By Samantha Joseph
MARTIN COUNTY - Diners exiting Pirate's Cove Resort and Marina can thank Executive Chef Richard O'Keefe for a great experience.
"Wonderful meal, wonderful server," said one female diner.
And she's right. The Port Salerno restaurant is one of those places that gets better every time.
It has just the right mix of great food, three bars and live entertainment, all on a beautiful waterfront setting that offers views of the St. Lucie River.
Its latest addition is a cheerful and colorful tiki bar that has proven to be a popular spot, featuring a full menu with seafood specialties and a welcoming come-as-you-are atmosphere.
Cool breezes, sandy terrain, teak-wood furniture, beach-themed décor and live music give the illusion of a seaside getaway that has boosted the bar's success.
"The tiki bar has been great," Mr. O'Keefe said. "We're thrilled it's done as well as it has."
The tiki bar is the third on the property. Its lounge already had regular parties with live music Thursday through Saturday night, and the deck bar served patrons at lunch and dinner.
At Pirate's Cove, the food is fresh and delicious, and the amenities make diners want to stay after the meal.
A pretty pavers pavilion has been attracting weekend parties, weddings, corporate events, fishing tournaments and social functions, including a recent crawfish boil.
"We just keep getting more and more class reunions here," Mr. O'Keefe said. "The hotel is here, the bar is here, everything is right on site."
The restaurant is part of a 50-room hotel with a deluxe two-bedroom, standalone cottage.
And on weekends, it opens its pool to the public, making Pirate's Cove a fun escape close to home.
Details are important at the resort, and in the main dining room, guests eat with beautiful linen napkins with colorful floral prints.
The menu is a mix of seafood specialties, pastas, steaks, ribs, sandwiches, soups and salads.
It offers variety and reflects a carefully designed range of choices.
One of the "pirate's favorites" is a roast pork dip sandwich with onion jus and Swiss cheese, served with French fries. It arrives on a perfectly toasted roll, stuffed with sumptuous, juicy roast pork and delicious, fresh onion jus. The sandwich is filling and the perfect hearty lunch.
The restaurant's grouper dishes are its signature plates, freshly caught and prepared to order.
But its other fish dishes are also stellar. The almond tilapia, for instance, comes with garlic spinach and roasted peppers, and the Japanese crispy Arctic haddock has wok-fried vegetables and sweet red chilies.
The sunset menu remains a favorite, priced at $14. Its entrées include barbecue ribs, grilled Angus meatloaf, broiled salmon, jumbo friend shrimp, shrimp pasta primavera and tender chicken breast served grilled, blackened or fried. It also includes a salad, side dish and dessert.
At dinner, the chef is perhaps at his best and Pirate's Cove has an outstanding selection.
The crab-stuffed shrimp is a favorite, offering jumbo Gulf shrimp stuffed with lump crab meat and topped with a citrus beurre blanc.
The Florida crab cakes are also excellent, lightly seasoned and dusted with buttery cracker crumbs, fried and served with honey mustard sauce.
Pirate's Cove is located at 4307 S.E Bayview St. For more information, call (772) 287-2500.