The goods: Key Biscayne’s iconic Rusty Pelican has reopened after a five-month, $7 million top to bottom renovation.
Ambience: Additions to the massive restaurant, perched on the open bay, include a swanky cocktail bar; floor-to-ceiling bay windows; outdoor tables flanked by fire pits; a glass-enclosed wine corridor; and mid-century style furniture, wood paneling and cushioned booths creating a Mad Men vibe.
The grub: Modern American. Executive chef Michael Gilligan (W South Beach) churns out an extensive menu of small plates and hearty mains. Prices skew to the special occasion diner: starters $7-$15 and mains $17-$42.
Dinner starts with a generous bread basket packed with cornbread sticks, cheese bread, ciabatta, butter and marinated olives. Then there are twenty small plate starters, including eel & foie gras with tostones (pictured), wild mushroom cappuccino, tempura fried avocado “fries” and a GLT slider with fried grouper. Mains include a duck fat-fried lamb loin wrapped in phyllo dough and a slab of black sea bass over Jasmine rice in a cinnamon broth. Grilled steak, lobster tail and pork chop arrive with roasted vegetables and a side.
Desserts include key lime pie, goat cheese cheesecake and a “chocolate sabotage” consisting of mini-molten lava cake, chocolate panna cotta and chocolate mousse.
Verdict: A waterfront classic returns with mod 60’s décor and a robust menu of American crowd pleasers.