Fun with Bill & Jane in Palm Beach: The Season Begins, Shopping Abounds

Bill Boggs (left) and Jane Rothchild (right) with singer Carla Holbrook and guitarist/fiancé Manny Moreira, who performed for the Palm Beach Jazz Society
Bill Boggs (left) and Jane Rothchild (right) with singer Carla Holbrook and guitarist/fiancé Manny Moreira, who performed for the Palm Beach Jazz Society

Bill Boggs: Well, hi there. Once again, the kindly people at our beloved Dan’s Papers Palm Beach have asked us to share a little bit about our lives down here, and to give you an assessment of the vibe, as the storied, elegant, barrier island town of Palm Beach moves into “The Season.”

The tempo of the social life and philanthropic fundraisers is in full swing, and the calendars for the dance, music and art venues are packed with activities. It feels a bit like East Hampton in July and August with fewer impatient New Yorkers horn-honking and no frazzled vacationers staggering off a five-hour Jitney ride limping into The Palm for multiple martinis to erase the experience.

The "girls with the pearls" at BrickTops: Aleve, Audrey and Cindel
The “girls with the pearls” at BrickTops: Aleve, Audrey and Cindel

Restaurants, of course, are packed and once again the well-dressed denizens of Palm Beach are trying to crack the Enigma Code of securing a table at Le Bilboquet at any time other than 5 p.m. We have a Bilbo secret number, we’d like to share it, but had to sign a three-page non-disclosure agreement to get it. All is not lost. We have other restaurants we heartily recommend.

Sant Ambroeus, already a hit in Southampton, and likely to be the same in East Hampton, has a beautiful location in the Royal Poinciana Plaza with sought-after valet parking and large outdoor dining. We like BrickTop’s on South County Road in Palm Beach. The hostesses at the front desk at “Bricky’s” all wear black dresses with strings of pearls and are quite friendly and accommodating. Call for a res, or walk in and try your luck if you are not aiming for a peak time.

La Sirena maître d' Andres Gutierrez
La Sirena maître d’ Andres Gutierrez

A smaller place with a good-looking clientele and excellent Italian food is La Sirena on Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach. The maître d’ there is Andres Gutierrez, a true pro as a host. When you meet him, you know he immediately aims to please, even if you end up eating at the bar.

Two music institutions we support are the Palm Beach Jazz Society and the Palm Beach Chamber Music Society. Each show is a major event, not just for the talent displayed, but because  — more than you generally might see at comparable music performances in our Hamptons — the Palm Beach crowd really dresses up for these occasions.

Designer dresses (no costume jewelry allowed) and pricey embroidered velvet shoes on men are not uncommon. At recent shows we were entranced by a rare string octet with double bass, and at the Jazz Society the popular South Florida duo of Carla and Manny wove a spell with bossa nova music.

Jean Dolan, head of the Palm Beach Jazz Society
Jean Dolan, head of the Palm Beach Jazz Society

The chamber music generally takes place in a comfortable space at the Norton Museum of Art after the museum is closed. A recent Jazz Society performance was in the party room of the National Croquet Center. Next to chess, croquet may be the most quiet of any participatory sport. I watched one game for a while and all I heard were a couple of clicks of balls hitting other balls.

There’s no booming music bombarding you like during the changeovers at the U.S. Open, or rock anthems between the innings of baseball games, just “click … click …” and maybe a whispered, “Oh my, poor stroke, missed that split shot, shucks.”

Then, of course, there is Worth Avenue and the shopping. Jane, that’s your speciality, a few comments, please…

Jane Rothchild: I was thrilled to see that a shoe store that I patronize, Rangoni, had not gone out of business but had just moved down the block. They carry “affordable” and comfortable footwear for Palm Beach. Every top-of-the-line designer has a presence along the several blocks of Worth Avenue, even RealReal.

After hours of walking, shopping, trying-on and schlepping bags, you’ll find plenty of refuge in restaurants tucked into the many little corridors and courtyards along the way. More than Madison Avenue, Worth offers a European type of charm. I say to really experience Worth Avenue, it takes a full day.

That’s it for now, life is good. We are blessed, but we’ve got our eyes on the calendar, when May will beckon us for a return to the unparalleled beauty, space and grace of the South Fork of Long Island.

Bill Boggs is an Emmy-winning TV host and author of the satirical novel The Adventures of Spike the Wonder Dog. Follow Boggs @realbillboggs on Instagram and BillboggsTV on YouTube.

 Jane Rothchild is a former real estate broker, businesswoman and Emmy-winning television producer.

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