You know how sometimes you read a menu at a restaurant and you just can’t decide among all the amazing offerings? You won’t have that problem at U-Tiki Beach in Jupiter.
Last night, Mr. R. and I ended up driving through Jupiter in a monsoon as we considered where to have dinner for date night. We’d run a few errands (I bought two pairs of shoes for work) and we were hungry, but the weather was not conducive for outdoor dining at Guanabanas or Square Grouper, two of our favorite places on the water in Jupiter. Which is why Mr. R. steered us into the parking lot of a new place on the water that’s been getting a lot of buzz.
U-Tiki opened in March, on the Jupiter Inlet, just west of the now defunct Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. It’s owned by the same guy who owns Jetty’s. From the front it looks like a regular Key West style building but as you walk inside you realize that the entire back of the place is open to the water. There is indoor and outdoor seating with a small marina between you and the Jupiter Lighthouse. We were shown to a high top table in the bar area just under the edge of the roof line with the outdoor ‘beach’ dining and marina opening in front of us.
We settled back to enjoy a nice waterfront dinner. One clue that it would be less than that was when Mr. R., a cigar aficionado, was told that although cigarette smoking is allowed outside (read, out from under the roof line) cigar smoking is not allowed anywhere on the property. Meaning you can’t even walk to the end of the marina out over the water and smoke a cigar, but you could stand right next to our table and smoke a cigarette. This point was emphasized to us by a young woman dressed in what could have been a nightgown and who was, presumably, the head hostess.
Our menus were presented to us by our server Mandy, who was the bright spot in our visit. She was friendly and efficient. The menu, however, was disappointing. First of all, there were no Happy Hour specials on drinks or appetizers so we decided that we’d have a proper dinner. But there was really nothing that jumped out at either of us. Even the appetizer list was lame. It’s bad when the fish dip is the most appealing item.
Moving ahead in spite of our misgivings, I ordered a Bermuda Triangle cocktail. It was average, definitely not worth ordering a second. Instead, I drank my water when it was gone.
My sons and I like to play a game when we fly. It’s called ‘You Have to Buy Something From Every Page of the Sky Mall.’ The object of the game is to pretend that you have to buy one item from every page. You end up going, “Okay, I’ll take the sculpture of the zombie crawling out of the ground.”
It was just like that trying to decide what to order at U-Tiki. Nothing sounded amazing, there was nothing creative or interesting, and the prices were way too high for something you’re just settling for. Burgers were $15, salads were $17, and proper meals were $23. We both ended up ordering burgers. I had the Onion Burger, which is a cheese burger with ‘crispy onions’ on it. Apparently we’re calling onion rings crispy onions now. Mr. R. had the Sauteed Shiitake Cheese Burger. Guess what his cheeseburger had on it.
As usual, I ordered my burger well done and Mr. R. had his medium. When they arrived, mine was medium and his was rare, as in, bloody. We opted not to return them, wishing to get out of there as quickly as possible. The fries were hot and nicely crisp on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside. But they were from frozen, while at this price point, I expected fresh-cut potatoes with some signature seasoning. As it was, whatever oil the potatoes were fried in left them so dry even salt wouldn’t stick to them.
Mr. R. and I both had the thought that the place simply takes itself too seriously. It’s a tiki bar. That’s a noble thing, given the setting and the view. But we can have the same view without the pretentiousness about a block east at Square Grouper. Which is what we’ll do next time, because we won’t be back to U-Tiki.
But hey, it wasn’t all bad. Mr. R. and I spent quality time together. And I got new shoes. So there’s that.
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