I’ve always been a consistent anti-window-shopping kind of guy, and the same goes for watching cooking shows (unless I have an emergency piece of lasagna waiting in the fridge, that is; it’s just pure torture to watch them on an empty stomach).

Two friends Key West

Blogger Greg Tromba (left) and his cohort Mike take readers on a gourmet journey in the island city.

Recently, with my T.V. viewing/couch surfing hours reaching an all-time high, I’ve been letting my taste buds motivate me to get a bit more mobile. So this past week, I got out and about and supported some of our fantastic Key West eateries.

My first stop was the Island House Resort at 1129 Fleming St. The all-male clothing-optional oasis offers an unprecedented 24-7 access to its food and beverage offerings. I invited my friend Mike along, and we biked over together for a refreshing pre-dinner swim and some happy hour cocktails.

The resort has added several additional tables around its enchanting tropical pool area to allow for proper social distancing. I decided to sit next to the glass fridge displaying the deliciously decadent cake and pie selections available for dessert. It’s the perfect visual reminder to definitely not overeat and save room for the last course — plus it’s my favorite table for maximum people-watching opportunities.

Our very welcoming (and handsome) servers for the evening were Paul and Sebastian, who both just happened to hail from Argentina. We decided to start off with my all-time favorite, the Antipasto Cutting Board (B.T.W., the “small” portion has plenty for two people).

The appetizer features ingredients including sliced prosciutto, mozzarella, basil, beefsteak tomatoes, olives and various other mouthwatering delights. The dish is served on ciabatta bread and drizzled with a balsamic glaze from heaven. My Italian relatives would undoubtedly describe this tasty selection as “molto delizioso.”

Dessert Key West Island House

Island House’s array of desserts is impossible to resist. Greg chose the sinfully sweet Chocolate Corruption (top left).

For our main course, Mike and I decided to share an order of the braised beef short rib in a red wine and herb reduction, served with Yukon gold mashed potatoes and sautéed veggies. This melt-in-your-mouth entrée  had us saying, “mmhhh, that’s so good!” from start to finish.

Finally, it was time to loosen my belt a notch and order a dessert. Mike and I agree on most things in life, but generally not sweets, so there was no sharing on this course.

Mike ordered Kermit’s Key Lime Pie, a truly delicious little slice of paradise (FYI, you can order from Kermit’s online and have a pie shipped from Key West to your home anywhere in the continental U.S.).

I went with the Chocolate Corruption, whose name says it all with its two layers of chocolate cake, chocolate filling and chocolate chips — iced with fudge frosting and topped with more white and dark chocolate chips.

A few days later, for stop two on my gourmet journey, I flew solo over to the Mediterranean (okay, so I actually just biked five minutes to a Mediterranean restaurant called Azur). Azur has also expanded its outdoor dining area to allow for a safe gastronomic experience for diners.

crab cake benedict Key West brunch

Azur’s brunch dishes, like the Crab Cake Benedict pictured here, entice diners to the out-of-the-way eatery.

This time I changed it up a bit and reveled in a scrumptious leisurely brunch. It’s the perfect excuse to have a mimosa before 5 p.m. (sorry, Mom!) while enjoying some of my favorite go-to dishes — like Azur’s Classic Eggs Benedict with sautéed spinach and smoked ham on grilled ciabatta bread (are you noticing a pattern here?) and smothered in an out-of-this-world hollandaise sauce.

I also ordered a side of eggplant chips drizzled with honey, which are so yummy that they could be considered a dessert.

Almost all of Key West’s restaurants are now open for indoor and or outdoor dining, though a few are still offering takeout service only. So when you’re on the island, I recommend calling ahead to confirm availability — or make a reservation online before arrival.  Bon Appétit!

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