Another First: An Old but ‘new to us restaurant’. King Neptune, Stuart, FL.

Another First:  An Old but ‘new to us’ restaurant.  King Neptune, Stuart, FL.

King Neptune StuartFinding myself taking a spontaneous short road trip, I took advantage of the opportunity and started researching a restaurant that had been recommended to me while sitting in the passenger seat.
The King Neptune in Stuart had several 5/5 stars on yelp and only one 1/5 in my readings.  The comments were outstanding, so here we go.  The one caution I read was that it fills up quickly and often has a wait.  Which in my book means good food and worth the wait.

Sitting at the light, and hearing the ‘Waves’ app telling us that our location is right ahead, we were both kind of puzzled. It seems that our destiny was at the end of a strip plaza which was very
very small, looking literally like it must be no more than 25 X 25 feet; tops!  We meandered our way around back and found a place to park. I thought it was on the water with ‘boat’ views, but it seemed I was wrong.

We arrived at 11:20a.m. to find a very festive, bright and comfortable place to enjoy lunch, and it was nice having Joy, the waitress, all to ourselves for a short time.  She was very knowledgable of the history and the changes over the years that took the KN from 10-15 at lunch, to currently 75-100, she said.  The reviews I read said KN had been in biz for over 50 years, and she confirmed it to be true.  New owners took it over in the early 2000’s, and she had been there ten years.  It seemed she was the only server, and there was one cook to assemble, for the 36 seats available, the plates that were to excite our tastebuds and satiate our rumbling tummies.

Cracked Conch Appetizer
Cracked Conch Appetizer

After Mr. Wonderful and I had a brief discussion on high top vs low top, my preference for the day being hi top, and his low top, we went with low top.  Getting into the Psyche… I prefer high top because I am short; he is tall, and is a bundle of muscle, so sitting low has no threat to him.  As a woman who always feels his ‘awareness’, low top here was just fine. I am happy and blessed to be with him.  He chose a Yuengling which was on special for the day at $1.25 and I had the Dante Chardonnay; it was satisfactory, but the best part of it it was an abundant glass of wine; unusual these days!

Having read the reviews praising the cracked conch appetizer and the oyster shooters, that is where we started. The crack conch was very lightly breaded which I appreciated. I am NOT a person in favor of heavy breading. I feel it covers the flavor of the core, is an absolute waste of calories,  and it beats up the inside of my mouth.  This was nice and light, and the conch did have a darling, tender yumminess that was accented by the zesty and creamy remoulade sauce and a very juicy lemon that accompanied it.  Nothing is worse (kind of dramatic, I know) than attempting to extract juice from an evaporated and exhausted lemon that should provide that absolutely awesome hint of citrus that I so desire in our flavors of the sea.

4 of the 6 remaining Oyster Shooters
4 of the 6 remaining Oyster Shooters

The oyster shooters were very meaty; very substantial. However, I would prefer more than an oyster in cocktail sauce for my shooters.  I would offer, or serve a hint of accompaniments; a little lime, vodka,
horseradish; something! Also, as meaty as they oysters were, I did feel they lacked the flavor that I so love from the Apalachicola Oysters.  I did not get a chance to ask where these were from; by 12:00 most of the seats were taken, and this was obviously a very  ‘local’ gathering spot of friends who had a lot to talk about and Joy knew them all!  I imagine she has a lot to do with the success of this establishment.

Boom Boom Shrimp
Boom Boom Shrimp

Next we shared the boom boom shrimp.  It was compared to, but to be better than, the bang bang shrimp at Bonefish Grill.  I definitely have to disagree with the comparison.  The shrimp were full and firm, but simply lacked anything more.  The bang bang is something, for me, that I take into my mouth and really feel the explosion of the flavors; and, it is abundant in quantity.  Matter of fact, I do not recall every finishing my plate of bang bang shrimp.  Here at King Neptune, I  found the greens to be more pleasing for essence.  Mr. Wonderful felt the same way.

Blackened Mahi with Pepper Jack Cheese on Bimini Bread
Blackened Mahi with Pepper Jack Cheese on Bimini Bread

Lastly we shared the Black Jack Mahi Sandwich served with fries and cole slaw.  We were expecting a burst of flavor of pepper jack cheese, and rich blackening on toasted Bimini bread, which is a bread infused with coconut milk.  The Mahi was very tender, thick and juicy, and mild.  Interesting when one is comparing flavors; I enjoyed the bread (as you know, I am not a bread lover) simply because it was sparse, letting the flavors of the Mahi come through instead of masking it in soggy bread.   It was a little more firm, so when I took a bite, it didn’t feel like it was sticking to my teeth and weighting my mouth down with ‘nothing’.  It was a little sweet, but I did not recognize any hints of coconut milk.

However, Mr. Wonderful felt the opposite.  He felt there wasn’t even enough bread to contain the Mahi which did fall to pieces on his plate and he basically ate his sandwich with a fork.  He felt the bread was potato bread bought from Publix, and did not influence the ‘blackened Mahi with Pepperjack’ the way it should have.  The cole slaw and fries were unremarkable.

Beautiful morning sunrise in Vero Beach, FL.
Beautiful morning sunrise in Vero Beach, FL.

The final review:  We were both very hungry since we had skipped breakfast and had enjoyed a fabulous morning walk on the beach and cool swim which always stirs up a strong appetite.  To go away feeling less than satisfied, was, well, unexpected.

If King Neptune was right around the corner and every time I would go I would see friends and catch up on life with them, I am sure I would return again and again.

For those of us in the empty nesters age who are getting out and experiencing firsts… I will find another ‘first’ next time I visit Stuart.  We were so impressed with the Pelican Cafe a few weeks ago, and we almost went there.  But, committed to ‘another first’ we stayed true to the course.

If I were to return to King Neptune, I would try one of the salads, which Joy had expressed, were a huge hit.  As they paraded by our table, they did look full of qualities other than green ones, and they were being served quite a bit.  I would also try the crab-cakes.

But now, for oysters, I will go back to Bunkies in Indialantic.  Review to come 🙂  Their oysters can not be beaten at any price point along the east coast, in my opinion, and Mr. Wonderful says their wings are the meatiest and tastiest he has had.

Another first, yet to come….

If you have a ‘first’ that you would like to share with our empty nesters readers, please share!  It isn’t about the food!  It is about the experience and doing something that makes us think differently!  For example; as we were in Stuart, we chose to take a slight detour to ‘check out’ a business that had started following my tweets; I thought it interesting.  I’m glad I did.  It is always nice to educate ourselves in one form or another on something we find worth perplexing.

Another first; more time and conversation to share with Mr. Wonderful, and more experience and determination to perfect the recipes I am building at home to inspire and satiate my palate, and maximize my nutrition intake.  More to come!

Whether it is a restaurant, an activity, a destination, or an unexpected pleasure, please share!

Next restaurant review:  Sumo House, Vero Beach, FL.

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