TERRY’S PICKY PALATE / Soaking up the seafood at the Southernmost Beach Cafe

BY TERRY SCHMIDA
There’s something about beachfront dining that warms the cockles of this recovering Canadian’s heart.
For me, it’s one of the joys of living in this dynamic island paradise, (along with experiencing the live theater and arts scene, mingling with the cosmopolitan population, and admiring our flora, fauna, and charming architecture.)
And the best place to eat by the waves – especially seafood – may just be the Southernmost Beach Cafe, 1405 Duval St.
The waterfront atmosphere may be casual, but the menu is bursting with sophisticated yet satisfying cuisine worthy of a restaurant that is part of one of Key West’s largest hotel complexes, the Southernmost Beach Resort.
“A lot of people stop in because of the view, but find our food so memorable that they’ll return to eat here again and again,” Closing Manager Linda Tomasello said. “We offer a lot here, including super fresh local seafood. But if you like meat, we’ve got you covered there too.”
Since I was sitting at a table with a sweeping view of the Atlantic Ocean, I decided to test Tomasello’s assertion about the seafood, and let her surprise me with a fish-based appetizer, and entree.
While I waited, she suggested I sample a frozen Cafe Colada cocktail, made with Sailor Jerry Rum, pineapple juice, and coconut.
“We sell a lot of those,” Tomasello said. “It’s kind of our signature drink.”
My appetizer turned out to be the Ahi Tuna Stuffed Avocado, with cream cheese, Siracha aioli, and a sweet soy glaze, served an a bed of rice with ginger, seaweed, and more Siracha on the side.
This was a unique and delicious Asian-flavored dish that I’d definitely order again. The tuna was indeed ultra fresh, and a perfect complement to the tender avocado and the seasonings.
Tomasello suggested pairing this app with a 2015 Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc, from the Napa Valley which, as it turned out, would also be a good match for my entree: Blackened yellowtail snapper, with a Key lime beurre blanc, with sauteed baby carrots and zucchini, chives, and garlic.
This was another winner.
The very fresh fish was perfectly cooked and crispy on the outside, but not too spicy, and a perfect match for the tangy sauce. The veggies were surprisingly flavorful, and also benefited from a smattering of the beurre blanc.
The Fresh Catch is popular with many diners, Tomasello said, and whatever choices of fish are delivered that day can be prepared five different ways, providing a number of options that any seafood lover is sure to enjoy.
The next time I have a hankering for sublime fresh seafood in a sweet beachfront setting I know where I’m going to go.
And you should too!
The Southernmost Beach Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. daily. Happy Hour, featuring discounted drinks and selected dishes, takes place from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. Credit cards are accepted, and a locals’ discount is offered.
To make a reservation, or for more information, call 305-295-6550 or visit www.southernmostbeachcafe.com