* Click here for rating key
The Rusty Pelican Restaurant Review: Location, location, location: For its first four decades this huge but charmingly rustic-looking restaurant was popular as a wedding and other special occasion pick mainly because of its waterfront home on Key Biscayne. The surprisingly non-seafood-centric menu was okay, if old-fashioned and over-priced, but really, it was all about the view. After closing for a much-needed $7 million renovation in 2011, including both a physical facelift and total menu revamp, it’s still all about the view, which is actually even better now thanks to an expansive 100-seat outdoor deck. In an evident effort to attract downtown Brickell hipsters, original re-launch executive chef Michael Gilligan, an upscale resort-dining veteran, added many shareable small plates to the menu. Sadly, though, both small and large dishes suffer from fine-dining fussiness --- too many ingredients; contrived combinations that seem to come from the head rather than the heart; etc. Most disappointingly, the menu still contains not much more of the main thing that would indeed draw hip Miami foodies in droves: impeccably fresh seafood, particularly sorts that swim in local waters but rarely show up on local menus. Sunset really is the best time of day for dining on the deck, from which dolphins are sometimes spotted: $39 for dinner and a show.