I love getting feedback from readers (even when I’m told I have no idea what I am talking about.) I have received a few emails recently that I’d like to share with you. If you have a question or comment that you want answered in a future mailbag, please email me or use the contact page. I will answer any and all that are relevant (read: not terribly offensive).
I recently had this exchange with reader B.L.:
BL: Dear FKG: What are your favorite wine stores in Key West, and which restaurants do you recommend most for BYOB?
Me: Thanks for reading… As for wine shops, prices are generally high in Key West, especially as compared to Miami or anywhere else on the mainland. That being said, White Tarpon (next to A&B Lobster house) has a reasonable selection. I am not a fan of Grand Vin. Vino’s and Cork & Stogie are both great wine bars, but again the to-go selection tends to trend expensive!
As for restaurants, here are some of my favorite corkage-friendly ones:The Flaming Buoy ($15 corkage), Azur ($15), Thai Life ($5), La Trattoria ($15), Santiago’s Bodega (either $10 or $15, not sure on that one!), Salute on the beach ($15, but crappy glasses… but it is right on the beach!)
Louie’s Upperdeck is good for small plates and wine, but they do not allow corkage. Also, non-wine related, the Orhcid Key Bar in the Orchid Key Hotel on Duval has awesome drinks.
BL: Just a quick note; we got back from our trip yesterday. We had very good dinners at Azur, 915, and Cafe Sole, and good breakfast at Sarabeth’s. We really enjoyed the retro bar at Orchid Key!
Much as I am not in love with Cafe Sole and am on boycott of Sarabeth’s – (they were really mean to Florida Keys Guy’s 85-year-old grandmother. It was a while ago, she is now 98, but I hold a grudge) – I do love when people take my suggestions and enjoy them, and when folks explore on their own!
Next up, from reader F.F., with whom I have had many exchanges about bad service:
FF: Our first pick was the Blue Mojito bar at the Hyatt Key West, because we had a $25.00 gift card; the reason I had the gift card was because they messed up a lunch I had attended a month ago, (nice gesture) the SHOR restaurant is also here, where I stopped by this past weekend and was turned away because they had a ten top coming in at the same time and I was a walk in, their words not mine.
We sat at the bar, 1 other person was there, we waited about 8 minutes and didn’t see the bartender, so we got up and walked around and there she was, on the phone. The cushions in the lounge area had not been arranged since lunch, cushions on the floor etc.. Once our drinks were made she promptly asked how we would like to pay, ( I despise this) , I asked for a twist, and they cut them how I prefer, but it was cut at least 2 days ago, this is just not acceptable for a 12.00 drink, so we gave her our card finished as quickly as possible and left.
Me: And this is why I like Orchid Key Bar for a civilized drink. I should probably stop writing about it, though, as it will undoubtedly start getting really crowded.
FF: We then went on to A & B Lobster House, we were a little early and the 3 Hostesses were pretty, but there was not a welcoming feeling upon arrival. We had requested a front balcony table, which was granted – actually one of the best. I knew our server so that went well. Service very good, ambience was perfect. Now on to the menu and wine list: this restaurant is not inexpensive by any means, the problem is the food is all prepared with sauce sauce sauce, which they were nice enough to put on the side. I ordered the Boullabaise which was quite tasty, but all of the fish, especially the shrimp was over cooked!
Butter is always hard when served!
Me: A pet peeve of mine… just take the butter out of the fridge for a few minutes. It’s not so complicated. Everyone would rather have gooey butter than impossible-to-spread butter.
FF: Caesar salad really isn’t anymore! We asked for the bite of Key Lime Pie, which again they did and split it on 2 plates, (NICE), but again it definitely was not the best in town.
The wine list is all American, and a restaurant that claims to be one of the best in town, that is unacceptable, pricing was ok, but the lower end wines at 32.00 cost 4.00. My point being is that the attention to detail is at a low, and it is time to give the customer what we deserve.
Me: As you know, overpriced wine lists are one of my biggest pet peeves – even more than the butter thing – and that is why I generally bring my own. Not because I am cheap, but rather, I have a better selection in my cellar than most restaurants.
Do you have a burning question or story you’d like to share? Contact me and maybe it will be included in a future mailbag.