Last summer, Zickie and I ventured down to one of our favorite islands, Key West. I was there writing about special spots for one of my favorite blogs, Authentic Florida. Although I'm a fan of several classic Key West restaurants, that July we stumbled across a two-story culinary newcomer named Firefly Southern Kitchen. At this charming spot on 223 Petronia Street (half a block from well-known dining spot Blue Heaven) we enjoyed an entirely delicious meal, with thoughtfully executed, inventive dishes that would I term "Southern with a twist." This experience truly became one of the highlights of our Key West adventure! As we planned a new island getaway to the southernmost isle this summer, I was curious to know whether Firefly's cuisine would equal the yumminess preserved in our memories.
(Firefly Southern Kitchen in Key West. Photo by Laura Albritton.)
After strolling around Mallory Square just before sunset, we wandered off, our bellies rumbling. I love the Bahama Village neighborhood in Key West's Old Town, because it's quieter than Duval Street, but still retains plenty of historic charm. We were greeted warmly, and shown to a table on the upstairs balcony. Here, between the breeze and the ceiling fans, the temperature felt perfect. Our server, whose name was Aaron (if I didn't mishear) also welcomed us to Firefly, and gave us an extensive wine list, including several wines by the glass. Refreshing iced water arrived in mason jar mugs.
(Water and wine on the balcony at Firefly. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)
We saw several temptations on the dinner menu, but for the starter finally decided on the Fried Green Tomatoes. Now, these are not your grandmother's fried green tomatoes in the sense that this appetizer takes a Southern classic and puts a decidedly modern spin on it. The tomatoes themselves were perfectly fried with crispy battered exteriors, but we also tasted a "scotch bonnet aioli, kohlrabi & brussels sprout slaw in a hot bacon vinaigrette." Let me just tell you, that slaw tasted fantastic. You could put that on a lot of things and just gobble it up! Seriously yum.
(Fried Green Tomatoes at Firefly Southern Kitchen. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)
Next up? Zickie still remembered the delectable fried chicken a year later, but in the interests of trying something new, he ordered the Pan-Seared Pork Belly, with "house-smoked pulled pork, served with baked sea island red peas and orange fennel slaw." How was it? Let's just say almost nothing remained, barely a scrap, on his plate. Of course, in the interests of online journalism, I had to sample everything. The fennel slaw? Totally addictive. And the red peas? They tasted faintly of curry, with an Indian influence, and yet not quite Indian. So clever, and more importantly, so delicious.
(Pan-seared pork belly. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)
As for me, my hangar steak was cooked beautifully. With it came rhubarb herb relish, warm horseradish cream fingerling potato salad, and charred brussels sprouts. The small fingerling potatoes just melted in your mouth.
(A pretty night in Key West. Photo by Island Runaways/Z.A.)
As we sat back and savored the Key West sky with its bright shining moon, we tried to work up the space in our stomachs for desserts. If memory served, Firefly desserts tasted every bit as good as the main courses. But somehow, we just couldn't muster the strength! After lingering a while we paid the bill, and said "so long" to the friendly, hospitable staff. And despite the fact that we couldn't eat another bite, you know what we decided? Yep, next time in Key West we've got to come here again!
Follow Firefly Southern Kitchen on Facebook, or look at their menus on their website.