By Cathy Wharton
For Hometown News
ORMOND BEACH - Long before franchises and other quick-meal restaurants came to our area, there was Julian's - the crème de la crème of fine dining and tempered entertainment. Just about everyone who's lived in the Daytona area long enough has been to Julian's. It was the quintessential restaurant. There were other nice dining spots, but few as charming and elegant as this beachside gem.
Founded in 1967 by well-known restaurateur Julian Lopez, Julian's is now enjoying a rebirth of sorts - a return to the "good old days" when leisurely dining and good music were the rule, rather than the exception. Julian's and its new Beachside Bar & Grill is under new ownership and new management. There is also a new menu: a combination of Julian's traditional fare, plus some contemporary favorites.
The exterior of the restaurant is as distinctive as ever - the tall A-shaped "thatched" roof gives a hint as to the interior décor - Tiki all the way!
The large dining room is three-tiered, allowing its semi-circular design to cascade towards the focal point of the room, an eye-catching panoramic mural depicting a colorful Polynesian scene. The mural also serves as a backdrop for the ample bar and a small stage, where solo musicians can entertain.
The tropical island décor, coupled with soft lighting throughout, gives an immediate sense of warmth and relaxation.
It had been awhile since I had dined at Julian's, so it was time to visit again. I invited a guest to join me. When we arrived, we were pleasantly greeted by Michael, who would be our waiter. After escorting us to a beautifully set table, he offered us menus, then took our drink order. It was Happy Hour, so why not?
We were then greeted by Chris Brinkman. She and her husband have owned the restaurant since March. Ms. Brinkman spoke proudly of the changes they've made, not only the enhanced décor, but also the two banquet rooms. One is for live entertainment and ballroom dancing, the other for parties or special occasions. And of course, there's the menu - homemade soups, bread, dressings and desserts. They still feature the house specialty: Prime Rib, which is slow-cooked in the same convection oven that Julian himself used many years ago. Another item that Julian's is known for is the Black Bean Soup, still made with the original 1967 recipe.
We started with an appetizer of Spinach & Artichoke Dip served in a bowl of homemade bread. Absolutely delicious! When it comes to entrees, Julian's offers a large selection of meat, seafood, pasta and chicken. They also offer a 'Lite Fare' menu that includes Julian's Caesar Salad. My guest chose the 12-ounce portion of the Prime Rib with baked potato and house salad, while I decided to try the Black Bean soup and Caesar Salad with Shrimp. And, of course, we shared.
The food was outstanding.
Everything was nicely presented and prepared to perfection.
Though pleasantly stuffed, we couldn't resist one of Julian's desserts. Michael brought us one of the most elegant-looking dessert dishes I've ever seen, Chocolate Divine Cake atop a generous amount of Zabaglione Sauce. It was sheer chocolate heaven!
All in all, this was an exceptional dining experience.
"We strive for quality," Ms. Brinkman said. The goal of this landmark restaurant is to "bring back good service, be consistent, and have good quality food at a decent price."
And that is what they have done.
Open seven days a week, 4 - 9:30 p.m. Julian's is located at 88 S. Atlantic Ave., in Ormond Beach. Early Bird hours are 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday - Thursday. Happy Hour is every day from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Also, check out their Tiki Bar, open every day 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Dance floor, karaoke Thursday nights, live music Friday and Saturday nights. For more information, call (386) 677-6767.