Sunday, December 12, 2010


I had been thinking for a while that I wanted to go check out Sparky's in Key Colony Beach. I finally got there.My wife had mentioned having lunch there together before she went Up North for her conference, but her car break down killed that plan. While she was away I snuck off up the Keys for some out of town dog walking and camera work so I took advantage and dropped off at this restaurant made famous in Trip Adviser. The signs for the restaurant are a bit subtle if you are new around here. Look for the charter boat row alongside Sadowski Causeway, the only road into Key Colony beach off Highway One, and there it is hidden behind a tree.Trip Adviser people tend to be monotonously repetitive in their recommendations, the whole service isn't, in the end, designed to push the adventurous choices and I wondered if this place would come up to billing. Often visitors to the Keys seem to like the atmosphere more than the food and frankly I'd rather eat good food in a crappy ambiance than vice versa. I tried ordering stuff I might not normally eat, being as how I wanted to take risks and the conch chowder was quite excellent.It wasn't salty but it was creamy and filled with pieces of potato and conch. I am not a great fan of mollusks but in a chowder conch done right is better than clam in my opinion, and this was done right, firm but not chewy the conch gave great texture to the soup. The iced tea was also well worth drinking. It was tannic enough without forcing the point and my server did a good job of keeping the glass filled. She also recommended the pasta salad made with oil not mayo to accompany the fish fingers.It was really a simple meal done well and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The pasta was firm, the dressing wasn't greasy and the fish fingers made a decent portion without being overwhelming. The fish was flaky and the fried crust was not the bland stuff I've had elsewhere. It was crunchy and all of it made a great lunch out of simple ingredients. I wondered how good dessert would be but I didn't want to make a pig of myself.I took a table at an angle to the ever irritating TVs but there were lots of seating choices- too cold to sit outside and I didn't want to sit at the bar. There also appeared to be a separate dining room near the front of the building done up in bright colors. I liked the main room, all dark wood and funky decorations. The bar tender/host greeted me cheerfully and Blondie did a bang up job of serving me my lunch.
I paid fifteen bucks plus tip and thought this was a place I am going to bring my wife to on our next outing. In summer I'd love to sit out and overlook the water:I am confident whatever I pick off the board will work out well. They apparently do shrimp by the bucket for happy hour too.
Charterboat Row next door looks just like the one in Key West's Garrison Bight Marina.Cheyenne had just completed her first long walk of the day with more to come as we explored the Middle Keys. The air temperature was 63 so she was enjoying the sun in the back of the car in the strong north winds.Sadowski Causeway, the only road in and out of Key Colony Beach, named for the developer who created the city.For more on Key Colony Beach this is the essay I wrote in 2008 and re-posted earlier this year:


RichardM said...

It looks like a nice pleasant place. I want to try conch chowder sometime. The weather looks a little bit better than your last post. Is the flavor of conch similar to clams?


Conchscooter said...

Conch is like abalone. ie: it tastes like bicycle inner tubes steeped in the flavor of the day. Buffalo Bill like raw Conch marinated in citrus. I would rather eat crushed glass though In have no doubt next year he'll corner me at Goombay and make me eat the stuff.
In the chowder the rubbery tough texture of the Conch was beaten out of it and it absorbed the creamy soup giving it meat texture rather than flavor.
Think of a raw oyster you have to chew and you get the idea.
Please don't ask me to recount acts of butchery required to kill the ppor defenseless shells.
Just go to Sparky's instead: you will like the place.

Jason said...

Love your blog and all the great photographs. Came across your blog as I was researching for our upcoming trip to the Keys. As a former 911 dispatcher, I also enjoyed your posts about dispatching! Cheers and thanks for all the great photos.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Conchscooter:

I too prefer a dumpy, tumble-down exterior that masks a host of culinary delights... And I have a hankering for conch chowder. There is someplace around here that serves conch chowder and conch salad, but I'm damned if I can think of it.

The rain is coming down in sheets at the moment, though at 52ยบ (F) today will be the warmest day of the week. Sonw flurries are expected tomorrow, ad the damp roads will be great for black ice. But I am going out for a run on Wedneday to a Cajun place. No conch, but plenty of alligator and crawdads.

Close enough.

The K75 is sleeping on the battery tender... Pulse steady... All lights in the green.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad

Conchscooter said...

Dear Jaosn, forget island sin the stream. get to have and to have not if you wantt o read about key west rather than the bahamas.there's a permanent opening it seems at the key west 911 center. stop by for a tour.
riepe you mellow dog.I fear your next note will be double the usual pain for me this one was so...gentle.

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