When I learned that my “chef friend” Dave was coming to visit, I knew we had to try some cuisine that was original, professional, and spectacular. Dave has been coming to Key West for years and we make a point to eat well when he visits. So, in preparation, we perused the menus of some of our go-to favorites, and some less traveled. Finally it clicked. I said, “Dave, you have to try Nine One Five!” I knew this Culinary Institute of America-trained expert would be impressed.
I have only dined at Nine One Five on two other occasions (not often enough, I know), but we regularly enjoy Point 5, the upstairs bar featuring great cocktails, fancy pizzas made-to-order, and a decent happy hour. Also as Nine One Five is named for its address, 915 Duval St., so people-watching is a must at this prime viewing spot.
We started with the Tuna Dome and Bibb Salad. The Tuna Dome is three fresh pieces of sashimi tuna layered over fresh crabmeat in a dome-like shape with a soy sake glaze, drizzled with lemon miso, complimented with slices of creamy avocado. The Bibb was chosen by yours truly and it was perfection — crisp, cold pieces of lettuce with Anjou pear, Point Reyes blue cheese (a medium punch of blue, with layers of creamy, full-on flavor), hazelnuts, and a dash of hazelnut vinaigrette. Luckily the guys were enjoying their drinks, so I got to devour most of this salad.
For dinner, I chose the wild Scottish salmon that was perfectly prepared and included two generously sized shrimp, leek risotto, and a nice helping of tangy watercress. The salmon is served with a red wine shrimp butter served in its solid state. The butter is intended overlaying to melt over the salmon, but I take advantage of the situation by reducing my fatty intake. (I generally prefer my sauce “on the side” – but I don’t request it, as I know most menu items are created by the chef to execute to achieve a specific flavor.)
Dave opted for the crispy whole yellowtail snapper with cabbage, steamed basmati rice, and a spicy-good Thai chili sauce. This dish is something Shane and I have tried before and our recommendation did not disappoint.
Shane’s entrée was my favorite – I am a lover of all flavors, but a really great curry gets me every time. He had the Soul Mama Soup that includes a piece of Key West grouper and shrimp, PEI mussels, clams, and their obviously house made Thai green curry broth, topped with some cilantro and wedges of lime.
Somehow we had room for dessert, we shared the ricotta balls. They were fried and scrumptious, topped with a little dusting of sugar, and served with three dipping sauces: lemon curd, raspberry, and chocolate hazelnut.
Be sure to make a reservation at this superb restaurant, request your table outside on the porch or on the fence of this Victorian building for some spectacular food and enjoy the energy of people watching on Duval. Preferably with an order of the Artisanal Cheese Plate that I’m trying next time!
Nine One Five
915 Duval St., Key West
open nightly from 6 to 11 p.m.