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One Bite and You’ll Seek Out Hideaway Café

Review in The L'Atitudes, Saturday, February 8, 2002

Steaks cooked to perfection every time.  

If you are looking for fine dining in the Middle Keys in the true sense of the phrase, look no further than the Hideaway Café.

Fine dining means terrific food served beautifully in a formal yet warm setting, and attentive service, all at a leisurely but reasonable pace.  Of course all of this comes at a price, a premium price.

Located in the Rainbow Bend Resort, the restaurant overlooks the ocean.  Though entirely enclosed, the windowed porch provides diners with a nice view.

The Hideaway Café is known for its beef and rightly so.  While the seafood entrees are excellent, go for the steaks.  To prove that steaks are its true forte, just after we arrived, the maitre d’ brought a sample of its biggest steak, the Hideaway rib steak, to the table for our approval.  This 2,400 calorie monstrosity weighs in at 2.5 pounds and would challenge even the heartiest eater.  Fortunately, there are a number of saner, though still more than ample choices and based upon a recent visit, they are truly excellent.

Actually, with the exception of just one of the desserts, every choice our party of four made at the Hideaway was unsurpassed.

Shortly after our arrival, the waiter brought out a loaf of warm French bread that was lightly toasted and accompanied by a small bowl of chopped tomatoes and herbs.  The latter, known as bruschetta, was a nice, light touch and a great starter.

I ordered one of the special appetizers, a cup of shrimp bisque.  It was heavenly, thick broth laced with a generous portion of small pieces of cooked shrimp.  Other regular appetizers include escargot a la Edison – a dish for which the Hideaway is renowned – as well as clam and mussel soup, a seafood crepe, and Norwegian smoked salmon.

The house salad turns out to be a delicious Caesar’s salad. Now, very few restaurants actually make the traditional Caesar’s anymore, and the Hideaway doesn’t either.  No one wants to risk the raw egg and many people don’t like anchovies.  However, this was a more than respectable imitation with an assortment of fresh greens, a delicious light dressing, and topped with finely grated Parmesan.

The steaks, however were the pieces de resistance.  There were two filets on the menu – one grilled to order and served with a pleasant and light béarnaise and one that’s sliced and flamed with cognac, garlic and shrimp.  I tried the former and it was butter tender and cooked absolutely to perfection.  Many times when one orders a steak medium, it either comes to pink or to well done.  This was just as I had ordered it.

A companion also went for beef and tried the Hideaway’s chateaubriand.  It was also a delicious piece of meat and came with some assorted vegetables and potatoes – a bouguettiere.  Another companion ordered the rack of lamb: Tender with a delicious hint of rosemary, though the spicy crust was perhaps a bit to salty.

The Hideaway also features beef Wellington, a New York Strip steak, and a variation on surf and turf that includes shrimp.

To round out the choices, the fourth member of our party ordered a sautéed hog snapper that was the special of the day.  I have rarely tasted better in the Middle Keys.  The fish was fresh, light, and had a wonderful flavor.  Other seafood offering included seafood crepes, shrimp wrapped in bacon, seafood putanesca, and something the restaurant calls seafood Wellington that’s backed in a puff pastry like the conventional beef dish.

For those who can’t handle all the meat, the Hideaway also includes a couple of chicken dishes on the menu.  Surprisingly, for such an upscale place, there is also a children’s menu, something you don’t see often in the Keys.

To top it all off, we indulged in a truly decadent and wonderful soufflé that had a kind of cake topping and a chocolate mousse interior.  It was as good as it sounds.  The other dessert was our only disappointment.  It was a large chocolate cake that was described as having a meringue topping.  The cake was quite ordinary and the meringue tasted more like conventional frosting.  Oh well.

The Hideaway Café is truly a special treat.  With entrees ranging from $20 t $35 and with the more than ample portions of beef, you won’t go every week.  However, if you’re looking for a reliable and truly delicious meal served with panache, I highly recommend it.



Hideaway Cafe
Located at the Rainbow Bend Resort
MM58, Grassy Key, Florida
(305) 289-1554
Reservations are Recommended

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