Flagler’s Seafood Steaks and Chops
Casa Marina Resort
1500 Reynolds Street, Key West, Florida
Phone: (305) 296-3535
Price Range: Upper Moderate
I need to say from the outset that about 2-3 years ago I was employed by the resort that Flagler’s Restaurant operates out of. The comments here are focused, therefore, on the dining room itself and not the resort.
You will need to get off the beaten path (aka Duval St.) to make a date with this Gatsbyesque locale. Located in the now Wyndham Casa Marina resort about 5 blocks off the southernmost point on the Atlantic Ocean; this is one of the most beautiful properties on the island and the restaurant would be its exclamation point for sure. I watched its renovation from the beginning and was impressed with every step of the work. You feel like you have walked into a time machine and arrived in the 1920’s when the facility was originally opened with rattan seating, large ceiling fans, marble topped bar, white linen, respectful service, relaxing booths, tall French doors facing out to a veranda and the vast Atlantic Ocean and, best of all, some of the best prepared steak and seafood in town. It’s namesake Henry Flagler built the overseas railway to Key West from the mainland and, unfortunately, died before seeing it come to fruition. I love history and this complex reeks with it and that just draws me in deeper.
On the practical side you will find plenty of parking (self and valet) except at high occupancy times and this place is on a resort property so be prepared for sticker shock when you get your bill. That being said I find the food, the service and the environment worth the dollar signs. I had a beautifully presented grouper and my special companions opted for the steak and all were very happy with their respective selections. A piano player fills the historic surroundings with pleasant sounds that bounce off the greenery, wrought iron gates and hardwood floors. I can just see Hemingway, Tennessee Williams and their fellow artists meandering about this place many years ago stirring up their creative juices. Even if you don’t eat here you must walk through to appreciate the environment, but you’d miss something if you skipped the meal.
I think it’s obvious that I’m quite taken with Flagler’s and if you don’t stop in to see Robert at the bar or reserve a table for a fine meal you’d be missing a genuine Key West opportunity to walk in the shoes of its past residents.
Doug Heyman in Key West for the Food Reference Website
Previous Review 2003
At Flaglers, my dinner companion at and I decided to begin with a tuna tartare and an escargot en croute. The tuna was a sushi/sashimi grade yellow-fin and was served with marinated cucumber slices which completed the dish. The tuna itself was absolutely perfect on its own. The cucumber was a welcome, not necessary but ultimately enhancing accouterment. Bravo.
The escargot was a magnificent presentation offered a peerless, most tender escargot co-starring with garlic and fresh baby spinach baked “en croute”---I felt that the flavors were wonderful and appreciated the delicate and evolved taste of the melange.
Chris and I then shared the Chateaubriand for two---carved table-side. It was flawless. The accompaniments were a stewed tomato, fresh string beans, asparagus and squash with grilled/roasted garlic potatoes.
Problem: The Chateaubriand was carved by the server. Actually a more apt description is “sliced”. He made an error in portioning this $60.00 entrée and made no mention of it. The prime rib was intended to be portioned equally. It was not.
He was not paying thorough attention. Without any malice, I believe that there are those on the staff for whom this error would not have occurred. The end of the world? No! Tremendous fine-dining faux-pas? Yes.
Bearing in mind that the management of Flagler’s have definitely got it right and that their collective “worst day” still eclipses most other establishments’ BEST efforts, we both commented on how magnificent the experience was overall. No room for dessert though the Key Lime tart was infinitely alluring, Chris and I enjoyed due espressi to finish.
Bottom Line: THIS is classic fine dining at near flawless levels. Of course I realize that I am no longer in a metropolis nor do I WANT to be. I love this island. I love having such an enormous variety of dining options and I LOVE that Flagler’s (under new management, I wonder?) made the night one to remember. Flaglers is the answer to world-class, formal dining without white gloves! Magnificent!!
Marc for FoodReference.com