Dining away on impressive fare from the sea at Key Largo



Where: 120th Street and Coastal Highway, (410) 723-4200

Hours: Dinner starting at 4:30 p.m. daily

Credit cards: Accepts all major credit cards

Key Largo's pink stucco building rises out of the architectural blandness of the other buyildings along Coastal Highway.

While the Key Largo Cafe is a popular nightspot known for its country music and dancing, the restaurant has its own identity. It's best characterized as a steakhouse with seafood.

The only music we heard in the dining area were soft piano compositions playing in the background.

I was wondering what kind of meal to expect from the pink castle at 120th Street and it turned out that my friend and I had a very satisfying meal at Key Largo. The staff is upbeat; our waiter was friendly and helpful; and we left the restaurant realizing that we had a good time.

We were seated in a sunny room with tile floors, wrought-iron chairs with padded seats and plenty of hanging plants.

On the menu, there are plenty of sea, reef and shore selections. In addition to the beef and chicken dishes, the menu offers fresh catches of the day, and dishes with crab, shrimp, scallops, oysters and mussels.

To start our meal, we had mushroom caps stuffed with crab imperial ($6.95) and conch chowder ($3.95). The mushroom caps were filled with a rich crab imperial that had nice, large lumps of crab. We decided the dish had a peppery taste.

The conch chowder was a thick, creamy broth with chunks of conch along with mixed vegetables. At first, the soup didn't seem spicy, but after several spoonfuls, we realized there was a cumulative effect and that it was indeed zippy after all.

For main courses, we had the rockfish catch of the day ($14.95) and the sunset point chicken ($11.95). The grilled rockfish wasn't as flavorful as we would have liked, but it was served with fluffy white rice with bits of red and green peppers and steamed broccoli.

We couldn't resist ordering the sunset point chicken because it sounded so tropical. The tender chicken breast was served on a bed of white rice and was topped with a thick, sweet glaze and apples, pineapple and shredded coconut. I'm not used to having such sweet entrees, but I enjoyed the change and found it to be tasty.

The menu said the bread was homemade, and we liked the light, airy loaf we were served.

After dinner, the waiter brought a tray of tempting deserts to the table. We decided to try the cheesecake ($3.95) that had a chocolate caramel sauce on top of a creamy filling and the carrot cake.

Several restaurants in Ocean City offer carrot cake, so we decided to try this version ($3.95). The moist, dense cake had raisins and shredded carrot, and cinnamon was the predominate spice. It was topped with a creamy white frosting with walnuts sprinkled on top.

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