Breakfast is an important meal in Key West. We need fuel to start a busy workday and to take in the sights on land or water. There are quite a few who count on breakfast (no matter what time it is eaten) to “get right” after a long night of fun. It’s great that the island offers so many good places to choose from. Cuban coffee windows, healthy smoothie spots, diners, and more upscale options all abound.
One of my favorite breakfast spots is probably better known for lunch or dinner. In fact, many locals don’t seem to be aware that Azur is serving up a great breakfast Monday through Saturday mornings on a quiet corner in Old Town. Guests at Eden House, just a few doors down on Fleming Street, are invited to start their day there, but everyone is welcome.
Azur’s breakfast menu is divided into sections, just like most morning menus, but the sections here are rounded out with some unusual and delicious choices.
First off, the Benedicts. Yes, an entire section devoted to them. Five options, each topped with two poached eggs. It’s the rest of the plate that makes it special. How about a crisp flat bread with a layer of grilled tomatoes, two excellent crab cakes, and lemon hollandaise? Or maybe you’d like crisp yellowtail snapper filets atop grilled ciabatta with wilted spinach and caper hollandaise? Even the more traditional choices aren’t so traditional. The Azur Benedict is made with the house-cured fennel salmon, crème fraiche, and tobiko (flying fish roe) hollandaise. The Roesti Benedict reflects the owners’ time in Germany, with a crisp potato pancake as the base, and Brie, prosciutto, arugula and hollandaise on top.
Next, look at the frittata section; another five enticing choices. These open-faced omelets are tender and full of flavor from combinations like spinach and sheep’s milk feta, Prosciutto di Parma, Fontina, and caramelized onions, and Brie, Herbs de Provence, and mushrooms. Potatoes and ciabatta toast are served alongside.
For those who like to start the day with a sweeter meal, Azur’s key lime pie stuffed French toast should do the trick. It’s made with thick bread slices soaked in vanilla custard then grilled. Add a same-size slice of real pie between each piece of toast and a wild berry compote, and you should be ready to face the day no matter what.
The winner on this menu is the Carbonara Breakfast, listed under the Hearty Breakfast section. What, you say? Isn’t that a pasta dish? I was skeptical but as I watched the plates of it pass my table on numerous visits I had to give it a try. Amazing! And not as heavy or sinful as it sounds. Azur’s breakfast/dinner mash up features crisp pancetta, mushrooms, and soft onion throughout the pasta, with two poached eggs on top. The egg yolk blends with Parmesan Reggiano to make a sauce that is, well, just trust me and go try it. I’ve heard from the servers that they consider taking it off the menu sometimes, but that customers beg them not to. It’s that good.
425 Grinnell St., Key West
Open Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.