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

New York Pasta Garden | Review

New York Pasta Garden Key West Italian Restaurant LogoConveniently located in Duval Square between Duval and Simonton Streets with ample free parking, NYPG reminds me of an outdoor cafe in the Old Country. I love the atmosphere here where you can relax outside with a glass of wine and some good Italian food. The food is moderately priced and they serve up large portions.

Six of us ate here a few nights ago. We all tried something different and were all very happy with our meals. But before we get to that, the waiter, who was very animated, brought over a plate of artichoke franchise on the house for us to try. I love artichokes and I thought that these were delicious, but the rest of the party are not real artichoke fans so they did not enjoy them as much. We also ordered the calamari. This was not the best calamari I have ever eaten, but it was tasty and not too chewy, so it definitely gets a passing grade.

After the appetizers we ordered a caesar salad and the seafood soup special. The salad was good, but I would not necessarily come here for a great caesar salad; but most importantly, the lettuce was fresh.  For propriety’s sake I really cannot repeat what his exact descriptive words were in this blog, but the soup was so good that Tommy would not even let his wife taste it.

For dinner I ordered the chicken picatta which was served over pasta. While the sauce was creamier than I expected, the portion was very large and it was really quite tasty. I loved that the chicken was pounded thin and not overcooked which added to the better melding together of the flavors.

My husband took the waiter’s advice and ordered the super out of this world special seafood lasagna. When it was brought out to the table he was less than impressed because it did not look super appetizing or like much food. But after his first bite he was won over. The seafood was cooked perfectly and the taste was amazing. And even though it was a smaller portion, he could not finish it because it was so deliciously rich.

Pam ordered the eggplant parm. I am a huge fan of eggplant, but others, not so much so this is not a menu item that I would suggest just anyone order. She thoroughly enjoyed her meal as I am sure anyone would who was an eggplant fan too.

Laura ordered the Tortellini al Forno. When they brought the plate over it was bigger than she was. Even though she ate a good portion of her food she hardly made a dent in it so she had lunch and dinner for the next day too. This dish was a mixture of tortellini and vegetable tossed with a delicious tomato cream sauce and topped with mozzarella. Delish!

Tommy ordered the fettucini alfredo which was creamy and absolutely decadent and delicious.

Brian ordered chicken parm. Not a fancy meal, but well prepared and delicious. The chicken was pounded thin and prepared perfectly melding perfectly with the sauce and cheese.

We were all so full that none of us wanted dessert, but Pam and I decided to split a cannoli because we both adore them. So a few of us ordered coffee and enjoyed the Sicilian dessert which was one of the best cannolis on the island, and I am a cannoli connoisseur.

I did not realize that they also do a breakfast here, so I will have to put that on my must try list.

This is a great choice for a delicious Italian meal. We did not have reservations and we only had to wait for about a minute for a table. Try it out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner while you are visiting the island.

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.

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.

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

Island Genn
Key West Concierge

Square One | Review

Shrimp with Risotto at Square One

Shrimp with Risotto at Square One Restaurant

Located in Duval Square, this upscale restaurant opened since 1988 was purchased by new owners this year. Chef Dominique styles the food at the new Square One as New American, incorporating Mediterranean, Latin, and Asian influences into a mostly French cuisine. I could not believe all of the choices on the menu which was both pleasing and daunting. I loved all of the options: meat, seafood and vegetarian. But I had a difficult time picking out what I wanted because it all sounded so delicious.

Our waiter John was very personable and had a firm grasp of the menu and the specials for the evening. Originally from the Northeast, he has been in Key West for almost a year, fresh from living on another chain of islands far away; the Hawaiian Islands. But I digress… Besides being personable John was a wonderful waiter, very attentive and we were never left wondering where he was.

The fried calamari was ordered as an appetizer. It was served with three different dipping sauces, and I thought them all bland. But we were brought out cocktail sauce that worked well enough to balance the lightly fried seafood. The calamari itself was good; I would have really liked a marinara dipping sauce to have come with this dish though.

I ordered the spinach salad, and in all honesty, I really don’t care for spinach salad normally but the menu description sold me on it. And I am glad that it did because the mix of fresh spinach, tomatoes, red onions, candies walnuts, apples, blue cheese crumbles, and a light balsamic vinaigrette dressing was sublime.

Cannoli Cake at Square One

Cannoli Cake at Square One

Tommy ordered the Caesar salad sans anchovies and it was awesome. It was well dressed without being soggy and the home made croutons added a nice crunch to the garlicy salad.

For dinner Pam got the vegetable risotto which was creamy and delicious with just enough vegetables to add a nice compliment to the arborio rice.

Tommy order the stuffed pork chop after much deliberation. When it was brought out it was enormous and none of us thought that he would finish it, but he did. It was cooked perfectly throughout and was tender to boot which was a welcome surprise given that rarely happens with such a thick cut. The filling of spinach and cheese was a delicious pairing to the succulent chop.

My husband Steven (the seafood pasta connoisseur) ordered, you guessed it, seafood pasta. The shrimp, scallops, clams and mussels were gently cooked and seasoned, served over al dente linguine tossed in a light sauce of lemon, garlic, and basil.  Yum!

As an entree I ordered the Shrimp with Risotto which was very good. The shrimp were seasoned and cooked perfectly and paired well with the creamy risotto garnished with yummy pesto and olives.

The nice thing about the risotto dishes, which was one of the reason us girls decided to go with this option, was that while they were delicious and filling, it was just the right amount of food to eat without feeling like we overate, allowing for us to partake in dessert.

Key Lime Pie at Square One

Key Lime Pie at Square One

We got a Key Lime Pie and a Cannoli Cake. I have to admit that my Italian heritage really showed it self when I saw the Cannoli Cake on the menu. I am pretty sure that I screamed with excitement over this. I am not a huge Key Lime Pie fan, but it was not bad although a bit too tart for my taste. The Cannoli Cake was not exactly what I was expecting taste wise, but it was delicious nonetheless. Very light and creamy and I loved the candied orange on top.

I forgot to mention the seating. Because the weather was absolutely perfect, we opted to sit outside. I was a little bummed that I did not bring Indiana Bones with us since he could have joined us on the patio, but we will save that for another time. We did not even go inside, but from the glimpses that I caught of the interior dining area it looked to be beautifully decorated. The only negative about eating outside was the random squawks of the parrots in the Duval Square Courtyard. Luckily the birds were somewhat removed from us and we already knew that they were there so we were prepared for some noise.

I have to say that this was one of the most enjoyable downtown dining experiences we have had in a very long time. Add to that the location of Duval Square with free parking on site being a huge bonus, and I think that Square One just might be our new go to restaurant for special occasions (last night was our eighth wedding anniversary).

Square One is open every evening for inner at 5:30 PM or just prior to dinner you may enjoy Happy Hour with discounted drinks from 4 to 5:30 PM.

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