By Melanie Galarce
On March 1, the team at The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne opened their newly renovated oceanfront restaurant, Lightkeepers (455 Grand Bay Drive, Key Biscayne). With modern, beachside décor, Lightkeepers aims to bring to life the history of Key Biscayne. Executive Chef Raul A. Del Pozo crafted an inviting menu influenced by the local fresh seafood and the fertile soils of the Florida Keys. A few weeks ago, Mitch and I were treated to a sneak peak of the newly launched menu and indulged in a tasting that left us dreaming of an endless escape by the sea.
Menu highlights: We enjoyed an extravagant meal that’s far too lengthy to highlight in detail, but we will point out some of our favorites below with brief descriptions of what you’ll have to look forward to if you make a trek out to this coastal culinary oasis.
Keeper’s Wife’s Biscuits (Keez Beez local honey butter and bacon essence.) These biscuits will put any Southern restaurant to shame with their perfect texture and rich buttery taste.
Beets + Burrata (roasted + raw beets, local burrata, heirloom cherry tomatoes, foraged mushrooms, and pumpkin oil.) This colorful salad offers a delicious combination of fresh veggies that is just as vibrant as the plate looks.
Yellowfin Tuna (pickled shimeji mushrooms, cucumber, radish, and soy cure.) This refreshing starter will give you a sneak peak of the strong seafood influence that Lightkeepers offers, while keeping things light and airy.
Mas Verde (Brussels leaves, green cabbage, avocado, asparagus, snap peas, picked red onion, hazelnut, and salsa verde.) This was one of the more memorable salads that we enjoyed. The avocado brought a sweetness to the dish that went really well with the hazelnut and cabbage.
Grilled Spanish Octopus (wakame, poached cherry tomatoes, charcoal potatoes, and saffron aioli.) This delicious octopus rendition was spectacular. The drizzled saffron aioli complemented the perfectly cooked crunchy layer of octopus. The cherry tomatoes and charcoal potatoes were also great sides to complement the well-seasoned octopus.
Local Snapper (baby zucchini, sun coke, kohlrabi, and key lime preserve.) Crispy and with hints of the key lime preserve, this fish was just the perfect portion and went really well with the plethora of starters that we had in sight.
Last but not least, we indulged in a series of dessert favorites that included a Bucket of Beignets (with passion fruit and valrhona chocolate sauces), Key Lime Cheesecake, and Chocolate Plantain Cake (served with sea salt caramel ice cream). All delectable, rich and the perfect ending to an exquisite meal.
Standout dish: The Tomato Fondue with goat cheese, garlic oil, and crisp rosemary is the kind of starter that we can convert into an entrée and consume in copious amounts. It felt almost like a deconstructed pizza and the server confirmed our obsession by mentioning it’s been one of the most popular dishes ordered since the restaurant opened its doors.
Although surprisingly not a seafood dish, another standout plate was the 12 oz Jackman Ranch NY Strip, a 30-day dry aged meat that was cooked to perfection with a juicy texture. We were told Lightkeepers is one of a handful of restaurants that has a Josper oven (a state-of-the-art charcoal oven) that can cook this meat in minutes. We were totally sold after that pitch and the NY Strip did not disappoint.
Are we boozing? Not only are we boozing beachside, we’re also indulging in craft cocktails like El Farito, Mr. Thompson’s Smoked Old Fashion and Loggerhead Lavender.
Mel’s take: Just in time for summer, Lightkeepers opens to Miami residents for a food staycation that will transport you to that Caribbean vacation you’ve been dreaming up the last few months. This is the place where you want to bring friends and family to impress by treating them to an incredible resort feel and a seafood-inspired menu that has something for everyone in the family. A little glitz and glam goes a long way during Miami’s dog days of summer and this just might be the fix we all need.