Monday, September 10, 2012

Rusty Pelican - Miami Spice

Wine Room

Welcome to the new Rusty Pelican 
There's something irresistibly comforting about walking into a familiar place after a while of being absent and seeing it is still the place you remembered. However, sometimes we have to take a leap of faith and embrace change to see where it takes us.  This is the route my next adventure took. The Rusty Pelican, located at 3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, in Key Biscayne, has gotten a nine million dollar face lift. Gone is the tropical feel, the ocean motif, and the rustic decor that has been a Miami landmark for 40 years.  In its wake, it has left a sleek, contemporary dining venue, with a trendy ambiance and an impressive wine room. This is the new and improved Key Biscayne seafood hot spot. The pelican ain't rusty no more.


By the firepit enjoying the view


Inside Dining Area
Outside Patio
If you're a Miamian, you can rewind a few years back and reminisce on the popular Rusty Pelican Sunday Buffet Brunches, the mouth-watering cheese bread, and the salad dressings that made us lick our silverware. Nine months ago, however, the Rusty Pelican reopened its doors after closing them for over 5 months to completely revamp the restaurant; from its interior layout and decor, to the food and beverage offerings. The place was so completely transformed, adding paneled walls and dark furnishings, it took me a few minutes to take it in. But it was nice; a sort of renaissance that I was nostalgic yet excited to embrace.


Incredible views

One thing remains exactly the same and that is the spectacular view. Our table afforded us a beautiful panoramic look at Biscayne Bay while the city lights twinkled in the distance. Cameron, our waiter, came over to greet us with a welcoming smile on his face. He spent some time explaining the menu to us and helping us decide on what to order. I have to say the service was impressive and stood out for the entire meal. In addition to the impeccable attention to detail from the wait staff, Derek, one of the managers, consistently walked around the dining room talking to the guests and ensuring all was well. Now on to the food...When they set the bread basket in front of us, I was a bit hesitant; half expecting the warm, soft cheese bread we all know and love. I slowly grabbed one of the Lavash breads and put some of the Red Pepper hummus on it. A smile began to curve! Then I grabbed a piece of the Ciabatta bread and spread some Plugra butter on it. I took another bite and I was ready for change.


Basket of Lavash and Ciabatta breads


Seafood and Salmon Croquetas
Ahi Tuna Tacos
It didn't take me long to decide I wanted to try their Miami Spice Menu along with some other dishes that sounded very interesting. From the Miami Spice menu, we started off with the Seafood and Salmon Croquetas, served with roasted garlic aioli. They were creamy inside and the aioli, which had some squid ink for color, gave them an appealing, garlicky flavor.  As a second appetizer, we ordered the Ahi Tuna Tacos from the regular menu. The tacos were exceptional with fresh tuna, guacamole, shredded lettuce, espelette and fennel pollen. These blew me away; packing a spicy kick that left me wanting more.


Seafood en Papillote
Crispy Fried Whole Red Snapper
Our Miami Spice entree was the Seafood en Papillote, a moist and savory paella-like dish with jumbo shrimp, mussels and little neck clams; blended in with bomba rice and lobster broth. It was cooked "en papillote" which means the food is sealed in a package or bag, allowing the ingredients to mingle in their own flavorful juices to create a healthy, aromatic dish. I loved it. There was magic in the way each distinct taste infused with the other. The second entree we ordered came from the regular menu and it was the Crispy Fried Whole Local Red Snapper, served with Udon Noodles, Asian Slaw, and Soy-Honey Sauce. The red snapper was well-seasoned, battered and lightly fried; leaving the fish to fall right off the bone. Very nice.



Warm Cafe Con Leche
Miami Cheesecake
It was time for the sweet part of the meal. I was extremely curious about their Warm CafĂ© Con Leche, a decadent, warm White Chocolate cake, blissfully joined with Cuban Coffee, and a side of Cookies & Cream Ice Cream. It was unbelievable! I loved dipping the warm, creamy treat into the dots of raspberry puree adorning the plate. The best two forms of caffeine blended into one amazing dessert, and the taste was out of this world. Best part? It's on their Miami Spice Menu. Ready for one more, we had the Miami Cheesecake; an original mango cheesecake creation, sitting on an Oreo cookie crust and smothered in Milk Chocolate. Beautiful berries and tiny pieces of mango sat on the top creating a work of art. Gorgeous presentation and the taste: divine. We loved this grand finale.

Amaretto

Since it had been such a remarkable meal, we wanted to have an after dinner drink before heading back. We ordered our usual Frangelico and Amaretto. I do have a caveat here. The prices were a bit steep for these drinks. They were $14 and $12 respectively, which is substantially higher than the norm. So, you can choose to splurge or you can call it a night.


I loved the old Rusty Pelican but I am in love with the new one. While there was a bit of nostalgia at the beginning, the wonderful service, modern look and excellent food made the refreshed version of my old favorite quickly grow on me and I am excited to return, old friend. For more information, you can contact them at 305-361-3818 or visit them online at http://www.rustypelican.com.


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