I thought mine was a brilliant idea, and as usual seeking out new things to try and Gary visiting from Nashville was nothing loathe so we arranged to meet at a place called the Key West Pub. This corner spot on the 1100 block of Duval has been a lot of things a piano bar, a southern restaurant and now a sandwich shop apparently.
I looked at the outside menu and saw a list of these sandwiches that have become absurdly popular and frankly I'm not sure why. Sliders I told Gary who hadn't previously met them, are small hamburger buns thus tripling the amount of bread you eat. Besides a menu that advises anything cooked "...to perfection," annoys me as it implies that getting food done right is above and beyond what a customer might otherwise expect. If you aren't cooking things properly all the time don't draw attention to yourself.
We were looking for something other than fresh buns, as though stale buns might be an option, secret recipes, and signature dishes and luckily I spotted another yellow building over Gary's shoulder. Banana Café French Bistro Key West, has been on Duval Street for donkey's years, in one location or another. This spot has held up well, you can eat upstairs on the terrace or down in the airy sunny dining room. I chose indoor seating...
...but we ended up perched perfectly between indoor shade and outdoor airiness. Iced tea and conversation flowed. Gary visits the Galleon for a few weeks every year and does those things most residents forget to carry out in the daily ebb and flow of life, which is take Key West at face value. As he says Nashville is a great place to live only lacking an ocean. And I have to confess I haven't been doing a good job of enjoying the water myself, so Gary has me there. He looked pleased about that even as I explained my boat should be seaworthy soon and I will be boating once again.
As we waited for our tomato and basil soup I imparted a swimming secret after Gary confessed he got a pair of rubber gardening shoes suspiciously resembling my Crocs. He said they are brown in color and surprisingly comfortable (he could have asked me and spared himself years of self denial) and I told him to try swimming in them. He looked surprised but agreed to the experiment. Swimming in Crocs is excellent as they provide just enough effort-free vertical flotation to prevent drowning.
We ordered crêpes which French menu Gary finessed by pointing, thus letting us pretend for a moment we were in Martinique under a properly tropical Francophone sun. My cream sauce and peppercorns hid a robust fully cooked hamburger after I advised the server I prefer my meat properly dead, not bloody and wriggling the way the French devour it. Gary had a Norwegian crepe filled with smoked salmon which he pronounced toothsome.
Then we sat back with strong iced tea and discussed local politics, Gary's interest always piqued by the way Key West seems to dis-function . I have opinions to spare so that was okay. I brought up the Facebook stuff that has been bugging me and he had wise advice on that front, roughly to the notion that electronically speaking we are pretty much screwed when it comes to privacy, and not to set too much stock by social media as a source of serious communication.
So then we pulled ourselves together, swept aside the crumbs and stepped out into the heat of a proper June afternoon. Martinique it's not, luckily for us, but the sun felt tropical enough.