Taste of the Treasure Coast
Fine dining, great food and happy patrons make
Post & Vine an ideal spot near Vero’s downtown
By Greg Gardner
When Bobby Del Campo and Sean Tuohy met in college, they never dreamed that 24 years later their paths would intersect from across the state in Vero Beach and they would run a restaurant together.
While students in Tallahassee, Tuohy helped Del Campo get his first restaurant job, and the two remained friends and in touch until they decided to open Post & Vine in Vero’s arts district near downtown.
Del Campo had just closed his Mind Your Manors restaurant in Fort Lauderdale and, like seemingly everyone else, was trying to flee South Florida. His father lived in Vero Beach and he discovered the space formerly occupied by the post office on 14th Avenue.
Working in fine dining restaurants in Tampa, Tuohy taught himself how to cook. He made the move a hundred miles east while Del Campo came a hundred miles from the south to zero in on Vero Beach. They have a great relationship as Del Campo runs the front of the house and Tuohy the back of the house.
“It was serendipitous that this space became available and we designed a place where people would want to hang out at,” says Tuohy, managing partner and head chef. One third of the original building is the interior of the restaurant, and the covered outside seating area was built over an empty field.
The cozy bar is made from Florida cypress and offers 12 drafts with craft beers rotated in and out. Thirty wines are available by the glass. Beginning to show up in smaller cities in Florida is the Frose, a frozen drink with rose wine, vodka and organic juice, mixed just like rum runners or margaritas. It will take care of your thirst after a walk by the area’s many art galleries. A conversation piece is the enormous Big Ass Fan that does a pretty fair job of cooling the customers on the patio.
If you go there, you will see Del Campo because he is everywhere, greeting incoming patrons, checking in with diners and bussing tables. Post & Vine is the kind of restaurant where after your chicken wings, you get a hot, damp cloth — not wet-naps.
“This place has a great vibe and the people who come here are nice,” says regular Absalom Ferguson, a retired aerospace specialist from Vero Beach. “The owners are awesome. The way he (Del Campo) teaches his servers how to be professional is off the chart. Classy people come here for the décor and the atmosphere. This place has so much potential for live music.”
Future plans call for a pizza oven outside on the patio.
“People like Americana and they like what they are familiar with,” says Del Campo. “We have an eclectic menu from a Bavarian pretzel to a soft shell crab sandwich. Everything is fresh here and we don’t own a microwave. We’re excited to be here in Vero Beach. We have a lot of support from downtown. The city has a draw to bring people downtown with the Art Walk on the last Friday of every month. We’re excited to be here and we’re getting good feedback. If you have good food and ambience, you are bound to be successful.”
The interior has a comfortable, contemporary look with the original wood ceiling beams and attractive windowed garage doors that can be opened or closed, depending on the weather. Diners pack the outside to enjoy live music and the fire pit on the weekends. While ripping up two layers of tile, terrazzo flooring was discovered. The partners knew they had to polish the floor and keep it. Opened earlier this year after $500,000 in renovations, Post & Vine offers a varied menu with something for everyone. People drive from Stuart for the Cuban sandwiches, a specialty chef Tuohy perfected in Tampa. He imports authentic Cuban La Segunda bread from Tampa, and all the pickles are homemade in the restaurant.
“All of my cooking is very personal, but I take my Cuban sandwiches very seriously,” he says. “All of the dishes are my children and I love them all. They come for the atmosphere and they come back for the food. What we have to offer is a little different from other restaurants in the area, and we hold ourselves to a high level of service. We have approachable, but not too high-brow, American cuisine.”
The black and bleu, chipotle, “P & V” and classic burgers all begin with a 10-ounce blend of short rib, brisket and chuck, and end in a giant stack with lettuce, onion and tomato. The meat has a very different taste than ground sirloin. Vegetarians can enjoy the Southwest Black Bean Burger on the menu.
A recent nightly feature was the juicy inch-thick pork chop with asparagus and Yukon gold mashed potatoes. From a friend’s recipe, the carrot ginger bisque with crushed candied walnuts is creamy, although not too rich with a thick, tasty texture.
Popular appetizers are the Asian chicken wings tossed in a garlic, sweet with heat Teriyaki sauce, the best-selling brie pillow with candied pecans and roasted walnut honey, and smoked salmon bruschetta with capers, red onion and sundried tomatoes tossed in a lemon feta dressing and topped with shredded parmesan.
Made from the recipe of the great-grandmother of one of Tuohy’s mentors in Tampa is Selena’s white BBQ shrimp, large gulf shrimp in a New Orleans-style white barbecue sauce. Of the six salads offered, maybe the furthest off the beaten path is the Santa Fe salad with fresh mixed greens, roasted corn, black beans, avocado and cherry tomatoes tossed in a chipotle ranch dressing and topped with tortilla strips. All salads can be complemented with grilled chicken, steak, shrimp, soft shell crab and salmon.
The dessert menu changes except for the standard homemade Key lime pie. Side order jasmine rice is imported from Thailand while the hand-cut fries have the perfect mixture of seasoning without being oily. Truffle fries are also on the menu.