Ocean Grill & Bar | Review

Caprese Salad

Caprese Salad

I love eating at Duval Square because it is a comfortable atmosphere with great restaurants and (drum roll) parking in Key West!  Ocean Grill & Bar recently opened after the owners of the New York Pasta Garden, also located in the square, bought the space and opened a seafood specific restaurant. With friends in town, four of us headed down to try out this new eatery on Friday night. To be safe, we did make reservations, always a good idea when dining in Key West.

When we arrived the restaurant was still a little quiet, so we were able to choose indoor or outdoor seating. Since my little Maltese, Indiana Bones, was not with us, we opted to eat inside. The decor is sleek and modern, and the acoustics were good so we did not have to shout at one another to be heard! Right off the bat, the hostess and the wait staff that we met were all very friendly and they were all very good looking too; it was like we walked into a photoshoot. I am pretty sure that if our waiter, Shawn, could make a pretty good living as a model if he got tired of doing what he is doing.

Wedge salad

Wedge salad

Once seated, we ordered drinks all around. The guys ordered manly cocktails while us girls each had a glass of wine. And these were not your average skimpy glass of wine. The glasses were filled to the top and by the middle of the meal we were both just a little tipsy. I think that Shawn said that they do a 16 ounce pour with all of their wine servings!

To start, we ordered the lobster bisque, the shrimp and grits, the calamari, and the wedge salad. I did not have a favorite out of these as they were all stand out dishes.

The lobster bisque had a hint of sherry mixed with the rich and creamy tomato and lobster soup, topped with poached lobster; it was simply mouthwatering. I have been dreaming about this bisque ever since!

Lobster, shrimp and scallops over pasta

Lobster, shrimp and scallops over pasta

The shrimp and grits was one of the best renditions of the dish that I have ever had; there were four large local shrimp grilled with a chili lime butter and served over cheese grits with a roasted corn butter sauce.

The calamari was something that I think even people that do not like calamari would enjoy. This dish was not at all chewy, and the chili honey garlic sauce that it was tossed with mingled sweet and spice perfectly.

The flavors of iceberg lettuce topped with bacon, onions, cherry tomatoes, gorgonzola cheese and a roasted garlic blue cheese dressing melded  together to make this simple wedge salad special.

After this we were all pretty full, but we decided to try a few other things on the menu. We followed up our amazing starters with a caprese salad, lobster, shrimp and scallop pasta, seafood risotto, and more shrimp and grits.

Seafood Risotto

Seafood Risotto

The fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, baby greens and basil with a balsamic reduction and olive oil made a delicious caprese salad.

The pasta dish was huge, and since we already feasted on so many appetizers around the table, we did have some left overs here. The pasta was prepared al dente and the seafood which included sautéed lobster, shrimp and sea scallops along with fresh baby spinach and sun dried tomatoes in a sherry tinged cream sauce and was very rich and very delicious.

The seafood risotto was also a very large portion, so we had leftovers here as well. The risotto was creamy and flavorful on its own. But served with perfectly sautéed lobster, shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic and topped with grated Parmesan cheese made this dish amazing.

Calamari

Calamari

I don’t even know what dessert options there were since we were ridiculously full after all of this. But I can tell you that we will be coming back again. There are some other dishes that I would love to try! Not to mention having a few of these other ones again. They also serve breakfast at Ocean Grill and Bar!

Before deciding where you are going to eat while visiting Key West or the rest of the Florida Keys, be sure to read my other restaurant reviews; check out our restaurant review section of this blog.

And to see what is happening on Key West during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.

Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!

Island Genn
Key West Concierge

Rooftop Cafe | Review

Snapper Special

Snapper Special

Our friends were recently visiting from out of town and we wanted to take them to dinner someplace quiet so that we could catch up with them without having to yell above the noise that is inherent to many downtown eateries. It had been a long time since I last ate at Rooftop Cafe, of which I had great memories. Located on Front Street in the heart of historic Key West, the atmosphere is “Keysy” yet elegant and fit the bill for what we were looking for.  The outdoor rooftop seating provides wonderful views of the downtown area (with this in mind, reservations are highly recommended for the daily brunch and dinner crowds).

