Eating was the side project while attending talks at Key West Literary Seminar in January. Regulars in Key West know all the places from dive to high-end, there being no actual secrets in a small town. Our friend in Key West brought us to one of the newer spots - small, relaxed and way off Duval ("way off Duval" being code for no drunken walk-ins, etc.) but the little place is hardly under wraps since The New York Times featured it in 36 Hours in Key West (www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/travel/09hours.html?_r=1).
The Flaming Buoy Filet Co (1100 Packer St - at Virgina St - 305-295-7970) serves local fish and lobster in an island-style dining room with an outdoor feel. Hogfish, black grouper and Florida lobster graced the menu for our visit, along with a few staples - one being a modern version of black bean soup. Short menu, much attention to detail. Our fish were served with fresh mango salsa, really good mashed potatoes and other vegs.*
The dessert list is also short, contains nothing tacky, and is tempting. One choice: a sweet tortilla filled with a thin layer of dark chocolate spiced with red pepper, cut in triangles and served with vanilla ice cream. Satisfied the chocolate urge without bludgeoning it. Nice.
The fresh fish, prices, service, atmosphere, and off-the-strip location merged for a just-right dinner.
*Several entrees come with Florida corn roasted in the husk, spiced and buttered. It looks terrific on the plate but, like many New Englanders, I'm a corn snob so you know I couldn't love it.