Famed American author Ernest Hemingway embodied a spirit of adventure, enjoying exotic foods and tropical drinks during a lifetime of international travel. This is the inspiration for the creative cuisine of Hemingway’s Island Grill.

Drawing on culinary influences from Key West, Cuba, and the Mediterranean, Hemingway’s offers a relaxed, island atmosphere with flavorful Caribbean flare. A typical Caesar salad turns tropical with coconut-and-pineapple-infused dressing. It’s perfect paired with the Island lobster bisque – a thick and creamy blend of butter, sherry and cream, with chunks of lobster claw meat.

Author of the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning classic The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway was born and died in the Midwest but spent much of his life abroad, living in Italy, Paris, Key West, and Cuba. The avid sportsman also took memorable safaris to Africa and served as a war correspondent in Spain.

“We’re serving some authentic Cuban dishes and real Cuban coffee,” notes general manager Justin Fleming. “We use all the things he did in his life as inspiration for our food and drinks. It makes it fun.”

On the last Wednesday of each month, Hemingway’s offers special wine dinners for $39.95, featuring four courses and wines paired with exotic dishes not found on the regular menu. The restaurant also has introduced its “Rum Passport” as an incentive to try all 40 of the rums it offers. The passport is stamped after each rum purchase, with the sixth one free.

Long summer evenings are the perfect time to dine al fresco at Hemingway’s, enjoying the bright blooms of Bougainvillea and live music every Wednesday through Sunday nights. After dinner, take a stroll along the boardwalk or sit beside a turtle pond while sipping a sangria.

 

Appetizers: coco cayo calamari & mojito

A couple appetizers and a refreshing mojito is the perfect start to the Hemingway’s dining experience. The mojito blends fresh mint, lime, sugar cane, and Bacardi rum for a light, citrusy drink with a pleasant minty aftertaste. Two appetizers not to miss are the Mary’s onion spirals ($6.95 for an ample portion, served with key lime mustard sauce) and the coco cayo calamari, featuring giant calamari, deep fried and drizzled with honey chipotle glaze. This succulent starter is served with Hemingway’s homemade Caribbean dipping sauce, adding a just-right kick to the calamari.

 

Sides: maduros

Arguably the highlight of our Hemingway’s experience, the maduros are fried sweet plantains, served with a smooth and subtle vanilla rum dipping sauce. Whether ordered as an appetizer, side dish or dessert, don’t miss the maduros!

 

Bar menu: beef empanadas

A classic Cuban dish, the beef empanadas are stuffed with picadillo and topped with island pepper sauce and fresh salsa. It’s an eye-catching appetizer with a fusion of flavors. Perfect paired with a white or red sangria. All appetizers from the bar menu are two for $5 on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

 

Entree: old man and the sea scallops

This succulent entree special featured dry-pack, jumbo scallops, bok choy, and shiitake mushrooms with mirin and soy sauce, bringing Asian flare to a seafood delight. Starring tender sea scallops arranged beautifully around the bok choy, this was a lovely dish that tasted as good as it looked.

 

Entree: smoked paprika lamb chops

Another special of the evening, this dinner entree features tender New Zealand lamb chops, attractively plated atop tasty white cheddar smashed potatoes, all drizzled with flavorful demi-glace sauce. Delicious!

 

Dessert: banana cheesecake taquito

Sweet banana cheesecake is wrapped in a flour tortilla, fried crisp, and served with custard sauce. Add fresh strawberries and whipped cream for a delightful sugar euphoria. The banana cheesecake is best balanced by one of Hemingway’s many coffee drinks, such as the Cortadito – sweet Cuban espresso topped with steamed milk. Also try the jamaican bread pudding or key lime pie with a cold Don Pedro vanilla frappe blended with Bailey’s Irish Cream and Kalua.