The weather was perfect for outdoor dining, so we requested outside seating at a table overlooking Front Street.

Shrimp Basilico

Shrimp Basilico

After ordering drinks, we decided to try a few appetizers. We went with the pork belly, the calamari, and the shrimp and crab cake. I am not a fan of the fatty consistency typical to pork belly so I did not try this appetizer; our friends thought it was decent, although not outstanding. The calamari was also decent; it was not chewy but it was bland, only to be helped out by the accompanying dipping sauce. Unfortunately, the shrimp and crab cake was awful. It smelled and tasted very fishy and I was worried that I may get sick after eating a single bite.

Being disappointed with the appetizers, we were looking forward to our entrees.  I was torn between the scallops and the bouillabaisse; I went with our waitress’ recommendation of the scallops. In hindsight, I should have gone with the bouillabaisse as I had just eaten the best scallops of my life at Seven Fish a few days prior and I knew that they would be hard to

Scallops

Scallops

compare to.  While the scallops at Rooftop were okay, there were too many competing flavors which overpowered the delicate scallops. My husband ordered the shrimp basilico, a combination of shrimp, fresh basil, plum tomatoes, garlic and olive oil over linguini with parmesan. This was a really good dish. The shrimp were cooked perfectly and all of the flavors melded together. And our friends both ordered the snapper special.  I did not try the snapper, although it looked wonderful and they both enjoyed it.

We thought about trying their key lime pie which has been featured in Gourmet Magazine for dessert, but we decided to cap off the evening simply with coffee instead. They did make a good cup of coffee, and we enjoyed talking with our friends over our coffee.

Shrimp and Crab Cake

Shrimp and Crab Cake

The service at Rooftop was wonderful, as was the view and the entire atmosphere. But the food quality was really lacking in my opinion and not worth a final bill of nearly $300 with gratuity. I think that Rooftop is the perfect place to enjoy fine service, a  relaxed atmosphere, and a few drinks, but it will probably be a very long time before I eat here again.

Before deciding where you are going to eat while visiting Key West or the rest of the Florida Keys, be sure to read my other restaurant reviews too; check out our restaurant review section of this blog as well as our previous restaurant reviews.

And to see what is happening on Key West during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.

Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!

Island Genn
Key West Concierge

Blue Macaw Island Eats and Bar | Review

Beautiful fountain in front of the Blue Macaw.

Beautiful fountain in front of the Blue Macaw.

I was out shopping with my girlfriend Dianne the other day when we decided to grab a quick bite for lunch. Neither one of us had eaten at the new Blue Macaw Island Eats and Bar yet which is located at the entrance to Bahama Village, and as it looked so inviting we just had to try it out. As we walked into this little outdoor island oasis, hearing the tropically infused musical stylings of the fabulous Frankendread, we were instantly transported to vacation mode. (For those on you actually on vacation, this would make a great day drinking spot!)

Here is Frankendread playing for the diners.

Here is Frankendread playing for the diners.

We were seated at a small table near the bar and as we perused the menu there were several things that caught our attention. But, being girls out to lunch we opted for a couple of salads. I ordered the Kale Caesar and Dianne ordered the Island Passion. We sipped on our iced teas while listening to Frankendread play his music and we chatted about what a cool little place the Blue Macaw was. We spied their huge Bloody Mary Bar, and since we were so enjoying the atmosphere we decided that we would be bringing the hubbies back for brunch one day soon.

Kale Caesar Salad

Kale Caesar Salad at the Blue Macaw in Key West.

Our salads arrived and they were plated very prettily. But even better they tasted divine. The caesar was your basic caesar but with kale replacing some of the romaine. It was delicious and made a nice change from the typical caesar salad which can get a little boring. Diann’s salad looked like a beautiful tropical explosion. All of the ingredients melded wonderfully tighter and it was quite delicious.

