Exit 1: Good Eats in a Secret Location

It was a rainy night on Key Biscayne. That didn't make finding Exit 1, the restaurant by the owners of Route 9, any easier.

"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.

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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).

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.

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