It was a patience-testing process, but it was worth the years-long wait. Downtown Eustis’ newest addition to its restaurant scene, Lake Eustis Waterfront Grille, finally opened last month and anxious diners finally got to take in the expansive waterfront views and eclectic American cuisine.
The 170-seat restaurant features two full bars, a screened area with multiple TVs, and open-air patio dining that’s perfect for boaters seeking to grab a meal on the waterfront or just enjoy some cocktails. Although there are televisions on the patio to watch the games, the restaurant is not a sports bar, but has more of an upscale fish camp vibe.
The newly constructed, two-story restaurant is still working out some kinks during busy times, but on a recent private dining experience, Mount Dora Buzz was treated to some excellent specialty dishes that highlighted what the talented kitchen staff was capable of.
The restaurant manager, chef and kitchen staff were all refreshingly passionate about their food and service. Our culinary journey began with light and savory hushpuppies brought to the table instead of bread. The ceviche appetizer was fresh and flavorful with just the right amount of cilantro. The other appetizer we tried were the crave-worthy sweet potato wedges that were cooked crisp and with a spicy maple drizzle. For entrees, the macadamia-crusted haddock filet was cooked perfectly crisp and served with a light, house-made keylime beurre blanc sauce along with thin baby asparagus spears and cilantro rice. For landlubbers, the hand-cut 16-ounce New York strip was tender enough to cut without a steak knife and the housemade chimichurri sauce was all flavor and freshness. The vegetarian pasta primavera had a light sauce with perfectly cooked vegetables and freshly shaved parmesan.
On a subsequent visit, we tried the steak tips which were well-seasoned with a dry rub and cooked perfectly. The fish and chips was well-cooked cod with a nice crunch. On another visit, the cedar plank salmon and the pasta primavera dishes were disappointing and the interior dining area was loud. Given time to work out the issues, we know firsthand that the experienced staff is very capable of delivering fantastic dishes. On every visit, the servers were very friendly and attentive.
The driving forces behind the scenes are the restaurant’s local owners, Jim and Conni Berry and Daniel and Merrilyn DiVenanzo. The two couples are old friends and first partnered together on the project when they purchased the marina. Later they decided to build the 6,000 square-foot waterfront eatery which has taken almost three years from conception to opening day.
Plenty of attention was given to the restaurant's exterior with its beautiful landscape design. On the west side of the property there is a short nature boardwalk that goes under the bridge to assist patrons parked in the ample overflow parking lot across the street. Guests can also arrive via water and secure their boats on the cleats available at the end of the dock. Eventually, more customer docking will be built to accommodate more boaters.
Lake Eustis Waterfront Grille is open Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Above: Photo of a Miller's Ale House in another location. (Miller's Ale House photo, copyright 2022)
As more rooftops are built around Mount Dora, more restaurants and retailers are attracted to the main thoroughfares of the area. The latest with plans to open in the city is Miller’s Ale House, which plans a location in front of Target near Panda Express on U.S. Highway 441.
The Florida-based sports bar and restaurant chain cooks up traditional American fare of burgers, chicken, steaks, salads and a full bar. Its casual atmosphere provides a comfortable backdrop to watch sporting events or just enjoy a relaxed lunch or dinner or cocktails at the bar.
The first Ale House opened in 1988, in the coastal town of Jupiter, Florida. Now the chain has over 50 locations in the state, 94 locations in ten states.
Previously, the name of the restaurant would be specific to the location. So the Ale House in Sanford was dubbed Sanford Ale House and the one in Orlando was Orlando Ale House. Eventually the location was dropped from the name and “Miller’s” was added to all of the restaurants.
Miller’s Ale House now joins Longhorn Steakhouse and Culver’s as the latest restaurant chains with plans to expand into Mount Dora. Longhorn will be building a location at 17020 U.S. Highway 441 near Walmart and Culver’s will be further south at 18996 U.S. Highway 441 near the Country Club of Mount Dora. Follow Mount Dora Buzz on Instagram for the opening date when it becomes available. For more local development information, click here.