Friday, July 24, 2009


The tourist trade still looks busier than you might think in Key West, though there are caveats to the financial well being one might expect from all the traffic there is still in town. The lodging association reports beds are still getting slept[t in though the nightly rates have dropped considerably from the crazy flights of the boom years. Restaurants still put knees under tables but patrons are choosing cheaper and sharing more, and everyone is running specials of one sort or another... These are hard times and I've noticed at night that Duval Street is wrapping it up early because this is family time, kids are out of school and bar flies just aren't there to get in trouble and start drunken fights and all the nastiness associated with winter revelers. In addition to being the times that try men's souls, these are also the times that favor established businesses and well known, reliable providers.
Thus it was that on my wife's first trip into town following shoulder surgery we met friends at Azur, a café that describes itself as Mediterranean in style and which my wife and I had never previously visited. The weather was crap outside and I previously published pictures of the down pour that accompanied our return home, but inside the restaurant offered a pleasant contrast to the gray outside, warm wooden floors and serene blue decor and a fascinating menu: Frankly I thought Carole's effort to be "good" yielded the least interesting result, a light and colorless frisee and endive salad with some olives and an appearance bland enough I didn't bother to taste it. This next one was my wife's $9 flat bread with lamb and it was as delicious as it looked:
If my wife's lamb had Eastern overtones, Kathy's flat bread was what I called the Jewish Mediterranean plate, based on lox and cream cheese:
My choice was perhaps not so adventurous but I enjoyed every bite of a fresh and genuine old favorite:
While I choose the Caprese sandwich, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes in proper Italian style, the idea was to share, as my wife says sharing food is part of the marriage vows in the Jewish culture. However, it turns out sharing ain't necessarily so if you've got the lamb flat bread and your husband has the very serviceable but not as alluring dish...but at least I got a taste of hers and she admitted my sandwich was entirely delicious, just not as delicious as hers.
The service was attentive and not intrusive which is how I like it and we got all the iced tea we could have wanted (this was a working day for half the table). I was tempted to ask for a glass of milk to see how the French waitress would take such an outlandish American request, but I was trying to be on my best behavior, so I refrained. I think she would have coped just fine actually. Azur, which is on Grinnell at Fleming, offers breakfast all day and they have lots of standard egg dishes and pancakes along with Key Lime Pie (! for breakfast!!) or something called sweet Portuguese bread and even carbonara pasta (yes! for breakfast!!). It wasn't the day to eat outdoors but we will be back because this place has shot to the top of our short list of interesting, value packed places to eat. And it has a cozy bar to boot:
Furthermore to keep the interest up they offer various special deals to keep one coming back. Too bad they just closed the two-for-one breakfast deal this week. Pasta and Key Lime Pie for the price of one would have been decadence in high gear.