Friday, May 7, 2010

Diamond in the Keys- Chanticleer South (Islamorada)

Chanticleer South is a small, intimate French restaurant with Chef/Owner Jean-Charles Berruet at the helm. In all honesty, I drove past the restaurant on several occasions while vacationing in Islamorada without noticing it. Moreover, my normal pre-travel restaurant research came up empty.  However, chowfather-in-law noticed it one afternoon and instantly recalled having great meals years ago at a Chanticleer in Nantucket.  Were they related?? A quick search in Google revealed that they were in fact related.  After 35 years at the Chanticleer Inn in Nantucket, Chef Berruet decided to move south to Islamorada.

  Chanticleer South - The Cuisine of Jean-Charles Berruet

In Islamorada, Chef Berruet is wisely combining his French roots with the fresh local seafood at his doorsteps.  Of course, I did not take advantage of any of those offerings...

After several days of eating mediocre seafood there was no way I was passing on Chef Berruet's Foie Gras Terrine.  It was served with a fruit compote and brioche toast. It had a nice coarse texture and tasted great.  Foie Terrine fans will be very happy with this starter.

For those of you who have been following my Chowhound posts over the years or reading my blog, I doubt you will recall any mentions of great chicken dishes outside of Chef Mike's fried chicken and a few wings.  That's partly because I find chicken to be boring plus I ate a ton of dried and overcooked Foreman grilled chicken breast during law school.  Anyway, for whatever reason, Chef Berruet's Coq Au Vin was calling, no yelling my name.  The chicken was traditionally braised in red wine with mushrooms, onions and smoked bacon.  It was melt in your mouth moist and with great flavor. I doubt chicken gets better than this.  (Sugarcane Raw Bar apparently has a great roasted chicken special that sounds very tempting)

 I rarely order dessert but the meal was going so well that there was no way I was passing on the Grand Marnier souffle. I also noticed a couple of tables arriving just for dessert.   The souffle was served with a raspberry sauce and was up there with my favorite desserts including  the bread pudding at Commanders and the banana cream pie at Emeril's.

Chanticleer South is easily in a league of their own in the middle keys.  If you are looking for a great meal in the Keys I would highly recommend Chanticleer South.  They would hold their own against Miami's best and should be on your must do list if in the Islamorada area.

Chanticleer South

Chanticleer South on Urbanspoon
81671 Overseas Hwy
Islamorada, FL 33036

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