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Archive for August, 2012

We drove to Key West early one morning to spend the day. Arriving just in time for brunch, we started our Key West adventure at Blue Heaven. This place has a really cool outdoor seating area. There’s an outdoor bar that was packed at 10:15 am on a Tuesday. A lone guitarist sang the blues accompanied by crowing roosters and the clatter of dishes and silverware. There was even an outdoor shower provided for those who just came in from the beach, with a sign that read “$1 outdoor shower, $2 to watch”.

We sat down amid the other tourists and ordered a round of early morning drinks. I had a spicy bloody mary; he had a grapefruit mimosa. Perusing the food, I ordered a stack of blueberry pancakes and he ordered a lobster bacon tomato omelet. The spicy blood mary (non-virgin this time) was great. It came with olives and a pickle spear and had just the right balance of alcohol and spiciness. The grapefruit mimosa was light and refreshing on a hot humid Florida morning. The blueberry pancakes were light, fluffy and generously punctuated with giant fresh blueberries.

The lobster bacon tomato omelet was a big disappointment. It sounded fantastic but in reality, the omelet hinged on the quality of the lobster. Even though we were right near the water, the lobster felt like it was cooked in California and flown across the country. Its rubbery texture really detracted from the rest of the omelet.

Overally, the ambiance was great, the service was pretty good, and the food was ok. I’d definitely go back just for the vibe and to try something different.

BLUE HEAVEN Restaurant
729 Thomas St.
Key West, Florida 33040
305-296-8666
http://www.blueheavenkw.com/

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We were looking for something a little more relaxed for lunch. We found the Hungry Tarpon, a fish shack by the side of the road complete with its own little eclectic outdoor market. Sitting at the bar, you face the small kitchen that continuously puts out finished plates. On the vent hood, they have an collection of funny bumper stickers. Conversation between us died as we spent most of the lunch reading all of the bumper stickers.

The Bluewater Sandwich- Seared Ahi Tuna on a kaiser roll with wasabi mayo, lettuce and tomato
The sandwich was pretty good. The fish seemed fresh, but I have to admit that the best part was the wasabi mayo. It provided a great flavor kick to an otherwise bland sandwich.

Mahi-Mahi Fish Tacos
– grilled Mahi-Mahi with tartar sauce, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo
The tacos were ok. The mahi-mahi didn’t feel as fresh as the ahi tuna, but it was still tasty.

Overall, it was a “fish shack” so we weren’t expecting much. It was still better than one of the other places we had been, but I’ve had better.

Hungry Tarpon
77522 Overseas Highway
Islamorada, FL 33036
(305) 664-0535
http://www.hungrytarpon.com‎

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We stayed a few nights in Islamorada at the Cheeca Lodge. Since we had spent most of the day getting to Islamorada, we opted to stay close to Cheeca for dinner. We took the resort’s bikes and pedaled over to the Islamorada Fish Company. I thought it was odd at the time that this restaurant was located in such close proximity to an enormous Bass Pro Shops. But Jim and I spent an interesting hour wandering through the store looking at all of the products.

Now, as I write this, it all makes sense. The Islamorada Fish Company is actually part of the Bass Pro Shops chain of restaurants. This would explain the kitschy decor (large, fiberglass looking sea creatures hanging over your head). We had a few drinks on the beach by this point so I asked for virgin spicy bloody mary, Jim ordered a Mango Morada Colada. A long while later, our drinks arrived. The Mango Morada Colada was tasty, but you couldn’t detect any alcohol in it. The virgin spicy bloody mary must have had a double dose of alcohol in it because it was super strong.  I know that I ordered a virgin drink, but I definitely didn’t get one!

For food, we went on the lighter side: fish tacos and a Greek salad topped with dolphin. The fish tacos were ok to somewhat disappointing. Even though the restaurant is on the water and touts fresh fish, they must not have meant the fist they used in the tacos. There was a small amount of redemption in the greek salad with dolphin. No, you’re not actually eating the mammal. There is a dolphin fish: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pompano_dolphinfish. The grilled dolphin on top of the (average) greek salad was really good.

I can’t actually say that I would recommend this restaurant for the food. However, it has a great view of the gulf and some pretty good drinks.

 

Islamorada Fish Company

81532 Overseas Hwy (Mile Marker 81.5)
Islamorada, FL  33036

305-664-9271

http://restaurants.basspro.com/FishCompany/Islamorada/

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We landed in the sun and humidity in Miami and immediately made our way to a brunch spot. We needed some good food before we made the drive to Key West. Despite the heat, we opted to sit on Oliver’s brightly colored patio. I ordered a corned beef hash special with a virgin spicy bloody mary and Jim ordered the eggs benedict.

The corned beef hash was one of the better corned beef hashes I’ve had. I order it every time I see it on a brunch menu. It was the the kind where the corned beef is recognizable as having been meat at some point in its life. It wasn’t the ground mushy type of corned beef. It had a good texture and wasn’t overly salty. The virgin spicy bloody mary was a perfect companion, providing the right amount of zip for an otherwise mildly spiced dish. Jim was really happy with his eggs benedict (poached eggs on canadian bacon, english muffin, hollandaise sauce and grilled tomato). The hollandaise sauce was surprisingly light for being so rich. His plate was completely clean when he handed it back to the server.

We had a good meal here, but I have to admit that the service was a little slow. We didn’t really notice because we were trying to plan out the rest of our vacation. However, it being a Monday morning and there being less than 5 other tables filled, there didn’t really seem to be a reason for the service to be that slow.

 

Oliver’s Bistro

959 West Ave # 15  

Miami Beach, FL 33139

http://www.oliversmiamibeach.com/

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