By Brittany Llorente
JENSEN BEACH -- The famous Dolphin Bar & Shrimp House is under new management, but the same great taste and historic feel live on.
The history of the Dolphin Bar goes back to the early 1960s, when Francis Langford, an actress and celebrity, opened Outrigger Restaurant and Resort.
When Fred Ayres, the owner of Conchy Joe's Restaurant, visited the place while still under Ms. Langford's ownership, he fell in love with the place.
When the place closed down, Mr. Ayers purchased it in the 1990s, fixed up the place, sanded down the painted mahogany and restored the genuine look that Ms. Langford had made.
"My father had a soft spot for Ms. Langford. He was in the Navy in World War II and was able to see her in the USO tours," said Fritz Ayers, the son and current owner and manager of Conchy Joes. "It was a Polynesian themed restaurant. It was a two year restoration and a major undertaking."
The restaurant opened in June of 2000, using a lot of the memorabilia that made the place a nostalgic memory for those who visited then and now.
Brad Latif has been the Chef at Conchy Joe's for the past year and a half and was entrusted by Fritz Ayers to breathe new life into the restaurant.
Mr. Latif has made the happiness of people his motivation in the business.
"I love seeing people's smiling faces," he said. "I like making sure everyone is happy. I make sure the food is perfect before it goes out of the kitchen."
Taking the wheel, so to say, of the restaurant and the 65 member staff, he is ready to continue the tradition of excellence as well as its high quality foods.
"All of the fish is fresh, we don't use anything that is previously frozen," Mr. Latif said. "The amount of fish we order is small so that we don't let it sit on hand for more than 24 hours."
While owned by the same family, the difference between the two restaurants is their atmosphere.
As Fritz Ayers would say, Conchy Joe's is a place to really unwind, listen to music and 'get Conchy.' Mr. Latif agrees, saying that Dolphin Bar is the place to talk with friends and enjoy an assorted menu.
Diners will find some menu items that are only found at Dolphin Bar, including Fred's Incredible Meat Loaf.
"I was the Guinea Pig for that while he was perfecting the meat loaf," Fritz Ayers said fondly. "I can't tell you exactly how it was made but it got to be pretty darn good. When it says 'Incredible', it's incredible."
As I enjoyed the water side table, the fresh breeze blowing through the deck, I was immediately amazed at the place.
I sipped my sweet tea, enjoyed the low sounds of the ocean water and birds as I looked over the freshly printed menu.
The menu featured the freshly caught fish, the weekly specials and the favorites that were mainstays for the restaurant.
I started my meal with the Lobster Bisque soup, served with a side of Sherry.
The soup was creamy with perfectly shaved bits of lobster swimming in the blend of cheeses.
Fortunately, I had so much lined up ahead of me.
I was then given a tour of the salad bar by my companion, who did nothing but rant and rave over it, and I was not disappointed by my expectations.
Everything on the salad bar was fresh as could possibly be.
The salad was nice and crisp. Each topping including bacon, ham, cheeses, sunflower seeds, carrots, radishes, onions, garbanzo beans and many others were a wonderful addition to the greens.
Each of the salad dressings are made in house, dressings from ranch, bleu cheese and Fritz Ayers' favorite, Thousand Island.
The appetizer was the delectable mozzarella shrimp.
The medium shrimp were baked with spinach and topped in mozzarella and a fresh garlic scampi sauce. It was the perfect start to the meal without being too heavy.
My companion ordered the Dolphin a la Dolphin as her entrée.
The entrée was a generous portion of dolphin filet, dipped in parmesan cheese egg wash, sautéed, giving it a nice crust and then topped with a lemon butter caper sauce.
Our entrées were served with a bread basket; the rolls were tasty with a dab of butter.
I ordered the Shrimp Spin and Arty. The large amount of shrimp was served on a bed of spinach, artichokes and orzo.
Everything was drizzled with a Hollandaise sauce that brought each flavor together.
The artichoke was cooked to a perfect tenderness, each bite was better than the last.
As the executive chef came out to inquire over our meals, he suggested the house made crème brulee for dessert.
The creaminess of the dessert was scorched perfectly on top. I was surprised most by the fresh whipped cream and strawberries served with it.
The combination was delightful and a blissful end to the meal.
On Sunday's, the Dolphin Bars has a Bloody Mary bar, where diners are able to make their own Bloody Mary's.
The Dolphin Bar is open Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch, 4- 10 p.m. for dinner, with early bird specials from 4- 5:30 p.m. and happy hour from 3-7 p.m. and 9-11 p.m. They are open Sunday's from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for brunch.
For more information on Dolphin Bar & Shrimp House, visit www.dolphinbarshrimphouse.com.