Sunset Sam’s, the seafood restaurant in the Key West wing of Gaylord Palms Resort, has likely been a memory maker for thousands of local couples. Grab a seat in the floating ship surrounded with splashing tarpon and set aglow by twinkling strung lights and the romance is basically handled for you.
So, when news broke that Sunset Sam’s would make way for a new dining concept this spring, many (me included) gasped!
But as the modern-day philosopher Paulo Coehlo (author of The Alchemist) once wrote: If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.
Say ‘hello’ to MOOR.
As we approached during a recent media visit, we breathed a sigh of relief to find that Sunset Sam’s iconic boat is still moored in Gaylord’s waters. But it wasn’t long before we discovered that the boat is the only thing remaining of the previous restaurant concept. Everything else had changed.
For starters, the kitschy Key West look has been replaced with a refreshing Tommy Bahamas veneer complete with champagne walls contrasted against dark mahogany ceiling beams. A living herb wall and an eight-foot ocean-scape print bring a pop of color to the newly expanded dining room and sprawling bar space.
MOOR is now a chic and elegant space where no longer does the boat house the only coveted tables. The dining room and huge outdoor terrace now duly vie for those patrons as well.
The fresh, elegant look made way for a parallel menu based on regionally inspired dishes and fresh seafood. An artisan blackboard, yet another lovely facet of MOOR, illustrates the ever-changing offering of local fare, both from land and sea, for a menu that touts line-caught fish, fresh cuts of local beef and signature delighters such as rock shrimp cocktail with tomato chow chow and seasonal risotto.
Specialty Chef Phillip Fisher, who moved from Ocean Key Resort and Spa in Key West to take the creative and culinary helm of the kitchen, certainly adds to the fresh, innovative feel of MOOR. A young, talented and delightfully enthusiastic chef, Fisher has joined with local farmer Henry Melendy of My Yard Farm to begin growing provisions on site or sourcing them within miles of the resort. Plans for an outdoor kitchen and on-site garden are well underway.
While seafood definitely takes center stage on the menu, including a rotating daily offering of Florida caught fish (cobia, grouper, mahi, snapper, etc.), you’ll also find a MOOR Burger, a few flatbreads and a Lake Meadows Chicken & Waffles entrée.
While the media tasting only offered a snippet of the flavors and culinary nuances to come, it was the perfect way to whet our appetite for more of MOOR’s superb seafood and creative cocktails. Tucked into a resort that had already captured our hearts over a decade ago, MOOR is a wonderful reason to head out for one of the best date night experiences currently offering in our area. Heck, make an overnight or a weekend out of it. We surely will.