I never dined at Square One under the previous owners, so I can’t compare the “new” restaurant with the “old.” Regardless, I have become a big fan of what they are doing there right now.
The setting is nice, to start. Square One is located in Duval Square, between Simonton and Duval streets. It is quiet, definitely away from the crowds, but with just enough bustle to feel special. Origami and New York Pasta Garden are neighbors, and all three establishments have generous outdoor seating. The inside of Square One is quite striking, but I love to dine al fresco whenever possible.
Every Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. is brunch. You’ll find the best of both breakfast and lunch, of course, from tried-and-true favorites to some things to make your meal extra special. I’d say starting the day with a flight of crafted Bloody Marys is pretty special. At Square One you get four – The Red (zesty with horseradish and Sriracha), The Green (tangy with tomatillo, kiwi and wasabi), The Orange (made with carrot, beet, and orange juices), and The Fisherman (clam juice, Old Bay, and white peppercorn-infused vodka). Ending your brunch with their Coffee and Donuts dessert is just downright decadent. Dunking housemade donut holes into rich mocha pudding and whipped cream? Yes, please.
Crafted cocktails are important at Square One, so definitely spend some time with the drink menu before placing your order. Then check out the dinner menu with its unique mix of plates large and small, appetizers and entrees, a little Asian (pot stickers), French (tartines), and Italian (carpaccios). The restaurant is now under the same ownership as Banana Cafe and The Cafe, so you will see the familiar symbols identifying their classic dishes including several vegan and vegetarian choices.
Recently, I celebrated my birthday there with my husband. We started with delicious French onion soup and outstanding Cream of Tomato with cheddar croutons. Next up, pork pot stickers in pineapple-hoisin sauce and the wild mushroom tartine, with a pile of delicious wild mushrooms, braised cipollini onions, fresh herbs, and fontina cheese on thick toasted bread. Next came one of the evening’s small plate specials — roasted prawns in a sauce of lime juice, smoked paprika, and cherry tomatoes. Probably one of the most delicious dishes I’ve had in Key West. For the entree, we shared the grouper special: impeccably fresh fish with mascarpone polenta and a flavorful sauce … just wonderful. No room for dessert that night, but I did want to try the house red sangria before heading home. So glad I did! The best I’ve ever tasted, with tiny chunks of watermelon and orange. I look forward to going back to Square One, for more sangria and to try the rest of the interesting menu.