By J.M. Copeland
For Hometown News
The first clue that Hidden Treasure Tiki Bar & Grill on Rose Bay is going to live up to its name is during the walk from the parking lot to the dining area.
Diners can feel the stress of the day fade away as they walk a shaded path catching glimpses of the blue water of Rose Bay.
Nestled on the northeast side of the bridge that spans Rose Bay, many motorists may pass by wondering what the building is, that was the case for owner Scott Weber.
"For 25 years, I drove past this building and for 22 of the 25 I didn't know what it was, I thought it was a fish shack on the water," Mr. Weber said. "Then someone asked us to come and look at it."
But after walking down the gentle sloped entrance toward the water, he discovered it is indeed a hidden treasure.
Scott and Danielle Weber decided to reopen the restaurant, which had been vacant for many years following the 2004 hurricane season, using some of the décor, but mostly adding a nautical theme.
The original restaurant had an eclectic atmosphere with many antiques but no real theme. Danielle and Scott have incorporated some of those items, like the wood-burning stove, the rows of outboard motors hung from the roof rafters and the license plates from everywhere imaginable with their own mystery, all of the plates are 000s sequenced.
"I don't have a clue about them," Mr. Weber laughed.
What he does know is how to serve fresh food to please a variety of culinary desires.
We decided to begin with appetizers, fried green tomatoes and smoked fish dip with chips made at the restaurant. These are so good I asked if they were available for purchase to take home. They aren't, which was my first reason to want to dine here again.
I asked Barbara, our waitress, what she would recommend on the menu and she selected one item and then another and another and it was soon obvious making a decision as to what to eat wasn't going to be easy.
I decided on the local shrimp dinner with sweet potato tater tots and cinnamon dipping sauce (an entire meal could have been made out of this), and fresh vegetables. My husband chose the crab stuffed flounder with mixed greens salad and HT's loaded baked potato.
Barbara returned offering us the opportunity to change our orders if we wanted to try the special of the day, Lobster Ravioli. I wavered for a moment, but as intriguing as that sounded I stuck with the shrimp and was glad I did. Hubby said he felt the same way about his entree selection.
The menu includes everything from burgers (including veggie) to sandwiches, and wraps to full meals, and of course, seafood. Most of the seafood served is local.
"Whatever our fresh catch is we can't get enough," Mr. Weber said. "We order 30-40 pounds of grouper and it's gone in a day, so we order more."
Seating at the restaurant also isn't typical. You can sit on a stool and face Rose Bay, a booth with a private TV, perfect for football season, the indoor bar, the patio atmosphere of the tiki bar, tables sheltered by umbrellas on the deck or the enclosed dining area.
The Webers estimated that 70 percent of their diners are local, coming not only for a meal but to participate in the biannual Cardboard Boat Regattas.
"We had 18 entries and 1,400 viewers at the last one," Mr. Weber said. "Many of the boats do stay afloat but the crowd comes to see the boats sink. The next one is going to be the Saturday before Halloween."
The restaurant also has live entertainment nightly and there are plans to expand to include a dance floor away from the dining area.
Desserts are made on site and were tempting. We were encouraged to try the Key lime pie, but we would have had to rent one of the restaurant's hydro bikes (bikes on pontoons) or kayaks to burn off some of our dinner.
That's OK. Just another reason we will have to return.
Hidden Treasure on Rose Bay, 5993 S. Ridgewood Ave., Port Orange, (386) 756-9565, hiddentreasureonrosebay.com.