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

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

Seven Fish Restaurant Review

My husband and I decided that our Friday date night would be dinner at Seven Fish, and I was super excited! Thankfully, I called to make reservations. If I hadn’t, our date night would have been ruined as they only had two slots still opened! So the moral of the story is, make reservations if you are planning on eating here! When we arrived for our 6:00pm reservation, we were immediately taken to our table. I was amazed that the restaurant was already quite busy as they open at 6:00pm nightly!

I have always liked Seven Fish, but rarely did I go there because the building was so small and parking was impossible! Well, that is no longer an issue, as this staple Key West restaurant has just moved into their brand new building on 921 Truman Ave. After a two month construction delay, the owners finally decided to open. There are a few more finishing touches that still need completion, hopefully warming up the interior of the new, large, very modern and sleek building.

Sea Scallops served with mashed potatoes, pea puree, and spinach as served at Key West's Seven Fish.

Sea Scallops served with mashed potatoes, pea puree, and spinach as served at Key West’s Seven Fish.

Seven Fish had two sushi roll specials, one was spicy tuna and the other was baked grouper. We decided to try both. Since I like spicy food, the tuna was my favorite. The roll had a slightly creamy consistency, and there was a faint hint of onion paired with the fresh tuna. It was delicious. The grouper roll was my husband’s favorite, as the taste of fresh grouper prevailed, and he loves eating unadulterated, fresh fish. Each roll was presented in 5 pieces with the traditional wasabi, ginger, and soy sauce. Unfortunately, even though it was beautifully presented, I cannot share pictures since we dug in quickly and were gone before we knew it!

We then shared a very tasty small mixed green salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. This was served with a piece of delicious, hearty bread topped with salt, roasted garlic, and some spices.

The signature dessert at Seven Fish, strawberry whipped cream pie.

The signature dessert at Seven Fish, strawberry whipped cream pie.

For our entrees, we knew that we would order seafood, but there were so many choices. Typically, I order the crab and shiitake mushroom pasta which I love. However, I decided to go with something different this time, and was torn between the gnocchi with blue cheese and fish or the sea scallops over mashed potatoes, puree pea, and spinach. My husband is a Key West fishing guide, so I eat a lot of local fish already; I decided on the scallops.  Steven ordered seafood marinara pasta with grilled fish, baby clams, and shrimp. We were both very please with our choices.

My scallops were the best scallops I have ever eaten. They were cooked to perfection, and the flavors of the scallops with the potatoes, garlic, spinach, and peas was magical. This was so good, I am in danger of never eating anything else here ever again!

I traded one of my five scallops for a couple of bites of my husband’s seafood pasta dish. This was delicious and he loved it. Again, the seafood was cooked to perfection and the tastes of this mingled with the angel hair pasta and marinara sauce was yummy. And while I could taste oregano and other seasonings in the sauce, it did not overpower the seafood.

Even though we were full, we decided to try the restaurant’s signature dessert, the strawberry whipped cream pie. It is basically a graham cracker crust topped with chocolate and then topped with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. I love strawberries and cream and my husband loves chocolate and graham crackers, so we each had our favorite part of the pie that we ended up eating. If I had not been sharing, I would have ordered the Key lime cheesecake, so that will have to wait until next time to try!

By the way, the coffee that we had with dessert was amazing. Love capping off an amazing meal with a truly good cup of coffee.

I have been remiss in not mentioning the service until now. Simply put, it was great! Not only was everyone very friendly and helpful with suggestions, we never had to wait for drink refills or anything. On top of that, they all seemed genuinely happy to be at work which is something that I am not used to seeing at a lot of places. I loved that they were not over the top hovering over us or snooty like servers at some upscale restaurants can be. It was the perfect amount of pleasant attentiveness that helped to make the meal that much more enjoyable.

Seven Fish is a must try for anyone visiting Key West! So happy that they are back!

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

Key West Recipe Feedback

Florida Lobsters

Catching Lobsters In the Florida Keys. Here the Guys of Dream Catcher Charters pose with their catch.

I was going through my emails this morning and I received one about a particular recipe that I shared in the Food and Drink section of this blog. Appropriately enough, it was for my Shrimp and Lobster Pot Pie, and it is once again lobster season! Below is the email; check out the spin that Sue put on my recipe.

“My husband loves the shrimp & lobster pot pie recipe and I wanted to tell you about the “spin” I put on it. I love Red Lobster’s cheddar bay biscuits, so instead of making a pie crust I cover it with the biscuit dough and bake it for 15 minutes. It makes several casseroles so I freeze them and he eats them for lunch. Very, yummy!

Thank you for sharing the recipe,

Sue”

I would love to hear your feedback to my recipes of other blog posts as well, so please Email Me! I look forward to hearing from you!

ANd check out the rest of this blog for lots of Key West Information including restaurant reviews,  the Key West Events Calendar, and  things to do and see in our island city.

Island Genn
Key West Concierge