"OK, it's after the tennis center but before Bill Baggs State Park," I helplessly told my husband as we drove through a monsoon.
After making several u-turns, we finally found the condo cluster in which the restaurant is located.
Hint: Exit 1 is on the north side of Crandon Boulevard, just before the entrance to the state park, as you head to the very tip of Key Biscayne. If you think a restaurant could not possibly be located where you're turning, you've found the right place.
Exit 1 is nestled off the lobby of a nondescript upscale condo. A
doorman points the way across a white marble expanse. An extremely small
sign lets you know you're in the right place.
Named for the end of I-95 (and the exit to Key Biscayne), Exit 1 is decorated tastefully, with vintage photographs adorning the walls. The
restaurant seems to cater to the locals who live in the adjacent
high-rise towers -- affluent and dressed for an evening out.
Our server, Michael, introduced
himself by name and recited the prices of that evening's specials. I especially liked that the seafood linguine was priced on par with the everyday menu offerings. It's
especially irksome when an off-menu dish surprises you by being extremely
expensive when the check comes.
There are quite a few wines by the bottle priced under $50, and a bottle of Rickshaw from California ($33) was a good value.
We started with squash blossoms with tomato sauce ($9). Little "chops" of squash were stuffed with mild cheese and finished with a nice touch of spice.
The linguine special ($26) featured fresh clams and shrimp in a lobster thermidor sauce. The pasta was cooked al dente, and the shellfish were fresh and plentiful.
Marinated churrasco was served with roasted yellow wax beans, a mound of potato sticks, and chimichurri sauce ($24).
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All desserts are $7, and it was tough choosing between the rum-and-Coke bundt cake with key lime custard and the mini cheese cake. Opting for the cheese cake was a wise decision. It's served upside-down with fresh berries. A light graham-cracker crust coats the cake (that's not chocolate, though it looks like it). Goat cheese makes it creamy and mild, while a pomegranate-and-balsamic reduction complements the cheese with sweet and acidic notes.