Anyone who remembers the old Sea Harvest restaurant in New Smyrna Beach, Florida will remember the charm of a low key place that served up great food for an affordable price. After hurricanes destroyed the dock and possibly the restaurant itself, the place sat empty for a while. The Dolphin View took over the location at some point and we got take out when we were shopping for our home in the area.
The Dolphin View closed and every time we took the boat down this area of the Indian River we watched for signs of a new restaurant being built on this spot. Now, finally we have the River Deck. I was excited to learn that a well-known place had expanded to this location. The Ocean Deck is a well-known name in this area. As I understand it, the same owners have purchased the old Sea Harvest spot and opened the River Deck.
Our Story of a Visit to the River Deck
We had been out fishing and boating most of the day. My son wanted some seafood for supper – we had caught nothing to keep. So he drove to the new River Deck restaurant, towing the boat, and tried to park along the roadway to be out of the way. A man came running down the road and told us we couldn’t park there. On the way in, I noticed that the entrances to the parking lots were blocked and announced “valet parking”. So the man, who apparently ran the parking area, signaled us to come down to the front of the restaurant. He told us that no trailered boat parking was allowed. My son said he just wanted to go in and grab some take out. The man said that he would allow us to park this one time, but generally it was not allowed.
This was nice of him. But all the while I was looking around the new parking area with newly planted palm trees and valet parking for all vehicles and thinking “Wow, this is nothing like the Sea Harvest”.
What I Remember About the Sea Harvest
My ex-husband and I used to have an evening out and drive over to the beach to eat at the Sea Harvest (a photo). To get back to the blue building, there was a little road, which may have been dirt, hidden next to the Marina in New Smyrna Beach. You would drive down and park in the lot and go inside a not-so-fancy building to order your food. The meals were plentiful and the Grouper sandwich was popular because of all the fish that made up the filling. It was also very affordable. My ex (not an ex at the time) and I would sit at a rustic table on a rustic dock and watch the boats go up and down the River. It was a cheap way to eat good food next to the water. This place was typical old Florida, in my opinion.
From the Parking Lot, I Decided I Didn’t Like the New Place
The River Deck is quite a different atmosphere. The building was blue, but the resemblance ended there. I have not gone inside because I had to stay with the boat, but I did eat a $20 take out meal of fish sandwich and fries later at home. I thought it was overpriced. But the most disturbing thing was the outside. It was the fact that valet parking was required. We quit going to Outriggers mainly for this reason. Valet parking should be a choice. Now, maybe it helps with insurance, but this idea that cars must be parked by attendants certainly takes away from the old Florida charm for me.
Also, music played for all to hear. Now, call me old-fashioned, but if I want to hear music I will play what I like. When I go to a water-view restaurant maybe I just want to sit and talk and eat and enjoy the view. Once again, I did not go inside.
At a Florida restaurant I want to drive in, park and go eat. I want rustic. I want low-key and I want good food for an affordable price. I did not see this at the River Deck. And I never left the parking lot. I don’t plan to return, but we may pull up to the dock one day in our boat. Who knows. All I can say is that I am not eager to revisit.
The parking lot is right next to the New Smyrna Marina or is it the River Deck Marina? Here there were still signs of hurricane damage to the piers. I was surprised to see that the docks had not been fixed.
Although we were allowed to park because it was a fairly slow time, the food was not impressive and the fact that valet parking is required really turned us off. It is not like the old Sea Harvest by a long shot. Florida in general is losing it’s old charm and too many businesses are catering to the wealthy northerners who expect something more, apparently.
Thank God we still have a couple restaurants left that have not changed to keep the visitors happy. Goodrich’s is a favorite and Breakers is still a rustic beachside place to eat.
See my list of places to eat on the water in New Smyrna Beach.