh they were literally doing the Tarantella, the dusting of fresh Italian Parmesan resting over the top might have had something to do with their glee. Moving on to the Escargot I was delighted in finding it as advertised on the menu and cooked the traditional French way, not drowning in Italian Dressing ala Gregory's (the horror!). These tender little fellas were oven baked with fresh garlic butter and parsley with some more of that on-site baked and grilled bread along the side. Next on the rotation was the Veal Forestiere. If you have never had French "from the forest" sauce, I highly recommend you make a reservation and get to Di Mare as quickly as possible as Chef Jean completely and totally nailed this sauce. Beginning with the freshest cuts of Prime Veal he can find, in-house veal stock and heavy cream, Chef Jean then adds wild forest mushrooms, reduces it and voila! the best Veal Forestiere to have ever crossed my lips is born.
Returning to the seas for the next entree to sample, I turned my instruments of culinary destruction toward the Dover Sole Almondine. While it would certainly be more cost-effective for Chef Jean to purchase the Pacific version of Sole (face it, most of us wouldn't know), he refuses to compromise in the least and orders imported Sole from Europe. This is important as it is only the Dover variety of Sole that yields such gorgeous filets of a firm, buttery flesh that takes to most sauces. Chef Jean takes this filet of mana from the sea and prepares it directly at your table. The Sole is lightly floured, sauteed in butter and a bit of lemon, sprinkled with toasted slivered almonds, and freshly chopped parsley then set lovingly next to a steaming heap of succulent Jasmine rice and a seasonal vegetable medley. Tearing my attention away from the ambrosia that was the Sole, my eyes hit the Filet Mignon yet to be tasted, it seems my work is never done.
You know you are getting the best of the best as Chef Jean orders the whole tenderloin of Black Angus then cuts and pounds each Filet by hand. The steak is so tender you could cut it with a spoon if so desired. Chef Jean takes the hand cut and pounded 9 oz. Filet of Bovine bliss and grills it to order (however, if you order anything beyond medium rare a Filet turns to Flank Steak somewhere in the world). Chef Jean serves this with a reduced Cognac and heavy cream sauce. This is a slight misnomer as Chef Jean found the Cognac a tad sweet, so it's actually three parts Cognac to one part Grand Marnier. The garlic mashed potatoes that accompanied it are made with oven roasted Garlic, put through a ricer, then whipped with fresh cream. If the whole meal was a home run, then this was the leadoff grand slam in the bottom of the ninth that sealed the pennant.
The Big Boy says, "Top 5 in the state. New #1. You can't miss on any menu selection." #iamthebigboy #bigboydiningout