La Isla Bonita

Trust the Islamorada name -- if you're in Islamorada, that is

Positive gastronomic experiences like these, however, tend to point up even more vividly the horrid one I had at Islamorada Fish Co. (Griffin Road at I-95, Dania Beach, 954-927-7737). Because I didn't get to the original location in the Keys and not feeling like giving up my vacation buzz just yet, I took my husband to the Dania Beach outpost. Although I hadn't liked it when I reviewed it several years ago, I decided to give it another chance.

I hope my stomach forgives me. A hearty conch chowder that featured a goodly amount of the pounded mollusk gave me hope. But events rapidly went into a tailspin. The Bimini bread had the texture of a bagel that's been in the microwave too long, and an "Islamorada" roll from the sushi bar was a surprise, as we didn't expect from the menu description that it was going to be deep-fried.

Nor did we anticipate that the grouper portofino, a piece of blackened fish topped with a miniature lobster tail that was napped itself with a rock shrimp-cream sauce, would offer spoiled shellfish. But the shrimp reeked of iodine, rendering the entire dish inedible. Across the table, my husband dealt with more rotten seafood via a grilled shrimp-and-scallop combination plate, which combined a skewer of overdone crustaceans with another kebab of scallops that had been so underseared that they were nearly raw. We both got the wrong side dishes, as well. From the waitress' response when we drew her attention to the double error -- "Why are you being so nice about it?" -- I'd gather two things: The cooks fail to read the orders properly (if at all) quite often, and the clientele that frequents the Broward County version of the Fish Co. isn't quite as laid-back as that of its sibling. Which just goes to show that you can take Islamorada out of the Keys, but it's at the risk of taking the Keys out of Islamorada.

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