Do you ever want to get away from town for a while and take a short vacation away from home? It’s nice to have the beautiful beaches of the east and west coasts of Florida just an hour or so away from us here in Orlando (though we often forget). I grew up in West Palm Beach my whole life, with the beach only a few minutes drive away but it wasn’t until after moving away to Orlando for college did I understand how much I took the beaches for granted.
I was recently invited to visit The Shorts Resort and Spa in Daytona Beach, Florida (a winner of Orlando Sentinel’s Best Bets Awards for Best Hotel) to try out the menu at their on-site restaurant Azure as well as take in the ocean views at their hotel. Home to the Daytona 500 and the Daytona International Speedway, Bike Week, and Biketoberfest, Daytona Beach is only about an hour away after zipping along I-4 and getting off at I-95. The beaches in Daytona are famed for their wide stretches of smooth, compacted sand, attracting automobile and motorcycle races beginning in 1902 and eventually leading to the founding of NASCAR.
The Shores was originally built as the Hilton hotel in 1971. In 2004 when the hurricanes came and took down pretty much most of Central Florida, the Hilton building suffered as well. Soon the Hilton hotel moved down the street to another location and The Shores was founded at the location after a total renovation.
With the distinction of being the only AAA Four-Diamond luxury beachfront hotel in Daytona Beach, The Shores Resort and Spa definitely brings great service and luxury to every aspect of its operations, including their restaurant Azure tucked inconspicuously on the first floor near the back of the building with extra seating on the Atlantic beach front.
At dinner at the Azure, our waiter Todd was knowledgable, attentive, courteous and genuine, pretty much everything you could hope for in a waiter. He gave us several recommendations which all were spot on this night. We began with the Sweet Corn and Crab Chowder, made with blue crab, sweet potato crisps, slices of tortillas, and some of the crispiest, sweet corn in a bowl. The Steamed Middle Neck Clams dish came in a sweet, rich pinot grio white wine and butter sauce, topped with fresh tarragon, and fresh tomato and provided a wonderful sauce to dip the house bread into.
For a salad, I chose the Fried Green Tomato & Feta Cheese salad made with breaded, buttermilk marinated fried green tomatoes, feta cheese, organic field greens, olives, cracked pepper and topped with a bourbon molasses vinaigrette. The fried green tomatoes were tart and delicious. My partner chose the Baby Arugula & Sliced Crisp Pear salad with sweet pecans and a white balsamic vinaigrette dressing.
For the main course, Todd recommended to me the Caribbean Grilled Cobia, a white fish served with coconut rice, lemon garlic spinach, and a carrot citrus butter sauce. The dish was fantastic and immediately brought me back to the time I spent on the island of St Maarten in the Caribbean with its very fresh fish. The cobia was light and flavorful and the coconut rice, butter sauce, and lemon garlic spinach all melded beautifully together in my palate.
My partner chose the Atlantic Seafood Etouffee a cajun dish made with shrimp, scallops, fresh catch, and crawfish tail with steamed jasmine rice. Having visited New Orleans on multiple occasions and having etouffee as one of my favorite dishes from that region, I tend to have a prejudice when I meet other etouffee creations, judging it against the freshness and rich flavors of the roux in the etouffees found in the Big Easy. The Atlantic Seafood Etouffee, I found, was a spot on Cajun creation, filled with all the tastes and authentic textures and ingredients I had remembered before, and yet also adding its own touch on the classic with the fresh seafood from the Atlantic.
For dessert, we chose the always popular Brownie Mudslide, a delicious warm chocolate brownie, with kahlúa and bailey’s ice cream, topped with toasted pecans and a caramel sauce.
After dinner, you can take a stroll down to one of the many oceanside firepits set up and enjoy the sweet simple pleasure of seaside S’mores, made with your traditional graham crackers, toasty marshmallows and warm gooey chocolate. The s’mores, the fire pit, and the crashing waves near by all made for a very beautiful night.
After some rest in the hotel, when the sunrises, you can really see why the Shores is a popular place for weddings and meeting events. The view of the Atlantic is just breathtaking.
Sunrise at Daytona Beach from The Shores
In the morning, the Azure restaurant serves up breakfast daily. I ordered the Stone Roasted Eggs made with two eggs cooked on a stone pan (supposedly it gives it some added grill flavor), roasted tomatoes, garlic spinach,parmesan cheese, and toast. My partner ordered the Crab Cake Benedict, a dish made with two poached eggs on blue crab cakes with hollandaise sauce and hash browns.
All in all, it really surprised me that Azure was so unknown before, tucked away like any good hidden secret, on the beautiful shores of the Atlantic beach and away from visitors’ knowledge. I hope more people find out about this place soon here at Azure, inside The Shores Resort and Spa, as it has some of the best dishes you can find here in Central Florida and I would definitely go back just to try these dishes again alone, not to mention the fantastic seaside views and amenities at The Shores. Check it out soon !
For more information, visit The Shores Resort and Spa – 2637 South Atlantic Avenue Daytona Beach Shores, FL 32118 (Tel) 386.767.7350 - http://www.shoresresort.com/