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

Key West Aquarium

The main section of the Key West Aquarium located at Mallory Square.

The main section of the Key West Aquarium located at Mallory Square.

The Key West aquarium is one of Key West’s oldest tourist attractions. First opened in the winter of 1935, the aquarium had a bright future until the Labor Day hurricane of 1935 hit the islands and destroyed the overseas railroad and for awhile Keys tourism with it. For a time, the building served as a gun range for the US military. But in the mid 1940’s the aquarium reopened and it has been a popular attraction ever since.

Throughout the years many improvements were made to the building and to the exhibits, updating with the times. Today, the aquarium has some amazing exhibits, including American Alligator, Atlantic Shores, Jellyfish, Stingray Bay, Shark Feeding, and Touch Tank.

The American Alligator exhibit was one of my favorites. The baby alligators on display are on loan from the Alligator Farm in Homestead. When they alligators reach a certain size they are returned to the farm and swapped for babies. The Alligator room not only features these cute reptiles, but there is also a plethora of information about the American Alligator that you can read and be educated through.

While the Alligator exhibit was one of my favorites, the Atlantic Shores Exhibit was the most impressive of this little aquarium. It is an actual living red mangrove ecosystem that showcases the waters of the Florida Keys and why the mangroves are so important to the local environment. Local sport fish such as tarpon and permit along with tropical species like angelfish and parrotfish call this mangrove ecosystem home. Green sea turtles and nurse sharks can also be found enjoying their days in this exhibit.

The Jellyfish exhibit was very small, but the dark background and bright lighting made for a very cool viewing station for these gelatinous creatures of the sea.

The Stingray Bay allows for visitors to touch and feed the stingrays as these creatures are pretty docile and do not present a danger.

I always seem to miss the shark feedings, but they are offered daily at 11am, 1pm, 3pm, and 4:30pm so plan your visit accordingly!

And the Touch Tank is filled with all different types of species that you can touch and photograph for an amazing memory. Sea stars were so cute and my favorite in this display, but there were also conchs, urchins, cucumbers, horseshoe crabs, and hermit crabs.

In addition to these exhibits, there are many other sea creatures featured. Our group voted the scariest as the Moray Eel. Yikes! Seahorses were another group favorite. And other local fish and other sea life like corals, lobsters, pinfish, jacks, french grunts, and many others that I have now forgotten can all be found in one of the many displays.

Visitors to the aquarium can opt to take a tour or they can explore on their own. And this may be the only aquarium that is dog friendly (as long as they are leashed). I am betting that Indiana Bones is pretty mad at me right now for not bringing him along!

So is you are visiting Key West come check out the aquarium which is opened 365 days a year!

Be sure to keep up with my blog for information about Key West. From its long history to what is happening right now!

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

And to see what is happening on the island 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

Salute! | Review

Shrimp Salad from Salute!

Shrimp Salad from Salute!

Salute! is a little Italian restaurant right on Higgs Beach. It has been a favorite spot of mine ever since I moved here because of the view as well as for the laid back atmosphere and good food. Recently it was bought by the owners of Blue Heaven, so we went back for lunch yesterday to see how it has changed if at all. It is still a relaxed little eatery where dogs are welcome. The menu is slightly changed, but not much.

After being seated outside, we ordered drinks (they have a full bar but we just had sodas). For entrees I ordered the shrimp salad, my husband ordered the yellowtail sandwich, my friend Mark ordered the gazpacho and the caprece salad with avocado, my friend Cathy ordered the pasta and vegetables, and finally my friend Melissa ordered the green salad.

While we waited for our food we requested a basket of bread and butter because we were famished. The waitress told us there would be a slight charge for the bread which we were fine with and she promptly brought it out. It was a soft, slightly sweet grain bread, and that surprised me being that it is an Italian restaurant with island flair, but it was absolutely delicious.

When our food was brought out, we noticed that the portion sizes were generous.

My shrimp salad was served with one slice of the same type of bread brought out to us earlier, buttered, with a salad of mixed greens and fresh sliced avocado tossed with a light vinaigrette dressing and a pile of shrimp salad that was light and delicious. Everything on my plate melded perfectly taste-wise with one another and I could not even finish it due to the large portion size.

Yellowtail Snapper Fish Sandwich at Salute!

Yellowtail Snapper Fish Sandwich at Salute!

My husband was happy to see that his fish sandwich was actually yellowtail as was advertised. Unfortunately, the sandwich was very dry and he had to ask for more tarter sauce so that he could swallow it down. And the fish was overcooked to boot. He really wanted fries with his sandwich but the restaurant does not have a fryer, so it was served with potato salad which was very bland and it was therefore left untouched.

The gazpacho was tasty, but we all thought that we would have preferred it warm. Yes, we know it is supposed to be served cold! However, it was a nice dish on a warm summer day such as it was yesterday.

You cannot go wrong with a simple caprices salad, as long as the tomatoes and cheese are fresh, which they were. And the addition of the avocado was a nice ouch that added another taste dimension to this salad.

The pasta was the perfect summer dish with lots of vegetables (tomatoes, mushrooms, and squash) gently sautéed and  lightly tossed with olive oil. It was made even better once sprinkled with a bit of table salt.

The green salad is a favorite of mine and I was glad to see it still on the menu. It is a large mixed greens salad with crispy sliced apples, tangy gorgonzola cheese, and walnuts tossed with a light and tasty vinaigrette dressing.

All in all our lunch was a success, with the fish sandwich being the lone loser; sad at a beachfront island restaurant. But I find that this happens often at many restaurants, especially with a delicate fish such as snapper.

Service was good. The waitress was friendly and we never had to wait long for a drink refill. And she checked up on us regularly. As with Blue Heaven, there were chickens running around the outside in the dining area and they were jumping up on the tables which had the staff shooing them away. To some this can be unsanitary, but to others it is part of the charm of Key West. I am of the second school, as long as the chickens don’t fight me or my dog for our food!

Before deciding where you will eat while visiting Key West, be sure to read my other restaurant reviews; check out our restaurant review section of this blog as well as our previous restaurant reviews.

To see what is happening on the island 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 Heaven | Review

Blue Heaven Key West

Entrance to Blue Heaven Restaurant in Key West

“Radar” Rob, Indiana Bones and I headed downtown this afternoon to grab lunch at Blue Heaven. Neither of us had been there in awhile so were were really looking forward to it. Finding parking nearby is a real pain. We ended up parking in a lot a couple of blocks away for $10, but I would suggest just take a cab and totally eliminate the pain of parking.  [Read more…]