Key Largo: good food in slow time


Key Largo is turquoise, peach, ceiling fans and palm trees -- very beachy and a great place to go for a hearty and flavorful vacation meal. Just allow plenty of time in case you get stuck with the waitress we had on a recent visit.

The menu promises steaks and seafood. We started with a tasty shrimp and crab casino ($5.50), beautifully presented on a silver shell of a plate. Baked in herb butter, the crab and shrimp were covered with mozzarella cheese and crisp bacon.

Our other appetizer was the soup of the day, Manhattan-style clam chowder ($2.95). It was thick, with an intriguing hint of something spicy -- maybe jalapeno pepper? We asked, but our waitress said rather haughtily that the kitchen doesn't divulge its ingredients.

Less of a mystery and more of a delight were the rolls that accompanied our meal. They were divine, with a melt-in-your mouth lightness. We would have loved more than one apiece, but couldn't track down the waitress to ask for seconds.

Since Key Largo boasts that it serves "the best prime rib east of Chicago," we ordered the petite cut (8 ounces for $10.95). Prime rib seems like such an indulgence in these cholesterol-conscious times that even this smallest order seemed huge and very fatty.

That's what makes it tender and juicy, though, and Key Largo's was delicious. It was served with a somewhat wimpy salad (a few leaves of iceberg with carrots and croutons thrown on for color) and a big, perfectly cooked baked potato.

Our other entree was more healthful and tasted better. The stuffed flounder ($15.95), which the menu promised would be "broiled to perfection," was. Mildly seasoned, it overflowed with an excellent lump crab imperial. It came with somewhat stringy asparagus and another monster-sized baked potato.

I'd love to tell you what was on Key Largo's dessert menu, but rather than brandishing a tray of tempting possibilities as another waiter did for his table, our waitress recited them laundry-list style, and got a little testy when we asked her to repeat the details.

We settled for the Key Lime parfait (velvety, with a graham cracker layer under the parfait and whipped cream) and a deliciously decadent concoction of cheesecake with a brownie crust and raspberry swirls throughout. Both seemed freshly made, but after waiting 20 minutes for the waitress to bring our check, we forgot to ask. Sigh.

Key Largo

120th Street and Coastal Highway, 723-4200.

Hours: 4:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. weekdays, 10 p.m. on Friday and 10:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Credit cards: American Express, MasterCard, Visa.

Reservations: Accepted.

Features: Seafood and steaks.

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