Firefly Southern Kitchen

(Key West, FL) — The day was...sultry. Hot, anyway. In fact, Key West is much warmer than predicted and certainly more humid. A cold beer out on a deck sounds pretty good for lunch, so we amble down from our rented condo closer to the action on Duval. We’ve heard good things about a place called Firefly Southern Kitchen; the cool, white exterior looks to be a balm against the glaring sun so we go inside for respite from the equatorial climes...

He Fed:

I’m already sweating as we enter the restaurant. In the spacious dining room, ceiling fans turn lazily and the air conditioning is non-existent. There are a couple families finishing up brunch, filling the space with noise and activity, and heat. We ask to sit outside, upstairs, on the deck overlooking the street. At least up here, we receive the occasional caress of tropical breezes while planes fly overhead every twenty minutes or so, zipping along the blue ether in noisy contrast to puffy white clouds. The skyline is a collage of rooftops, palm trees, and humming power lines.

I’m not a fan of brunch menus, but Juliet is, and I know she adores southern cooking so I’m game. But not before I inquire about the draft list. Lost Coast Tangerine Wheat ($8) sounds very refreshing, so I order a pint. It is gloriously packed full of citrus and sun, sweat dripping off the chilled glass. I nearly forget it is mid-80’s out there, and hotter on the sidewalk.

Juliet suggests we could use a salad, after days of a deep fried foods and meat-centric diet. I’m game. The Pickled Pear Salad ($10) includes candied walnuts, bleu cheese crumbles, and balsamic vinaigrette over mixed greens. It is puckery sweet with just a touch of “old shoe” (not necessarily a bad thing). I love the crunch of the nuts in contrast to the creamy cheese. Together, we polish off the plate, running our forks through the remaining balsamic syrup.

For my lunch, I choose the Spicy Chicken ($13). Over a honey biscuit smeared with spicy sauce, a fried boneless chicken breast is laid, draped with ghost pepper cheese. Now, I like spicy food but this sandwich almost does me in. The ghost peppers bring tears to my eyes and that bright red sauce, applied in modicum, offers no solace. I find the chicken to be somewhat dry; fat or juice might have helped assuage the burning. I’m a trooper, though, and manage to finish it off with assistance from an additional pint of Stone Levitation Ale ($7). The malty beer coats my tongue like a fireproof blanket and I can feel my body temperature regaining equilibrium.

I do take a taste of Juliet’s Biscuits & Gravy ($10), finding it comforting and well balanced, yet unremarkable. I am surprised neither of us settled on the Chicken and Waffles ($14). At the very least, I thought she’d lunge at the Southern Fried Shrimp Sandwich ($14) or Cast-Iron Shrimp and Grits ($15). Oh well, maybe next time.

Now that the wind has picked up, we are slightly reluctant to give up our perch. Slowly, we sip our beverages, until departure can no longer be delayed. Bill paid, we duck our heads back out into the sunshine and turn toward Duval to seek out more adventures at Sloppy Joe’s and Hog’s Breath, while the scent of the ocean follows us down the road.

She Fed:

While our condo is located in a quiet part of town, it’s a bit of a hike to any of the popular restaurants near Duval Street. About a mile to most, but with temps in the upper 80’s and humidity levels reaching 90%, it makes for a sticky walk! I’ve pretty much resigned myself to looking flushed (“vacation glow?”) and wearing moisture-wicking fabrics throughout our stay.

We arrive to find a few picnic tables out front, but the sun is blazing down on them. Too much for these pasty Midwesterners! We opt for the covered deck upstairs and immediately order two ice waters. Luckily, there are ceiling fans on the deck as well to help wick away a little moisture. I’m in the mood for bubbles, but the thought of Champagne doesn’t appeal despite the fact that we’re here for brunch. At Jeremy’s suggestion, I order the Green Goblin Cider ($10), an English cider aged in oak barrels. It’s not overly sweet, with a fair amount of tannins and woodiness—perfect for a scorching day!

We agree to split the Pickled Pear Salad and are pleased to find the pears have been spiced with lots of cinnamon, clove and star anise. These pears remind me of the pickled rhubarb Jeremy made over the summer. Slightly sweet, but also tangy with a bit of pucker. There’s a generous serving of mixed leaf lettuce—red and green—candied walnuts, and blue cheese, all coated with a light balsamic vinaigrette. It’s an incredibly tasty salad and we darn near lick the plate clean between the two of us.

Firefly specializes in Southern food, so pretty much everything on the menu appeals to me. Fried chicken with waffles, shrimp and grits, chicken-fried all sounds divine. I notice two kinds of biscuits on the menu—a “honey biscuit” and a “cathead biscuit.” While the honey biscuit needs no explanation, I gotta ask about the cathead. Our server explains it’s quite big, about the size of a cat’s head. Alright then.

If you’ve read our past adventures, you know I’m a sucker for Biscuits & Gravy ($10). This one comes with a cathead biscuit. After our walk and the salad, I’m feeling like I can justify a big ‘ole biscuit smothered in house-made sausage gravy. Which is exactly what it is. (You need to watch the video to appreciate the size of this beast.) Despite it’s enormous size, the biscuit is light and fluffy, with a nice crisp exterior protecting it from some of the best sausage gravy I’ve ever had. Velvety and luscious with nubs of slightly spicy sausage, I could gobble this whole thing up and take a nap right here.

But common sense prevails, for once at least. I leave more on the plate than I’d like. We sip the last of our drinks, actually enjoying the heat, grateful we’re not freezing our bonzos off back home in Michigan. We head out into the afternoon sun to see what the day holds.

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