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REVIEW: Marker 88, Islamorada, Florida Keys

REVIEW: Marker 88, Islamorada, Florida Keys

Red meat has never really been my thing; I enjoy the odd burger, but I can count on two hands the number of steaks I’ve ordered while eating out. The often tough, chewy texture of beef even turned me vegetarian for a few years as a teenager.

You may, therefore, relate to my trepidation when, having committed to a set menu, an incredibly delicate, rare serving of filet mignon happened across my plate recently. (I was dining al fresco, bare feet on a sandy beach, at Marker 88 in the gorgeous Florida Keys).

Not wanting to be rude and perhaps galvanized by the deep orange beauty of the sunset, I gave the dish a try. Herein I discovered the best beef I’ve ever tasted: juicy, succulent, soft, the fat crisped to perfection and encrusted with sea salt and pepper and served with creamy Dauphinoise.

Marker 88

Our next course at this fantastic restaurant – owned and operated by Bobby Stoky and open since 1967 – was a fish course. A fantastic sauteed mahi mahi cake to be precise, loaded with onion and white wine and served with lime-laced butter. It indeed rivaled the beef course.

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The clashing flavors of the salads at Marker 88, and indeed throughout the entire region, were also a revelation for me; a mixture of bright, bitter leaves, zingy red onion and crisp, sweet fruits. I was struck by the intense colors of the mangoes, strawberries, peppers and purple onions of my third course – ­ a cool, clean and crisp concoction, lightly dressed with olive oil with a pinch of lime juice. I’ve tried this at home and all I came up with was a gloopy, pungent mess. At Marker 88, it was a refreshing treat.

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For dessert, my party shared a humongous key lime pie, comprised of a lime juice, egg yolk and milk chilled and solidified within a crust, and topped with featherlight meringue and cream. Although its name is somewhat deceptive (few limes are grown in the region) The Keys are renowned for this cheesecake-like creation, and every eatery purports to serve the best in the state.

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Where Marker 88 comes in the contest I couldn’t say: every slice of Key Lime Pie I consumed during my recent visit seemed equally wonderful.Where Marker 88 certainly does have an edge over its competitors, though, is its beautiful surroundings. Indeed, eating outdoors seems only natural in this unforgiving Floridian climate.What’s more, given its location on one of the only natural beaches in the Keys and the fact it can host up to 250 people, and would make a dream wedding destination. Definitely one of the most memorable meals of my life so far.

Marker 88 88000 Overseas Highway, MM 88 Islamorada FL 33036 305-852-9315

www.marker88.info