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The temperatures may still be flirting with the 90s, but there’s something in the air that harkens to cooler days ahead. That’s why we picked a nice outdoor spot for our late Sunday lunch, and with the help of a few fans, we were enjoying comfortable waterside dining at the SpeakEasy.

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From our table we watched the fish feed and play, and among the usual suspects, like mullet, was this one little black fish that looked like he belonged in someone’s aquarium. The waitstaff said the fish has been visiting for about a week. He seemed to be a real cutie, craving human attention.

On to the food. I ordered the “Mile-High Club” with ham, turkey, bacon, avocado, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo and your choice of white, wheat or rye bread.

This sandwich is a monster; it comes cut in quarters and each was too thick to fit in my mouth. This sandwich is more than the sum of its parts; the tomato is diced, and the ingredients are layered uniquely and perfectly; the avocado layer near a generous bacon layer. The cheese is thick, but not too thick.     

You have your choice of sides: fries, sweet potato fries, cole slaw or onion rings. I picked the sweet potato fries. While they were great; this sandwich deserves some homemade potato chips on the side; just a suggestion.

My partner in dine picked the monster parmesan meatball sub with marinara and mozzarella cheese and served on a hoagie roll. As you can see from the photo, this is a generous sandwich that’s also more than a mouthful. He picked the fries, which were crunchier than mine and were absolutely addictive.  

Looking back at my first review of the SpeakEasy from June 2018 (for dinner), we sampled the Asian calamari, which the menu says is deep-fried calamari with stir fried vegetables in a sweet chili sauce. The vegetables were mostly, if not all, cabbage; but it was a sweet and spicy delight. I would rate this among the top three calamari dishes I’ve had, and as regular readers know, I try the calamari just about everywhere I go. It’s about time that someone put a new spin on this appetizer, instead of the regular old fried and served with marinara – which they do have, if you must.

For my main dish, I had the blackened salmon. It came topped with a lemon butter beurre banc sauce and sautéed spinach. You get your choice of potato, masked or baked. I substituted for rice, as I prefer it with the sauce – a culinary delight of shallots, bay leaf peppercorns, vinegar and wine. So yummy. It’s like they were giving this salmon the same treatment as a fine cut of beef. And as a limited beef eater, I approve. It was nice to welcome all these ingredients on the same plate.

On the heels of the successful appetizer, my partner in dine decided to order the sweet chili shrimp, featuring the same sauce as the calamari. So, this time, breaded coconut butterflied shrimp sat atop a bowl full of linguini, with peppers, onions and the sweet chili sauce.

My dining bud seemed a little overwhelmed with all that pasta. And perhaps it was his experience with the appetizer, but he was ultimately not sold on this dish. A little too sweet and not enough savory; along with pasta he described as rubbery.

Sometimes a dish and the diner don’t match. Personally, I would have used grilled shrimp, kept the sweet chili sauce, but used the veggies from the appetizer and put it over a bed of rice or leafy greens.  

This is a great spot for waterside dining and the staff is friendly and offers great service.

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the name, from their website: “A speakeasy was an establishment which illegally sold alcoholic beverages during Prohibition, from 1920-1932. The term comes from a patron’s manner of ordering an alcoholic drink without raising suspicion. Bartenders would tell patrons to be quiet and ‘speak easy.’ ”

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This newspaper pays for all meals related to dining reviews. We do not solicit or accept free food.

If you go

The SpeakEasy

  • 1106 North Collier Boulevard, Marco Island
  • 239-970-2929
  • speakeasymarco.com
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