Little Pearl, Key West

The envy-inducing tuna brulée.

The tiny, sometimes frenetic, lovely space that formerly housed Seven Fish is now Little Pearl. Although the decor has changed somewhat, and the menu is new, the place still has that familiar vibe I have always loved.

Tucked away from the crowds on the corner of Olivia and Elizabeth Streets, in the heart of Old Town Key West, Little Pearl has been busy since they opened their doors in February. The owners have several other popular restaurants around town, so they were busy from the get-go. We went in on a quiet Friday night recently.

As we enjoyed the wine and pondered the menu, I started nibbling on the piping hot bread and perfectly soft butter. This is another place with perfectly melty, smooth, yummy butter. The bread is just a conduit. While I don’t get excited about oysters, my friend enjoyed every last slurpy one. On the other hand, I dug right into the sake steamed littleneck clams. Delish. The last app, enjoyed by FKGuy and our friend, as I glared in a jealous rage, was the tuna brulée. Raw, spicy tuna, with a bit of mayo, topped with cucumber, sesame, wasabi caviar, and an egg yolk. Oddly, there was no crunchy top like you’d expect from a “brulée”. If the eggs didn’t hate me so much, I could have eaten the entire bowl of it. Instead, I seethed at my misfortune between mouthfuls of buttery clams.

Our main courses included local swordfish in miso butter, seared tuna with bok choy, and I enjoyed the appetizer portion of the giant prawns in a spicy tomato sauce. All were delicious, perfectly cooked and seasoned. Bonus: I enjoyed my prawns so much I barely had a bite of anyone else’s food. I also stopped wallowing in my lack of egg eating, if just for a moment.

We loved the food and the fact that the swordfish was $22 on the menu. It’s hard to get fresh fish at that price. On the other hand, the tuna appetizer was $18, so overall it ends up being a pricey meal.

Bottom line: Both food and service are very good, and worth a visit. Little Pearl is located at 632 Olivia Street in Key West, and it is small. If you go, make an advance reservation.