the keys and key west
We just returned from the 2nd trip down this season and while I love the keys, Key West is defintely more tawdry, crowded and less and less attractive. 7 Fish was recommended here and seconded in a local art shop. A long walk along Olivia turned up a place whose ONLY plus would be the food - NO CHARM, NO AMBIANCE. I need all three for an evening out. Mangoes on Duval was not a great choice but we were tired. The bar service was inferior (cant''t make a decent martini or old fashioned), the food was interesting especially the appetizer (peri peri shrimp). The ambiance is very nice and over all the evening was pleasant..
A little north of Key West at mile marker 19 is Mangrove Mamma - a very cute place with very flavorful fish selections (small servings though if that is important to you).
Something new in Key West seems to be a warning in the menus that a gratuity may be added to the check (an inquiry revealed it is for European customers who expect it to be included and do not tip otherwise). None the less it leaves one open to a tacked on fixed charge regardless of the quality of service. It leaves me very suspicious and willing to find another place.
Gosh, Richard, you sure did miss a bet. I'm sorry that you didn't see the charm and ambiance at Seven Fishes. That cost you what surely would have been a memorable meal. Those guys invest their heart and soal into their cuisine. It is a shame that there wasn't a good bartender on duty when you visited Mangoes. I want to assure you that is the exception and not the rule. The tipping ploy is important here. Our European tourists really will tie up the waitstaff and give them nothing. Something had to be devised to protect them. If you speak American you can rest assured that no one is going to hijack you for a tip.