The parade of New York restaurants and businesses branching out to Palm Beach and South Florida marches on and seems to increase in numbers by the day.
Two of Manhattan’s favorite buzzy bistros, transported to the center of Palm Beach Island, are going strong. La Goulue (lagouluepalmbeach.com), where diners are spilling out of open French doors, has been turning out food that is better than ever — you can indulge in foie gras, duck l’orange and Crepes Suzette; or stay light with perfect kushi oysters and roast chicken or a thick filet of perfectly cooked branzino.
Le Bilboquet, which opened last year, just expanded its service this month to include breakfast, and though shorts are frowned upon during dinner, they are welcome in the morning! Smoothies, juices and acai bowls share a menu with omelets, pastries and rosti, and there are also grab-and-go items.
One of the best received new spots of the season is Polpo in the Eau Resort and Spa (eaupalmbeach.com) an outpost of Ron Rosa’s beloved Italian restaurant in Greenwich, (Rosa also owned Campagnola and Ecco in NYC). The menu features the flagship’s most loved offerings such as meatballs a la nonna and burrata caprese, as well as fresh local seafood like snapper and pompano.
The Eau is also offering a series of spa packages, just for the month of February, so there is still time left. Don’t miss the Eau So Pampered Package which includes a facial that addresses hyperpigmentation, photo-aging, pore congestion and wrinkles. Choose two from a list of anti-aging treatments including an alpha beta peel, collagen with sculpting microcurrent, and collagen stimulating LED.
Maxwell’s Plum, another fabled New York restaurant, has been reborn, thanks to Jenny LeRoy, daughter of the late dining impresario Warner LeRoy, who created the original, along with Tavern on the Green. The new incarnation, located in Wellington where LeRoy has a horse farm, opened in December, displaying some of the brass fixtures, Lalique, murals, chandeliers and memorabilia from the ’70s institution. “Luckily, I had some beautiful pieces that my mother had stored from the original,’’ explains LeRoy. “We like to give people something to look at and to feel they are celebrating. That’s what my dad did well and I what I do well.’’ To that end, there will also be live music and a drag night. Among the standout items are steaks, pastas, brick oven pizzas, whole roasted snapper cooked in the brick oven and swordfish on the bone.
Swifty’s (thecolonypalmbeach.com) is also a reincarnation of a famous watering hole that opened in 1999 and closed in 2016. Owner Robert Caravaggio still oversees his room, which has a magical backdrop of The Colony’s pool. Monday nights have become quite a social hub, with witty hosts from Think and Drink conducting trivia, and even the most buttoned-up types getting in on the fun. While you are there, don’t miss the oak-smoked fish dip; roast cauliflower in a curry sauce; grilled pork chop with applesauce, mustard and candied yam; or bacon-wrapped meatloaf.
Sant Ambroeus (santambroeus.com) has become almost as much a part of the culture in Palm Beach as it is in New York, and of course the Hamptons, where it has taken over a second location in the former Babette’s space, due to be unveiled this summer. Start with a homemade soup if one is on offer, along with toasted sunflower bread with creamy burrata and fava bean spread. Pastas include a bolognese and conchiglie alla aragosta; and paccheri with a spicy San Marzano tomato sauce. Veal scallopini with mushrooms and truffle sauce is a heady favorite, and you can’t pass the pastry counter without swooning.
Manhattan breakfast hub Sadelle’s (sadelles.com) has transported its bagels, sticky buns and sturgeon to the newly transformed Boca Raton resort, where its owners, Major Food Group are also unveiling Italian and Japanese concepts. (They own West Village Italian juggernaut Carbone, so this is one to watch!)
The Boca Raton also has a new treatment at its Spa Palmera (which is inspired by the Alhambra Palace) that will make you feel thoroughly regal. The chakra-based hot gemstone massage employs obsidian black stone, volcanic stone and rose quartz combined with aromatherapy to improve energy and balance, and to help you recharge.
New Mediterranean waterfront restaurant Meso Beach House (mesorestaurants.com), is brought to us by the team that owns Meso in Rye, NY, praised for mushroom soup drizzled with truffle oil and octopus grilled over new potatoes. Opened just a few weeks, it already has a following.
Daniel Boulud, who owns one of New York’s most renowned French restaurants, Daniel, was one of the first to head south. His chic and romantic spot, Café Boulud (cafeboulud.com), has an outdoor area set in the beautiful fountained gardens of the Brazilian Court. The restaurant is also now offering lovely woven wicker vintage-style picnic baskets which can be enjoyed in one of the beautiful little parks scattered around Palm Beach, or on the sand. Pique-nique sur l’herbe by Café Boulud includes flatware, plates, glasses, a chilled bottle of Champagne and such treats as smoked salmon with chives radish and cucumber; basil waffle with mozzarella, salade Nicoise made with blue fin tuna, and scones with double cream.
It’s dueling baked Alaskas! Two new restaurants are serving the oversized versions of the classic dessert, both extremely Instagram-worthy. Ember Grill (embergrilldelray.com), in the new Ray Hotel, run by Click Hospitality, has a perfect dome of white chocolate and strawberry ice cream, covered in a thick layer of torched Italian meringue; while the pièce de résistance at Dune by Laurent Tourondel (dunebylt.com) tops chocolate and vanilla gelato, orange confit and hazelnut, with oversized marshmallows and bourbon. Tourondel, who has Steak Frites in New York and LT Burger in Sag Harbor, opened near the water in Fort Lauderdale, in a growing culinary area that already includes the fabulous Greek restaurant Thassos. He has created an airy white room that’s the perfect setting for spectacular sushi and such impressive dishes flatbread with figs, prosciutto, rosemary, gorgonzola and fontina, and roasted salmon with cauliflower couscous, honey-cumin roasted carrots and Greek yogurt.
There is a nostalgia wave in dining, and Henry’s (thebreakers.com), the latest addition to the Breakers dining empire is right on trend with such dishes as butter crumb Dover sole and chicken pot pie. American classics like filet mignon are also on the menu and of top quality, and there are new creative additions like avocado fries.
Meat Market (meatmarket.net), Palm Beach Island’s hopping steakhouse, has introduced a Champagne brunch with a DJ on Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Steak and eggs with green chili, corn salsa and cheddar scramble, brioche French toast and short rib hash.
It’s dinner and a show over at Chop’s Lobster Bar in Boca Raton (buckheadrestaurants.com), one of the most romantic places in Palm Beach. Seared prime meats and spectacular crustaceans accompanied by stellar wines spin by in a show orchestrated by maitre d’ Mo Ahmed, and customers are dressed to the nines, so sit back in a cozy leather banquette and enjoy the action.
Fish lovers will find a mecca in the new Corvina (corvinabocaraton.com), that opened this winter in Boca and is venturing away from predictable seafood. Local catch includes pumpkin swordfish, golden tilefish, yellow edge grouper and Key West shrimp.
There may be a wait for a table at Josie’s (josiesristorante.com) in Boynton Beach, just a block from the water, but its popularity is deserved. Red salad with radicchio, beets and watermelon radish is a cornucopia of textures and flavors, while halibut stuffed with lobster, shrimp and crab is a longtime crowd pleaser at this family run dining room. Tuesdays are particularly fun as there is live music and chef Sebastiano Setticasi’s housemade tortellini alla panna infused with onions, peas and drizzled with cream sauce is served up for just $10.