Pineda Inn Bar & Grill
3½ palms (out of 5)
Where: 8533 S. U.S. 1, Rockledge
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Sports bar is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
Also: Pineda Inn includes a front bar and dining area, a large sports bar, a riverside patio, a boardwalk, dock and tiki bar. Patrons often arrive by boat, catamaran or personal watercraft.
Sometimes new is better, like new shoes or a new car. But there’s something comforting about the familiar, too. And spending a Sunday afternoon at the Pineda Inn Bar & Grill is like hanging out with an old friend.
I’ll admit it. I’ve got a sentimental attachment to the place. I first visited Pineda Inn in December 1998 when I was interviewing for my job at FLORIDA TODAY. In the years that followed, the Pineda has been a favorite hangout for the after-work crowd.
The old Pineda Inn closed after the 2004 hurricane season. Conch Key Grill, which opened in the riverside location, was a fun hangout, too. I was a fan of its award-winning clam chowder, and it was nice the iconic mermaid kept her lofty seat out front.
But there’s something simpatico about the place resuming the Pineda Inn name.
A friend and I decided to have lunch in the back sports bar. It was quiet when we got there, and we chose a table by a sliding glass door that overlooks the river.
The menu isn’t huge — a page of appetizers, soups and salads, and a page of sandwiches and entrees — which isn’t a bad thing. Some menus can be overwhelming.
We started with a Grilled Caribbean Shrimp appetizer ($9.95). The firm, juicy shrimp were dusted with a spicy, island rub. The remoulade dipping sauce was a perfect accompaniment, tempering the spices and adding its own tangy flavor.
Just as we were finishing — food arrived at the table really quickly — our entrees were up.
My Cuban sandwich ($7.95) was warm, meaty and cheesy, pressed between crusty bread. Leftover remoulade sauce from the shrimp mixed well with the hot, chunky fries.
My friend ordered the fish and chips special ($9.95). Chips, in this case, our server explained, are indeed potato chips, not the British version: french fries. But my friend was able to get fries instead.
The slabs of flaky white fish were lightly breaded and had a nice, fresh flavor. She was pleased with her lunch choice. Other entrees include crab cakes ($15.95), fried seafood platter ($14.95) and seafood au gratin ($14.95), which our server highly recommended.
The only blight on a perfectly lovely lunch arrived via boat a few minutes before we finished. Children rushed inside the bar to play the skeeball game, which we hadn’t noticed before and was only inches from our table.
When the bar is packed and the music is playing, I’m sure the game is a lot of fun. But on a quiet afternoon, the racket was jarring. All was not lost, though. We settled up with our server and went outside to the tiki bar to enjoy rum runners ($6.75) and a cool river breeze.
Welcome back, old friend.
Contact FLeming Leonard at 321-242-3614 or email@example.com.