Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mangrove Mama's

The newspaper reported last week that the restaurant at Mile Marker 20 has new owners. Which on the face of it seemed like good news. The retardant was purchased by out of town owners a few years ago and things did not go well at this formerly renowned eatery.


Long time staff left and things bimbled along, more or less okay as seen from the outside. Then the enthusiastic new owners got column inches in the paper with the new owner quoted as saying he was tired of shoveling snow. That comment gained a certain level of unintended irony when the Key West Citizen followed up with a story that the new owner had to go "home" to Wisconsin to serve a 45 day sentence for possession of and dealing cocaine. Shoveling snow indeed.


Rick Ramsey for Sheriff proclaims the election billboard still up at the restaurant. I don't suppose the legal contretemps necessarily bodes ill for the restaurant that I would like to see restored to it's former cheerful glory, but it's well known that addictive personalities don't necessarily do well in the Keys where the culture of excess is carefully cultivated as eccentricity.


I hope Mangrove Mama's becomes a nice place to hang out, especially since Parrotdise is gone, but drink and drugs do not mix well with the hard graft needed to make an eatery work in these trying islands. A successful fresh start for all would be great. Fingers crossed and I hope they get Smithwicks on tap
as well.



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Dead Parrot

It has occurred to me I miss the former Parrotdise Restaurant.




This place filled a gap that has started to gape once again now it is gone, for good apparently.




News of the closure came as a surprise and the asking price for the waterside property came as even more of a surprise when the listing revealed a request for $3.2 million.




It's all as it was when the place was open which made the nostalgia even worse. Why nostalgia you ask? Good question.




Here's the thing: I think the Lower Keys, more specifically Cudjoe Key is home to the best restaurant in the islands, bar none. The Square Grouper never disappoints in food, wine service and decor. I think it is the best, most reliable value for money over any place to eat in Key West.




Parrotdise was no competition, indeed the night they closed my wife and I were tucking in to grouper and smoked pork at the Square Grouper. What worked brilliantly here was the concept of simple decent food without pretensions but with cheerful staff and nice views. They mixed a stiff drink and served draft Smithwick's even at happy hour. Can't fault that.



A nice view of Big Pine Channel made a simple meal delightful.





There are other eateries in the Lower Keys, bars with greasy food, diners with okay food and some less than okay. For the kind of impromptu not elaborate meal on a spur of the moment decision to eat out, nowhere brings the same elements together that Parrotdise had. The breakfast burger - a hamburger with egg- and a Smithwick's and bob was my uncle. No more.




Eating out involves paying for elaborate food with lots of calories as a break from being at home and it's a popular activity in the Keys, especially in winter when the old foges who have retired from cooking for their extended families demand out eating facilities. Sometimes I think they could be more discerning and expect more because too often I come away feeling like that meal was not good value for money.




The pace of change in these islands gets to be wearing especially if you come from a place where families and businesses hardy chance with the passage of generations. Here today gone tomorrow is the way of life so enjoy it while you can. And to lose a place that actually offered value for money is a drag.




The fact is change is inevitable and on that hoary worn out old chestnut I shall end this meditation on change not for the better.




Some other hopeful will come along and give it a go. May be it will be an improvement over Parrotdise.




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