The Key Club Brings Familiar American Classics to Coconut Grove

David Grutman’s Groot Hospitality has tackled just about every cuisine—vegan, Asian, steakhouse—and vibe, from supper club to laid-back diner to upscale bistro. So, what’s left? Lots more, we’re sure, but for now, he’s setting his sights on the new American grill concept. It’s the approachable yet sophisticated restaurant that’s at once modest and elaborate with the slight edge you’ve come to expect from a Grutman joint.

The Key Club in the newly transformed CocoWalk complex is a sprawling outdoor/door restaurant that serves a progressive modern American menu—think comforting classics like steaks and potato sides as well as modern favorites like sushi, grilled artichokes and large entrée salads. If the menu sounds a bit like what you’d find at something by the Hillstone Restaurant Group, there’s certainly a resemblance. The Chicken Sandwich, for instance, is suspiciously close to Houston’s famous Ding’s Crispy Chicken Sandwich, down to the kale slaw. While the bar area rivals the happy hour rush you expect from Coral Gables’ Hillstone. As the saying goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And having The Key Club in Coconut Grove means more of the dishes we love served in a location that’s closer, at least for some.

A proper meal The Key Club needs to include most, if not all, of the following: Chips and Caviar (like your mom’s semi-homemade onion dip but way better), the aforementioned Grilled Artichokes, the Shrimp Cobb Salad (a remix of Winker’s famous lobster cobb), the Coconut Lobster Roll (the perfect mix of sweet and savory in a sushi roll) and the Veal Chop Milanese (a monster thin-and-breaded piece of meat that’s ideal for sharing). The various steaks and salads are, of course, excellent, as are the sides, which consist of addictive Truffle Fries, Crispy Brussels Sprouts and other assorted veggies.

The bar is almost regularly a scene, but seated diners will never have to wait long for a cocktail. The Key Club has mastered the ordering process: Servers tap your requests into a small pad that syncs with the bar, guaranteeing your drink arrives within minutes. Some drinks worth trying include the Short Stack, a fall-inspired blend of Haig Club scotch whiskey, apple, clove, lemon and applewood smoke that’s finished off tableside and Under the Gun, a peppery mix of Dos Hombres mezcal, 818 blanco tequila, cardamom, pepper and Owen’s craft grapefruit soda. The Key Club loves its celebrity-owned spirits.

Groot Hospitality corporate pastry chef Dallas Wynne is in charge of desserts, which means you’ll want to order one of everything on the menu. The Piña Colada Pavlova is sweet and refreshing while the Warm Brownie with salted caramel and malted milk ice cream is stick-to-your-ribs satisfying. Truly, you can’t go wrong with any.

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