Although there is never an offseason for brunch, there is a distinctive vibe that accompanies Key West dining in October. On a given Sunday at Bistro 245, a Margaritaville Resort staple, the cruise ships line the docks to the west, as cooler winds begin to battle the remains of summer as they swirl through the Key West Harbor.
“This is truly a unique location,” one tourist by the name of William told me. “My wife and I have been coming to Key West for two decades and nothing compares to the experience this place offers.”
Yet brunch has become a competitive sport in Key West. For some, it’s all about the drinks, while others offer selective dishes from the kitchen. But at Bistro 245, no corners are cut when it comes to ushering Sunday guests into a food lover’s empyrean — creating the perfect harmony between unparalleled ambiance and delicious eats.
From the entrance of Bistro 245, views of boaters, Sunset Key and pedestrian traffic are on display from the outdoor seating. Yet within the restaurant lies a food lover’s utopia — highlighted by four unique lines of buffet-styled offerings that range from fresh seafood, breakfast favorites, classic cuisine and desserts.
While Bistro 245 offers mainstay favorites on the menu, every Sunday has a twist of something new. I was immediately drawn to the Maine lobster frisee with my first dish, accompanied by seafood imperial with sea scallops. With what little real estate remained on my plate, I shamelessly tucked in a helping of duck pot stickers and several crab and shrimp baked clams.
As one might already assume, it is best to arrive hungry — and we’ve only covered the first leg of the buffets. From another stretch of offerings, everything from seared tuna, meats and cheeses, raw bar oysters, chilled shrimp, sushi and salmon can be devoured. But it’s the tender snow crab cocktail claws that pose a dangerous threat to those prone to overeating.
It’s always best to heed and observe discipline when exploring the buffets at Bistro 245. This self-proclaimed amateur foodie advises small samples and limited portions upon every trek to the vast stretches of mouthwatering goodness. To indulge early is to risk missing another surprising delight, which I almost did until my server advised me to try the mint pesto-crusted leg of lamb at the carving station. This tender helping of succulent meat was to die for — well before I explored the overwhelming array of fresh desserts.
Of course, for breakfast lovers, eggs benedict, sausage, bacon and frittata (if black forest ham, peppers, roasted shallot and cheddar piques your taste buds) are on hand, but omelets can be made to order from a smiling face who is always happy to have you back for more.
One of the more understated pleasantries of the Bistro 245 dining experience is the service. Chef Bill Stockton and crew have a created a culture of accommodation. The unlimited mimosas are never empty, while frequent stops to the table almost go unnoticed as stray plates are gathered to make room for more. The food alone makes the $44 price tag (per guest) well worth the visit, while the service and ambiance offer a priceless experience.