Our visitor said I want to take you guys out to dinner. Okay my wife said and got us reservations at six o'clock right after my shift ended. Which is how we ended up at Café Marquesa. We walked in and I realized I did not even have a mask in my pocket. Only the staff were masked and the diners, all adults, were one supposed, like us vaccinated.
You can imagine the emotions, sitting down and being waited on like we were people who mattered, talking about this and that, it was all banal and normal and profoundly changed. A quick zip to get us started, amusing our mouths:
We came to the café years ago and found the experience profoundly unsatisfactory, a snobbish affair and not at all welcoming. The pity of it is that was an age ago and obviously everything has changed, in this town change is the constant and we have deprived ourselves of the possibility over the years of a special night out.
The food was excellent, not salty, not gimmicky but also not quite normal. I don't normally eat shrimp and grits with broth but after this example I wish I did. Layne had friend green tomatoes which she loves for some reason only here they came with smoked swordfish:
I joked it was an upscale tuna fish sandwich (which I really like in normal life) but once again the odd mixture of ingredients made the dish special. Therese had oysters Rockefeller, a classic made perfect and creamy and not overly overdone. Sharing was the order of the night of course as my wife says sharing food is an unwritten marriage vow.
I've never had flash fried osso buco before, but the chef explained the meat is brined and marinated before being fried and naturally the meat fell of the bone. Layne likes duck and she found hers with - not an orange sauce but cherry!- the best she's had....It was the theme of the evening.
Therese ordered Sancerre to drink and scallops to eat which were of course perfect and we spent two hours dawdling like the good old days.
If Café du Monde in New Orleans could produce beignets like these I would be happy, but they don't. These are soft and vanilla flavored, airy doughnut balls perfect to end a meal on. Therese gave us the history lesson them and said they were developed as siege food when all other ingredients ran out and only oil and flour were left. My kind of starvation diet.
Because we had gone mad, or perhaps because Therese started out dinner with a brandy (wild woman) we ordered three puddings including a pot of chocolate and a slice of Key Lime Pie, properly tart. There used to be a lady in the Torch Keys who made pies for Parrotdise the restaurant that went away and she made the best Key Lime Pie in the Keys (fighting words). This has to be a close contender to win that title. Who would have expected that in a place like this? Fishermen's food made right.
Even the toilet had me fascinated studying this contact sheet of photos from Havana I'm guessing.
Worth a visit. Definitely.
Walk it off!
A serene yet breezy evening in Key West.