It's no secret that Conch Island Key West Bar & Grill (aka, “party central” – or at least one of them – on Rehoboth Avenue) is a fun, upbeat, noisy and festive place to enjoy the hubbub of downtown Rehoboth Beach. But what a lot of people don't know (including me, until now) is that this watering hole in the Sandcastle Motel has a new food lineup that's worth exploring. Longtime Rehoboth businessman, former professional drummer and former law enforcement officer Bryan Derrickson is a hands-on owner who makes sure he’s able to whip up anything and everything his cooks come up with – just in case. Smart.
While none of us were looking, Bryan created a menu that is the culmination of his travels all over the country – with an accent on Key West, of course. Put 2+2 together and of course conch fritters come to mind. A crunchy crust on these little homemade orbs encases a particularly flavorful filling. And the tasty dipping sauce is not for the feint of heart! The combination works quite nicely.
I have to tell you that one of the stars of the show is the Bahamian-style conch chowder. Wonderfully spiced, you must might order a second one and make it a meal! See it in the gallery. Another hidden gem on the menu is the Key West Pink Peel ‘n' Eats. These massive shrimp are served as a half-pound or a full pound – there's about 10-12 to the pound, so you can imagine their size. We also tried the garlic-parmesan wings – quite tasty. I like that they kept their crunch in spite of the added cheese mixture.
Part of Bryan's upgrade to the menu at Conch Island Key West Bar & Grill is the addition of a surprisingly nice filet mignon (“surprisingly” referring to the fact that this is a busy music bar that was formerly known for not paying all that much attention to the food). Not only is it a nice filet, but the Mallory Square Sunset version is loaded with snow-white crabmeat. Jumbo lump, yet, with a mild, slightly buttery sauce. The steak was tender and cooked to temperature.
Stuffed Peppers. Like it hot?1/11 Blue Heaven burger2/11 An off-menu cheesesteak. Packed full with beef.3/11 Conch Island Chowder. Very nicely spiced4/11 Conch fritter. Of course.5/11 Sliders. Mahi and crabcake6/11 That tasty filet with crabmeat7/11 garlic/parm wing8/11 Crab dip/buffalo bacon flatbread9/11 beef tacos10/11 The Blue Heaven11/11
If you like burgers, you won't want to miss the Blue Heaven Burger – named after the Key West bar that originated the idea of topping a burger with bacon and eggs. Often, in Key West, I remember not really knowing what time it was. So the burger/bacon/egg combo covers all the bases. Take a look at this one in the gallery. Another great burger at Conch Island Key West Bar & Grill is the Bacon Blue Burger. The roll works well holding everything together, the blue cheese is quite sharp and works perfectly with the extra-crispy bacon. This one is a must-get for bacon cheeseburger lovers.
Bryan was kind enough to bring out a combo plate of his mahi sliders and his crab cake sliders. I'm pretty sure this combo would not be a menu item, but if you scroll through the gallery you can get an idea of how these tasty little sliders look. The crabcakes are all jumbo lump, and the minimal filler enhances the delicate taste of the crab.
Another sleeper is the flatbread. (Flatbread: The word many people use for “pizza” when they don't want to be caught eating pizza. Hello: it's pizza.) Again, we were lucky to receive a bit of a sampler version made up of the Buffalo Chicken version (with crispy bacon) and the crab dip version. They are both good, but I will certainly order that chicken one again.
Is Conch Island Key West Bar & Grill fine dining? Of course not. It's a big bar with lots of bar seats, hi-tops and live music pretty much every night in season. But you might be surprised at what Bryan Derrickson has done with the menu. If you haven't been there in a while, give it a try. He's pretty proud of it. Not lovin' the idea of live music? No problem: They are open at dinnertime. Stay late, hear the music. Or nibble and escape. Your call.
Conch Island Key West Bar & Grille is located at the corner of Second St. and Rehoboth Avenue in downtown Rehoboth Beach. They are open 7 days in season: Mon.-Thurs. 4-1; and Fri., Sat., Sun, noon-1. You can call them at 302-226-9378.