You don’t need a room key to enjoy the bounty of Yellowfin Bar & Kitchen, the newly reimagined restaurant at Ocean’s Edge Resort, on Stock Island, just across the bridge from Key West.
Chef Juan Cuadra and food and beverage director Chris Smilgin arrived at Yellowfin nearly at the same time, both from resorts in Islamorada, and they’ve stepped things up more than a few notches at Yellowfin.
“I came from the Postcard Inn and Chris came from Amara Cay. We really want the locals to know we’re here and they’re more than welcome,” Cuadra said during lunch on a recent Friday, when the dining room was filled with a combination of resort guests, local couples enjoying a Friday date lunch and a few charter fishermen from the marina out back, who were comparing notes about the day’s windy conditions on the water.
“We want to be part of the Key West and Stock Island community, not just a restaurant for hotel visitors,” Smilgin said. “We really value our locals.”
And they’re not just saying that.
Yellowfin recently entered and scored well in the first-ever Cuban Sandwich Throwdown at the Green Parrot Bar. The event was part of the Conch Republic Independence Celebration and raised money for the Key West Learning Center.
Yellowfin was also part of the April 25 Taste of Key West event, in which local restaurants and national wine and beer companies donate their product and staff time to help AH Monroe provide affordable and accessible housing, health care and HIV services to Keys residents.
“Before we arrived, there was a very limited menu here,” Cuadra said.
But he’s expanded all three menus — breakfast, lunch and dinner — and he and Smilgin are creating special events for guests and locals, including a Havana Nights pig roast and holiday brunches.
“Our whole mission is to be local-friendly, with a popular menu and happy hours,” Smilgin said. “But we transform at night from a casual lunchtime atmosphere to full fine dining.”
The new dinner menu features a 21-ounce prime ribeye, guava-braised short ribs, a white wine garlic shrimp pasta, a filet, a surf-and-turf sirloin, a whole fried yellowtail snapper and nightly specials created by Cuadra. Yellowfin also will cook your catch with your choice of sides and sauces.
In just a few months, the duo has raised Yellowfin’s ranking on Tripadvisor to No. 6.
“We also support other local businesses,” Cuadra said. “We get our bagels from Goldman’s, our pastries from Croissants de France, our honey from Keez Beez, and our fish and shrimp from local fishermen.”
Yellowfin Bar & Kitchen also features a grab-and-go coffee station with bagels, coffee drinks and other snacks.
After breakfast, lunch or dinner at Yellowfin, explore Ocean’s Edge Resort’s marina and lushly landscaped grounds. To find it, follow MacDonald Avenue on Stock Island all the way to the end and you’ll run right into the resort’s stately entrance. (And there’s plenty of parking for Yellowfin Bar & Kitchen.)