So for about $20, the two of us had a yummy lunch and a fun experience. We are looking forward to our brunch there where we can have fun making our Bloody Mary’s.

Island Passion Salad at Key West's Blue Macaw

Island Passion Salad at Key West’s Blue Macaw.

Before deciding where you are going to eat while visiting Key West or the rest of the Florida Keys, be sure to read my other restaurant reviews too; check out our restaurant review section of this blog as well as our previous restaurant reviews.

And to see what is happening on Key West during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.

Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!

Island Genn
Key West Concierge

El Meson de Pepe’s: Review

Since 1985, the family run El Meson de Pepe’s has been serving Cuban food to residents and visitors of Key West. The restaurant has been at its present location in Mallory Square since 1997. This building is as much a museum as it is a restaurant with all of the paraphernalia preserving history of the Conch (local Key West) and Cuban heritage that is housed inside.

El Meson de Pepe's COMPLETA DE CABALLO GRANDE: Lechon Asado, Ropa Vieja, and Picadillo

El Meson de Pepe’s COMPLETA DE CABALLO GRANDE: Lechon Asado, Ropa Vieja, and Picadillo

It had been a while since we had dined here, so my husband and I decided to eat here with some friends this weekend. Since the guys had spent the day outside working, we opted to sit inside where we could soak up some air conditioning. And while if you sit outside you can enjoy the views of Mallory Square and people watching, inside your senses are overtaken by the huge amount of stuff all around you. From religious candles to signs to paintings to a replica of a record setting airplane, every direction you look there is something cool to see.

The place was hopping, but we still had good service. We started off our meal with a few drinks and the buttered Cuban bread brought to the table with delicious dipping sauces (one hot and one mild).  My husband and I are always on the hunt for a good pina colada and El Meson had a very good one.

For dinner I could not decide what I wanted so I went with their Complete de Caballo Grande which is a sampling of their three most popular Cuban dishes: Lechon Asado, Ropa Vieja, and Picadillo. Laura ordered the Ropa Vieja, Steven the Lechon Asado, and Brian the Bistec Palomilla Empanizada.

I love all three of the dishes that were a part of my entree. However, I thought that the Lechon Asado was the standout. This is pork that has been roasted with a mojo sauce and onions, making for a flavorful and moist dish. And it pairs perfectly with the yellow rice, black beans, yucca, and sweet plantains that were served with it. I think that I may have been very happy with just the rice and black beans as this alone was just delicious. The Ropa Vieja which literally translates to “old clothes” is shredded beef stewed with fresh tomatoes, green peppers, onions and red wine along with other seasonings. This was tender and tasted very good, but next to the pork I found it to be a bit bland. The Picadillo is a savory ground beef cooked with tomatoes, onions, garlic, bell peppers, seasonings, olives, capers, and raisins. This was very good as well; the sweet raisins and the savory beef compliment one another.

Brian’s Bistec Palomilla Empanizada which is a top sirloin steak that has been marinated, breaded, fried and served with chopped onions and parsley, was delicious. He said that it was tender and flavorful and he would definitely order it again the next time he dined at El Meson de Pepe’s.

To end the meal my husband and I both ordered a coffee. It was only room temperature, but it tasted delicious even so. And it was a nice cap to our delicious dinner.

As we left the restaurant after our meal and walked over to the Sunset Celebration held nightly at Mallory Square, we walked by El Meson de Pepe’s Patio Bar where music was playing and people were dancing. This is really a lively spot with good food and service.

Before deciding where you are going to eat while visiting Key West or the rest of the Florida Keys, be sure to read my other restaurant reviews too; check out our restaurant review section of this blog as well as our previous restaurant reviews.

And to see what is happening on Key West during your visit, check out our Key West Events Calendar to see other upcoming special events. For more information about the fun side of Key West… things to do and see in our island city, go to our Key West Web Site.

Feel free to Email Me if you have any questions about Key West!!

Island Genn
Key West Concierge