Chef John Hines cooks with heart and soul
Chef and owner of Turquoise restaurant John Hines is as sweet and colorful in person as is his food and restaurant. Having learned cooking from his Momma in Tennessee and the CIA (Culinary Institute of America), Hines has a passion for all flavors of food and built his restaurant around giving everyone a little bit of everything. From surf to the turf, Turquoise delivers the flavors of India and Asia to the Southern Bayou.
“I started with eight pages and had to get it down to four,” said Hines about creating his dream menu. Laughing he described his process, “It takes a special kind of crazy to do this and I’m that kind of crazy.”
Having cooked from Albany, New York all the way to MM 0, Hines has learned a few tricks. Start the meal with seared jumbo scallops with Crown Royal Maple Bacon sauce or crawfish mac ‘n’ cheese with Andouille sausage. These are recipes that cannot be duplicated at home and fulfill every diner’s savory desire.
The entree menu is as diverse as it is delicious. From award-winning baby back ribs with a spicy “cock” sauce to Duval Street Snapper with a scrumptious crawfish étouffée — which means to smother, and smothered it is — with vegetables and crawfish galore. Or try something different with Indochine shrimp and chicken that is simply a really good curry. Hines has crafted a menu with Ahi Tuna, mahi mahi, salmon to a bacon-wrapped meatloaf (with four meats) that rivals any made on the food channels.
But the winner, the one dish that foodies cannot leave without ordering is the beignets. Basically, Hines’s beignets are why humans can taste food. The delicate fried batter is a flavor mixture between a donut and the ultimate French pastry. The light dough is surrounded by a crunchy shell dusted with chocolate and powered sugar. Tear the Bbeignet apart and dip it into the creme anglaise sauce, a sweet vanilla custard, and be prepared to never feel the same about pastry again.
Aptly naming the restaurant Turquoise after the water that surrounds the islands, Hines delivers plates that are just as appealing. Whatever you are in the mood for, Turquoise has a menu that can be returned to again and again.
Melissa Thompson, manager and girlfriend, describes Hines and his love for food and Key West, “He is extremely generous in the community, takes people food all the time, he just has a big heart.”
Hines cooks with his heart and undoubtedly made his Momma proud.
112 Fitzpatrick St., Key West
Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily