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Key West Restaurants: 'A' to 'J' >  * Blue Heaven

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* indicates my choices for Best of Key West   -  Chef James

 

 

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Blue Heaven Restaurant
(Caribbean, Vegetarian)

729 Thomas Street, Key West , Florida
Phone: (305) 296-8666
A Chef James Best of Key West Restaurant

Hours:
Breakfast- 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Lunch- Noon to 3 p.m.
Dinner- 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Note: Blue Heaven closes each year for 6 weeks in Sept/Oct
Reservations: Reservations accepted for large parties only.
Parking: None. Walk, ride your bike or scooter, or take a pedicab or taxi.
Price Range: Moderate - High

Blue Heaven Restaurant

REVIEW

     There’s a quaint and special place to eat in Key West that locals and visitors alike just seem to rave about. I would guess it’s probably the most popular restaurant on the island if for no other reason then the shear numbers of people who inquire about it. Where else? Blue Heaven.
     I’ve heard it called “My Blue Heaven,” “Heavenly Blue,” “the place with the roosters and cats” and numerous other configurations, but everyone seems to know about it.
     Is its popularity based on anything concrete, or is it just a façade? You will definitely find your surroundings on the interesting side with meals served at tables outdoors on a dirt floor, plenty of chickens and roosters are roaming the property, cats sleeping on fences, chairs, rooftops and on the bar and a parachute slung over the trees acting as a sun blocker. You could well be in the Key West of the 1920’s if left to your imagination. The description of the environment alone could stand as the soul lure that draws in the clientele, but then you get the menu.
     I’m meant to understand that people vie for the opportunity to serve tables at Blue Heaven, but you better be good. The wait staff will have everyone’s name at the table before all the orders are made and I don’t believe I’ve seen many of them carry paper and pen. They’re extremely friendly and they know their food and can direct you to items that will be just what is right for you. It’s uncanny really.
     Back to the menu… It surprises you when you see the previously mentioned “ambiance” and then you look at your entrée choices. This is no bar and grill. You can select anything from surf and turf to yellowtail snapper to steak. They do some unique sauces that highlight the main dish not overwhelm it. I’ve never been disappointed at Blue Heaven.
     Many of the popular places have very “kitch” gift shops attached to them, but you’ll find the small store on the Blue Heaven property a worthwhile stop on your way out. The restaurant is located in a residential neighborhood, so don’t expect a parking space and you’ll pay for a good meal, but walk or cab in and get your money’s worth. Blue Heaven is highly recommended!

Doug Heyman in Key West
for the Food Reference website

 

Chef James Quick Info:

Full disclosure: I worked at Blue Heaven restaurant as a cook for about 5 years, until 2001, while doing research for the Food Reference Website.

The excellent food is an eclectic mix of seafood, Caribbean, and vegetarian dishes. They have an extensive wine list and very complete bar. Blue Heaven is THE place to go for Sunday Brunch, so do not go without reservations!
Located in Bahama Village, Blue Heaven restaurant has the true atmosphere of Key West; an historic building, outdoor dining, cats and chickens running loose, a rope swing, an outdoor bar at the foot of an old water tower, and artists and craftsmen display their wares in the backyard near the gift shop.

One hundred years ago, the owners of this Dade County Pine structure sold spirits to Key West and Florida Keys residents. Through the years the property has hosted cock fighting, gambling and Friday night boxing matches refereed by Ernest Hemingway. The outdoor courtyard is paved with the slate pool table tops from the days the downstairs operated as a billiard hall and ice cream parlour. A dance hall, a bordello and a playhouse have occupied the second floor. Today one can still peek through the sliding peep holes into the tiny rooms.
 

Customer Comment

dear james,
     we often thought fondly of our outstanding food experience in key west and couldn't wait to return to blue heaven restaurant. So, we thought, what better way to celebrate our recent marriage than to return to key west for our honeymoon and dine at our favorite restaurant!

     unfortunately i'm writing, because we had quite a dismal experience at the restaurant this evening and my husband is really "bummed out" about the whole thing. we had made plans to eat at blue heaven tonight and had invited another couple to join us, because the food is so heavenly. we were told by the hostess that it would be a 45 minute wait to sit outside, but that we could be seated inside almost immediately, because there was no one inside. while we prefer eating outside, we were so hungry we decided to forego that option and dine inside. 30 minutes later we were still not seated. we approached the hostess several times only to be told that it would "be just a few more minutes" and to make things worse, a member of our party, while getting a drink at the bar, overheard some other guests waiting at the bar state that they had slipped the hostess some cash in order to be seated faster. these folks had come into the restaurant after our party and were seated almost immediately after our friend heard them make the comment about paying the hostess in order to get a seat.

     we are very disappointed about the whole experience. i had spoken with jill, the manager, about this, but wanted to let you know as well, because we had emailed previously and i am in total respect of your talent as a chef and i would hope that perhaps you could pass this on to the owners, because it was a very distasteful experience and we do not intend to return to the restaurant, nor recommend it further based on our experiences this evening.
thank you for your kind attention,
H.H.S.

 

 

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