Frita’s Cuban Burger | Review

I have walked by this tiny little eatery, located at 425 Southard Street, many times. After seeing a movie the other night, my husband and I along with our friends, Erik and Dianne, decided to try it out for a quick dinner. We were able to park just out front, which was nice.  As we approached the establishment, we weren’t sure if we were supposed to order out front or sit inside. Apparently, you can do either. So after walking in and sitting at a makeshift table (a drum with a piece of clear plastic on top) we began studying not only the menu but also the shabby chic interior. Okay, so it may have been more shabby than chic, but it did have the neat feeling of actually being in Cuba.

Shrimp burger at Frita’s

We started out by ordering homemade sangria. After about ten minutes we still had not seen the drinks and we were wondering if the language barrier had caused out order to be lost in translation. Of course, as soon as I asked about the drink order, they were finally brought over. The staff makes this drink to order, which explained the delay. Sangria is different everywhere you get it, and I did enjoy this version, although it was much less sweet than what I am accustomed to.

When the proprietress, who did speak perfect English and was very friendly, came over to take our food order, we all got different things. My husband ordered the traditional Cuban sandwich, I ordered the shrimp burger, Erik order the confused Frita (Frita Confundita), and Dianne ordered the traditional Frita burger. We also got two orders of french fries for the table.

In case you were wondering, a traditional Cuban sandwich consists of roasted pork, ham, swiss cheese, mustard and pickles on cuban bread which is then pressed and served warm. Steven ate his, but without much gusto. He thought it was a bit bland compared to the many other Cuban sandwiches that he has enjoyed in the past.

Burger at Frita’s.

My shrimp burger was a bit of a disappointment. It tasted fine, but it was literally a few fried shrimp on a big bun with cole slaw. I was truly expecting shrimp formed into a patty.

Erik’s confused burger was the Frita burger (beef and pork patty seasoned with garlic and spices, topped with onions, mojo pork, cole slaw, and crispy fried house julienne potatoes on a freshly-backed Cuban roll. After a few bites, he pronounced the burger interesting.

The fries were fresh cut, but they were soggy, not crispy.

For such a small place, their menu was pretty extensive. And I am not sure where they cooked it all as I could not tell where the kitchen was. I am not sure that I would come here again, but it was certainly a different experience.

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 sectionof 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

Bliss Restaurant Review

Grandma's shrimp at Bliss in Key West

Grandma’s shrimp at Bliss in Key West

Bliss has been on my radar for awhile, and this weekend my husband and I joined another couple for dinner at this small Columbian eatery on Petronia Street. I made reservations and was very glad that I did as the place was packed. And even though the space is small, we did not feel cramped.

The menu is filled with superlatives like “best sangria ever” and “best fresh guacamole ever.” We decided to try both in addition to our entrees.

We started with the red sangria; this had little tiny bits a fruit floating on top which did not look appetizing, but we braved a sip and it was delicious. Later on in the evening we tried the white sangria as well. This also had the tiny bits of fruit floating on top and proved to be equally delicious in a different way, and very fruity rather than dry like many white sangrias I have tried in the past.

The signature yellowtail snapper dish at Bliss in Key West.

The signature yellowtail snapper dish at Bliss in Key West.

For appetizers we ordered the “best fresh guacamole ever” and the Cartagena (shrimp and calamari sautéed in tomato basil broth with white wine and garlic and served with cheese bread). Both were incredible. And yes, the guac would certainly be in our top two! Both the guacamole and the chips were fresh and we ended up devouring the first order and getting another one. The seafood in the Cartagena was tender and delicious, with all of the flavors melding nicely together. The accompanying cheese bread was like a breadstick made of puff pastry with cheese rolled inside. This was quite tasty on its own and in combination with the seafood.

Unfortunately, they were out of the Mom’s casserole which I am assuming was because grouper season here in Key West is closed; so fresh, local black grouper is unavailable until May. The grouper is  baked in a béchamel sauce made with white wine, fresh fish broth and fresh herbs and topped with bread crumbs, parmesan and mozzarella cheese. It sounded heavenly and we will have to go back to try it this summer hopefully!  Both guys ordered Grandma’s shrimp while Laura ordered the fettuccine and I ordered the yellowtail snapper.

The columbian hot chocolate at Bliss in Key West.

The columbian hot chocolate at Bliss in Key West.

The yellowtail snapper is their signature dish. The fish is encrusted with a blend of Japanese bread crumbs, fresh herbs and a touch of parmesan cheese and pan seared, served with a light cream caper sauce, white rice and sautéed spinach. It was one of the best fish dishes that I have had in a restaurant. Again, the cream sauce was very light and was a nice addition to the fish.

The Fettuccini was tossed with fresh mushrooms, spinach and parmesan cheese. This was a tasty pasta dish and a perfect options for vegetarians, although you could add shrimp or chicken if you would like.

Grandma’s shrimp were sautéed in a light cream sauce with white wine, garlic, shallots, fresh mushrooms and fresh tomatoes and served with white rice. The shrimp were cooked perfectly and the cream sauce was delicious, yet light and did not overpower the delicacy of the shrimp.

The desserts sounded wonderful, but we were pretty full so we just ordered coffees and a Columbian hot chocolate to end the meal. The coffee was strong and rich and the hot chocolate was great and a dessert to itself.

Yes, we will be going back to Bliss again in the future. Not only was the food surprisingly good, but the service was too. The owner is involved in all aspects of the restaurant, from prepping the food and preparing the sauces to acting as hostess and waiting on tables.

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

Thirsty Mermaid | Review

Thirsty Mermaid Key West Scallops

Thirsty Mermaid scallops.

Walking around downtown last month I noticed a small, new restaurant on Fleming Street called the Thirsty Mermaid. This weekend we finally found the time to check it out for dinner. Right off the bat we loved the relaxed atmosphere and the coastal decor, and we were excited to try out some different things on the menu.

We started with the clam chowder with Maine lobster, corn and bacon. This was rich and delicious with the different flavors complimenting each other. And bacon makes just about everything taste great!

The island wedge salad was very good. A simple salad made delicious with the bacon and the maytag blue cheese. Also loved the addition of tomatoes to this for some color and more varied flavor.

Thirsty Mermaid Key West Burger

One of the three different burger choices at the Thirsty Mermaid.

The grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar, Monterey jack, brie, bacon and tomato was out of this world. The mixture of cheeses made it creamy and added extra depth to this sandwich. And the accompanying fries were thin and crispy and tasty with just the right amount of salt.

The good ol’ boy burger was a really great hamburger, topped with cheddar, bacon, onion, and tomato. And this was also served with yummy fries. (Do you see a trend here? We really like our bacon!)

Okay, so moving away from the bacon…

The gnocchi and short ribs were billed on the menu as being spicy, but there is just a hint of hotness, so even those that cannot tolerate spice will likely be able to enjoy this dish. The short rib meat was tender and combined nicely with the delicate gnocchi.

Thirsty Mermaid Key West grilled cheese

Thirsty Mermaid’s version of a grilled cheese sandwich.

The diver scallops were prepared perfectly. They were served with a corn relish and fingerling potatoes. The combination of the tastes was nice, but I would have liked for there to be a few more potatoes on the dish so that each bite of scallops could have been accompanied with both the relish and the potato flavor.

 

Thirsty Mermaid also has a nice wine and bar selection to choose from. For the four of us the bill came to a bit more than $150 with tip, so not outrageous. And the service was good as well. The is certainly a spot that we would dine at 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.

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