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Restaurants & Bars

Daytona + Port St. Lucie notes

s.m. koppelman | Feb 3, 200610:36 AM

Went up to Daytona for a weekend and another day trip recently.

Had lunch at Billy's Tap Room in Ormond (thanks, Chuck!) Fantastic place. It's going to be a must next I'm in the area, and probably the time after that and the time after that. We went with lunch specials: the Kentucky Hot Brown and Chicken Delphine. Both were wonderful old-fashioned no-butter-or-cream-left-behind cooking. The entrees were so good we had to try a dessert, which in this case was an exquisite bread pudding, simultaneously toasty and drenched in a whiskey sauce notable for not attacking with alcohol fumes. Super, super, super. We look forward to going for dinner next time we're up there. But what's with the fiber ceiling tiles? Shouldn't a place like that have a pressed tin ceiling?

Julian's, the old supper club across from the beach in Ormond, is one of those old unreviewable warhorses: second-tier, not especially flavorful $20 steaks cooked right, decent rosemary-crusted rack of lamb, and passable, quality fish prepared unexceptionally. Desserts, however, were very good, notably their version of the dry, eggy style of bread pudding, cream puffs with a very subtly sweet filling, and very real, very fluffy chocolate mousse. From what I gathered from the clippings up front, the new owners had a well-reviewed Northern Italian restaurant in Queens for years, and the wife is a pastry chef. That seems to be where the obvious changes have been made and if they can do a similar makeover on the rest of the menu the place could get interesting. As it stands now, though, ehh. The crazy, well-presevred '50s kitsch interior is pretty great, though.

And the Polyneisan-kitsch dinner show at Teaulia's Hawaiian Inn on Daytona Beach? The buffet's inedible, like public-school cafeteria food. The show, though, is a trip. The house band, possibly just because they're hell-bent on blasting through songs quickly because they're sick of playing them, has this strange early New York New Wave feel, like the Feelies and Television, lots of twitchy, strummy rhythm guitar and sputtery drums and percussion. I swear.

In Fort Pierce or maybe Port St. Lucie we stopped at an old Dale's BBQ location on the basis of the smoke in the air and the wood out back. Passable ribs and sliced pork, competent sides and three grades of the same okay if sweet hybrid tomato-mustard sauce. Nothing to get excited about, but good enough. Such a strong hickory flavor that I sorta wonder if they use liquid smoke, but maybe I'm just a cynic. Regardless, I'd take it over Sonny's any day, and over Woody's most days.

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