Sunday, February 17, 2019

RAMBLINGS & RECIPES - Chef Michael's Restaurant in Islamorada, Florida

My husband, bless his heart, gets preoccupied with so many other things that he sometimes forgets things like Valentine's Day (sigh). This year, since I didn't want to be disappointed with last minute plans, unable to get in to any decent restaurants and ending up ordering pizza, I took control and made reservations weeks in advance for one of the nicer restaurants in Islamorada... Chef Michael's. I had been wanting to try this place out and I am so glad I was finally able to do so.

Parking is somewhat limited, and we weren't quite sure what to do, but a gentleman with a big smile came out to show us the "special" parking space by the mailbox that no one ever sees. Yay!! 

We were greeted outside by super friendly hostesses who checked our reservation and then took us inside to be seated.  Our waitress, Laura, was fantastic! She immediately arrived at our table to take our drink order... even though it took me awhile to peruse the extensive wine list! I finally settled on a White Zinfadel that was quite nice.

The appetizer of Tempura Lobster Tail was crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and served with Coconut and Red Curry Sauce. One order consists of two nice sized pieces, plenty for two people to share.

And then our dinner arrived! I had ordered the Seafood Pasta and it was served in a huge bowl. I decided to not count calories tonight because the pasta was covered in a rich, basil cream sauce, seasoned wonderfully. It had huge sea scallops and even bigger Key West pink shrimp. I even detected more lobster in it as well. There was no way I could eat all of this, especially after devouring some of the amazing bread. The basket contained three different kinds of dinner rolls. One was plain, one was multi-grain with seeds, and the third was olive bread. Instead of a little saucer of olive oil, like many restaurants serve, Chef Michael's provides a little bowl of olive oil mixed with so many herbs (parsley, basil, garlic, cilantro, and I'm not sure what else) that you have to spoon it onto the bread.

Rick had ordered the Hogfish Pontchartrain, which consisted of a nice piece of hogfish, lightly blackened and covered in crawfish and shrimp in a piquant Creole sauce. It was served with grilled vegetables and rice. The vegetables must have been good because Rick actually ate them.

The desserts looked amazing but my stomach was so full from the delicious dinner that I just couldn't eat another bite.  Next time... I'm saving room for the 7-layer carrot cake... or maybe the Creme Brûlée with Tahitian vanilla... or maybe the Chocolate Toffee Mousse Cake. So many decisions.

Next time you are in Islamorada, make a reservation to eat at Chef Michael's. You will not regret it!

Chef Michael's is located at Mile Marker 81.6 on the Oceanside, just off the main highway on the "Old Road"

Hogfish Adriatic
By Chef Michael Ledwith

4­ six-ounce portions of fresh hogfish
Salt and pepper, to taste

Adriatic Sauce
1⁄2 cup fresh cilantro
1⁄2 cup fresh flat leaf parsley
1⁄4 cup fresh basil leaf
2 cloves garlic
1⁄2 cup good olive oil
2 tablespoons “Fire Cider”
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper

Make the sauce. 
In a food processor, add all of the ingredients for the sauce and puree until smooth.
Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
If the sauce is too thick, slowly add more olive oil.
Serve the sauce at room temperature. The sauce stays well in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Grill the Fish (The fish can be grilled or pan seared.)
Have your grill hot and clean.
Lightly season fish with salt and pepper.
Lightly coat fish with canola oil.
When fish is done, transfer to serving plate, lightly top the fish with Adriatic sauce.
Served with a lemon wedge, steamed seasoned quinoa and grilled asparagus.

Chef Michael’s is located at 81671 Overseas Highway, in Islamorada (halfway between Mile Markers 81 and 82), and is open for dinner daily and brunch on Sunday.


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