Salute! on the Beach, Key West, Florida

What a great place!  I mentioned it a couple of years ago in passing here, where I sang there praises of there yellowtail snapper, and I can’t imagine a trip to Key West without going to Salute.  (It’s an Italian restaurant, so Salute! (cheers!) is pronounced in three syllables.)  So off we all went, Nancy and I, David and Sue (Boyd, our co-grandparents), and Liza and Michael with the stars of every show, Ella (almost 3! and Lily (almost 9 months!).

Salute isn’t what I’d call a fancy place.  The exterior is aggressively nondescript, at least with the screens down.

salute ext

But that’s just the entrance.  The real front of Salute, though, is the beach.  You sit inside with a lovely open view of the Atlantic, the setting sun, and passersby.  At lunchtime you see the Atlantic, sunbathers, and volleyball players.  It’s a nice combination of natural beauty and people-watching.  Don’t you wish you were there?

salute view

Service at Salute is prompt and friendly.  The bar did an excellent job of mixing my usual cocktail, Makers Mark on the rocks, and the more elaborate cocktails of others — Salute! — and the wine list has good wines at reasonable prices.  All of that is well and good, but the real attraction is the food — which also is quite reasonable for the quality and location.

I mentioned the yellowtail snapper.  For those who aren’t familiar with Gulf seafood, if it says “snapper”, it’s good, at least if you’re near the Gulf.  And around Key West, the snapper to get is yellowtail.  Salute’s menu lists it as “Sautéed Yellowtail Snapper with lemon cream sauce and spinach.”  Actually, it’s more of a very light lemon sauce, as you can see,

salute yellowtail

with nary a hint of cream as far as I could see (which is a big plus right after Christmas).

Now, look at the size of that serving.  Ample, no?  Ah, if you could only taste it.  You’ll also note the roasted and seasoned potatoes, and the very lightly sautéed spinach.  That, my friends, is one great plate of food.

I believe Sue also went with the yellowtail.  David, who’s been around the menu a time or two, ordered two appetizers: some great-looking sautéed diver scallops with ciabatta crostini with onion and red pepper, followed by mussels steamed in white wine, lemon, and garlic.  Nancy had the grouper special with a very nice polenta cake and — my notes read “sakk L.J. ad.”  I have no idea.  Sakajawea?  Some kind of vegetable, anyway.  I know the grouper was especially good because she didn’t offer me any.

Michael ordered the pasta and seafood special (actually seafood and pasta), and Liza had … the yellowtail? …  the grouper?  Eating often gets in the way of my reporting.  Ella probably had chicken nuggets, and Lily had her current favorite: the crusty end of a loaf of French bread.  Everyone enthusiastically did justice to their respective meals, and it was an overall wonderful dinner, with great food, great conversation, great service, and great views.  I love the place.

Sue tells me that Salute’s lasagna is sensational, and I trust Sue’s judgment.  She’s from New Orleans, after all, and a great cook in her own right.  Salute has a number of other traditional Italian entrees and appetizers, and I’m sure they’re great.  After the Thanksgiving-to Christmas Overeating Season, not to mention my extensive, ongoing barbecue research, however, my wardrobe is steering me away from lasagna.  And the yellowtail at Salute is oh, so good.  Just between the two of us, I never seriously considered anything else.

I’ve designated Salute as a Top Place.  If you are in or anywhere near Key West — and if you aren’t, you should be — go there.


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