By Anna-Marie Menhenott
MARTIN COUNTY -- Whether by boat or by land, local residents can navigate their way to one of Stuart's hidden treasures to enjoy beautiful scenery as well as delicious food.
Set on the picturesque St. Lucie River, guests are invited to enjoy tasty appetizers or fresh salads, cool down with a refreshing beverage and enjoy live music, or munch on their award-winning apple-smoked pulled pork sliders.
My dining companion and I arrived to what we consider one the most gorgeous scenes on the Treasure Coast. With the sun shining on the river, and boats bobbing in the marina, it was clear that great food isn't the only thing that attracts the crowds.
"This is perfection," said Chef Tom Asselin as he looked out toward the river. "Who could complain about coming to work and seeing this every day? Not only is the restaurant amazing, the scenery is gorgeous. We have one of the best locations to watch a sunset along the river."
We were offered seating in either the outside deck area or inside in the dining room which had large windows where the river views could still be enjoyed. Because the covered deck was almost full to capacity, we chose to dine inside. Where outside's atmosphere was highlighted with a nice breeze and live music, the dining room's nautical motif and wooden ceilings made for an appealing, quiet dining experience.
We began our meal with the award winning smoked-apple pulled pork sliders. The basket of three arrived quickly and the aroma soon filled the air. The pork was tender and the apple chunks, mixed with flavorful barbeque sauce added a delightful pop to the sandwich. It was easy to understand why the sliders were awarded "Best Appetizer" at this year's "Taste of Martin."
"The sliders won the competition and brought a lot of attention to our restaurant," Mr. Asselin said. "Locals know about this spot, but it can't be seen from the main road, so we wanted to let everyone know that if they look for us, they won't be disappointed."
And that we weren't.
The chef brought out a cup of steaming seafood chowder and a plate of fresh fish dip with fresh celery, carrots and crackers. The soup was creamy and full of potatoes, shrimp, clams, fish and scallops and topped with grated parmesan cheese. Next time I'll remember to make a meal of the soup. It was just that good.
Our waiter recommended the fresh Florida Mahi tacos with French fries and fresh coleslaw. My companion decided to try The Deck's special cheeseburger with fried okra. The burger is made with 100 percent Angus beef and grilled to absolute perfection. The crispy okra was fried in seasoned, light flour and was served with a spicy ranch sauce that complimented it flawlessly.
The Mahi tacos were served with lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and a side of salsa. The blackened fish had just enough heat to it with the salsa adding an extra kick.
The Deck also serves desserts, but on this occasion, we were too full to try any of them. We'll make sure to leave room next time.
Not only does the Deck offer access from the river or the road, it also has an 80-slot marina and is part of The Harbor Inn and Marina, which can accommodate guests who are in town on business or vacation.
The Deck Restaurant opens at 11:30 a.m. daily and is located at 307 N.W. North River Drive in Stuart. They have specials, happy hour from 4-7 p.m. and live music every day. For more information, call (772) 692-1203.