Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Traditional Lighthouse Grille Has What It Takes to Please Crowd

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Traditional Lighthouse Grille Has What It Takes to Please Crowd

Article excerpt

I was not particularly interested in the Lighthouse Grille, let me say that right up front. It opened a little more than a month ago at Beach Boulevard and the Intracoastal, in one of those cursed buildings that has seen a handful of other restaurants fail.

It's a nice spot, overlooking the water, but the menu just didn't look interesting. It's very traditional salads, sandwiches, chicken, fried seafood, steaks and ribs without any unusual touches, no additional flair.

That's hard to get excited about. But I went and what I learned was this: First, there are plenty of people who want that kind of food. The place is huge, and it was packed. Second, what Lighthouse does, it does very well.

We went last Saturday night. The parking lot was full, and cars were parked a couple hundred yards down the road. I thought it would take forever to get a table, but the hostess said it'd be 20 to 30 minutes. It was right at 30.

There's a strong, sturdy feel to Lighthouse Grille, from the big front doors on in. It's a big place, seating 400, which has to make it one of the largest restaurants in town. It's also a dark and noisy place, with high ceilings and an open kitchen.

The bar is on the left as you walk in, with booths and tables arranged in long lines around the edge of the building. The big windows give a nice view of the Intracoastal Waterway during daylight hours. But we were there at night. It's not as dark at the tables as it seems like it should be. Carefully aimed spotlights in the ceiling make it easy to read the menu and see your food.

The crowd was very mixed, older couples, younger couples, families with young kids. Dress ranged from shorts and T-shirts to a sport coat or two.

The appetizer menu is dull, primarily dishes such as Chicken Wings ($5.95), Chili Cheese Fries ($6.50) and Traditional Nachos ($6.95) Those are fine if you're stopping by for a beer and want a little something to eat.

I'm not sure who wants fried chicken strips or chili cheese fries before a nice meal. But since I saw more than a few huge plates of onion rings going by, somebody obviously does.

Peel & Eat Shrimp ($5.50 for seven, $8.50 for 11) were very large boiled shrimp, still warm, but on a plate of ice and cooling off as we ate them. They were cooked perfectly and were excellent.

Louisiana Seafood Gumbo ($4.95) looked promising, made with a brown roux rather than canned tomatoes, like too many places make it. It wasn't very full, but it had some chopped andouille sausage and a couple of small shrimp. It was bland, though. Very average.

The house salad comes with some meals, but it's $1.95 extra with others. It's a large and very good salad. Iceberg lettuce and chopped tomatoes and almonds, topped with chopped egg and warm ham and served with a honey-buttered croissant. …

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