The Old Sea Harvest Restaurant Re-invented as the River Deck

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.

Valet parking required at the River Deck restaurant in New Smyrna Beach Florida
Why all the valet parking at area restaurants?

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.

The new River Deck restaurant in New Smyrna Beach
Parking at the River Deck is Valet

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”.

River Deck restaurant New Smyrna Beach
The new River Deck restaurant

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.

  • New Smyrna Beach marina deck damage from hurricanes
  • Dock damage at the NSB marina in Florida

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.

I’d rather eat here

Breakers restaurant on the beach

Quiet Day On The Boat

A hot and beautiful day on the boat took us to a remote river island, a stop in the ocean, and then…

Shrimping Just Before the Lockdown

My son and a friend went out shrimping Thursday night and came back with a full haul. That means five gallons of shrimp. Half went to the friend, and we got the rest.

Thursday night at midnight our state lockdown went into effect and that means no more launching the boat. The ramps and parks are now closed. My son had planned to go shrimping again next week, but that will not happen.

fresh caught shrimp in colander
Fresh shrimp

Shrimping takes place at night, usually late at night (this is why I don’t go). The shrimp run as the tide goes out and it must be dark. A light is lowered into the water to attract the shrimp and they are scooped up in big nets. You can read about my son’s first shrimping trip here.

My son got home around 1:30 in the morning so the shrimp stayed in the cooler until the next day. We sat outside and de-headed every shrimp, then bagged most of them up to freeze. We also shared a few bags with our neighbors.

Fresh caught shrimp bagged to freeze
Bagging the shrimp

This time, I decided to put fewer shrimp in the bags so there would not be so many to peel at one time when they were thawed. I also divided them by largest, medium and small sizes. The photo below was from another time, but we had some shrimp even larger this time!

A big shrimp

That night we cooked some for ourselves and wow, were they delicious! It’s like growing your own tomatoes and they taste so much better than store bought. It’s the same with fresh caught shrimp.

Yesterday I cut up this little plate to stir fry with vegetables. I like shrimp and fish cooked this way, without seasonings and salt so the shrimp flavor comes through. My vegetable selection is sparse right now, but I do have garlic, onions and carrots on hand, with basil and parsley growing in the garden.

fresh caught shrimp stir fry ready to cook
Chopped and ready to cook

Of course there are many recipes online, but I personally like a simple dish like this the best. We’ll have shrimp to eat for months to come, even after sharing our haul with some friends.

Want to know the rules of shrimping in Florida? Read about it at the Florida Fish and Wildlife site.

Hope all is well with you, my faithful readers.

Gator Bites And Bay Scallops For Lunch

At Goodrich’s Restaurant the other day my son ordered the gator bites appetizer. He said we should order more gator because there are far too many of them around.  Who likes alligators?  They are creepy.  For some reason I don’t like the idea of eating one.  But my son highly recommends them as appetizers.

bay scallops dinner
Bay scallops and lots of fried stuff

I stuck with my bay scallops, which were yummy.  Also on the menu are frog’s legs.  I don’t see myself eating those either.

Goodrich’s menu is very “southern” with items such as grits, black-eyed peas and po’ boys on the menu.  Surprisingly they do offer New England Clam Chowder!  Lots of seafood like oysters, clam strips, shrimp, crab, scallops and fish (the catch of the day).  They also serve burgers and chicken.

For a place located in the middle of nowhere – Oak Hill is not exactly a hoppin’ place – Goodrich’s is always busy.  We chose to go in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday because of that.

fried gator bites
Gator Bites

We’d heard that Goodrich’s had sustained damage to their deck and docks from Hurricane Irma back in September 2017. This was our first visit since then.

I was trying to remember exactly how it had looked on our last visit, and finally I asked the waitress what was new, and she said the entire deck had to be rebuilt.   In fact, if you look at the video on their website you can see all the things that are missing now.  Gone are the thatched umbrellas, and the new roof now covers the entire deck, which allows for more covered seating areas.  No more picnic tables either.  The furniture is heavy-duty plastic.

She also said that the only reason it was already replaced is that some of the employees had done it. It seems the wait for hurricane repairs is still long.

new deck and overhang at Goodrich's
View south from the new deck at Goodrich’s Restaurant

Looking south in my photo above you can just see another long dock which has not been fixed.  And beyond that is the Seminole Rest historic site.

There is a place to tie off the boat if you choose that way to come eat, but the old dock is gone with only the pilings left. Maybe they will rebuild that too, but building a dock can’t be easy.

posts where the dock was
The old dock is gone thanks to the hurricanes and storms of 2017.

Although these water-view restaurants are fantastic places to eat – what better view? It must be tough when a storm, or God forbid a hurricane, comes through. Another old favorite place to eat on the water was the Sea Harvest in New Smyrna. That building is still sitting empty, but it did look like someone was re-building that one the last time we passed it in our boat.

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