Saturday, February 9, 2013

A and B Lobster House

Is the The A&B Lobster House the best restaurant in Key West? It certainly has the right ingredients:
  • Best location on the island.  Bang in the middle of the action, in Key West Bight (the harbor), right on the boardwalk 
  • History: cooking lobster since 1947
  • Iconic brand (see pictures below)
  • Views: over the sea and the constant activity of the Bight
So what's my verdict? Read on (or skip to the very end, if you're impatient!)...

For some reason, I've never been here so this was my first experience of this Key West institution.  I was with my mum and dad on their first trip to Key West, in January 2013.

Here's some pictures from our meal, starting with pictures of the outside and the views.
The A & B Lobster House neon sign as seen from the Front Street approach.
A&B stands for Alonzo and Berlin, in case you wanted to know! I don't think this is a very good likeness of Alonzo!...

The history of A & B Lobster House, from a sign just outside the restaurant.
There are two restaurants here: upstairs and downstairs.   They are quite different so choose right.

The downstairs restaurant is called Alonzo's Oyster Bar, here'a a pic (below) of the entrance.  The menu downstairs is a little different - shorter and much simpler and cheaper.  Downstairs is for more casual dining, if you want better views and more formal eating experience go upstairs.   For evening dining, I strongly recommend upstairs.

They do cocktails, and there is a cocktail bar which is also a cigar bar (unfortunately)
The cocktail bar is called Berlin's - it's upstairs in a totally separate room off the main dining room.  Note it's a cigar bar and so whilst it's well air conditioned, there is unpleasant smoke and smell all the time!  Not recommended to go and sit there unless you want to sit in a cloud of smoke (or want to smoke yourself, of course!).

Which is a shame as the cocktails are good!

Upstairs restaurant (the main restaurant)
You have 2 options upstairs: outside in the heat / fresh air or inside in the AC.

Depending on the season, it's much nicer outside as you get an amazing view, which is half of the reason to eat here.  We went in January and so outside is best.  It would be a very different story in the humidity of summer when you'll want to be inside in the AC.

There are 10 tables outside on the large wrap around balcony:

And here is the view you get of Key West Bight/harbor from the balcony:
Late evening view as we take our seats, from our table on the balcony at A & B Lobster House in Key West.  View out to the ocean, or more accurately as I am looking north-west, the Gulf of Mexico.  Note the sunset cruise sailboat with the red sails.
Twist round and the view the other way towards Caroline Street and the music from Schooner Wharf bar.

Enough of the views, let's eat and drink!
First things first, and it's mandatory to have a martini to start the evening!

They were ok.  Could be doing with a little stronger. Not exceptional martinis, just good.

It's a lobster restaurant so we though we should have... lobster!  Mum and I both had the lobster thermidor.  It was very good.

The deserts were excellent.  The best course.

Still outside but now dark, and happy at the end of our meal...

The A & B Lobster House's sign facing the Bight.  
Is the A&B Lobster House the best restaurant on Key West?   The verdict...
It's not the most different.  See here for that.
It's not the best food.  It is very good, just not the very best.

But the ambiance, the service and the view are all exceptional.

So, yes, for overall restaurant experience I think IT IS  (currently) the best restaurant on the island.

The desert was the best I've ever had anywhere.  The Crab and Artichoke gratin appetizer was a little disappointing.  And the lobster was great.  The menu has lots of other great looking choices which I'm looking forward to trying next time!

The cost 
If you're on a budget, don't eat upstairs!  It's right up there in the top tier of most expensive restaurants on the island, and lobster is never cheap.

It cost us $214 for 3 or $71 each (or £51 each) - and we didn't have a lot of booze and not all courses.  These prices are about the same for these dishes in other top end restaurants on the island.

Other stuff

Here's a post on the best restaurants in Key West (according to me!) - see how the A & B compares, and which the other top restaurants are.

If you're planing a vacation click here to see some hotel and guest house options and considerations.

Here's a list of my top things to do in Key West.

If you've had a good, or bad, meal in A & B please leave a comment!