The best restaurant in Wellington right now

photo The Grille restaurant
Maine Lobster Spring Salad at The Grille Fashion Cuisine in Wellington. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

This is the Wellington restaurant we’re loving best at the moment. Next month, the snapshot might be different.

The Grille, Wellington

It’s not unusual to spot equestrians in their riding gear at this stylish Wellington spot. It’s a reminder that you’re dining in horse country. It’s also Clayton Carnes country. He’s The Grille’s talented chef and co-owner, the guy who recently won an episode of Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen”. Carnes is a meat-lover’s chef, but delicious steaks is not all he does superbly – his menu, tailored to a mainstream but sophisticated set, is nicely varied. He also makes some pretty incredible gelato.

The Grille:12300 Southshore Blvd., Wellington; 561-793-2110.

Related: 20 best restaurants in Palm Beach County right now

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The 5 best restaurants in Palm Beach right now

photo HMF restaurant
The Brussels Sprouts Caesar at the HMF bar at The Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Here’s a current snapshot of Palm Beach restaurants we’re loving best at the moment. Next month, the snapshot might be different. This list includes only restaurants we have visited.

HMF at The Breakers, West Palm Beach

The Breakers’ snazzy lobby lounge, named after Breakers founder Henry Morrison Flagler, is a throw-back to the glam cocktail era – but it offers more than a nifty concept. The food is terrific. Pair the inspired bites with a classic cocktail or two and take in the vibe. For a little vintage drama, try the Baked Alaska.

HMF: In the lobby of The Breakers resort, 1 S. County Road, Palm Beach; 561-290-0104.

photo buccan
The Shortrib, Maine Lobster Roll, and Turkey Club from The Sandwich Shop at Buccan in Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Buccan – Palm Beach

Whether you stop in for one of chef Clay Conley’s supreme small plates (he’s masterful with raw fish and seafood dishes) or settle in for a 14-ounce, wood-grilled prime New York strip steak and a night of people-watching, you’ve come to the best bistro in Palm Beach. Reservations are a must.

Buccan: 350 S. County Road, Palm Beach; 561-833-3450.

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Maine Lobster roll, truffle aioli, garlic butter and lemon confit at the Meat Market restaurant in Palm Beach. (Bill Ingram / Palm Beach Post)

Meat Market, Palm Beach

This steakhouse in Palm Beach was voted ‘best restaurant’ in the Post’s 2015 Critic’s Choice Awards. Chef Sean Brasel has created a sleek temple of food and drink designed to wow diners beyond the carnivores. Yes, carnivores will find nirvana in a menu that offers a selection of reserve cuts, such as dramatically presented mega-steaks, all tender beneath a gorgeous char.

Meat Market Palm Beach: 191 Bradley Place, Palm Beach; 561-354-9800.

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Royal Red Shrimp, Poached Royal Red Shrimp with a collection of citrus, dill, cucumber, and nasturtium at Cafe Boulud in Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Café Boulud, Palm Beach

Chef Daniel Boulud’s Palm Beach eatery offers more than a stylish backdrop for dining — it offers some of the best food on the island. Executive chef Rick Mace is a true star, a culinary storyteller who knows how to capture the imagination and palate with food and presentation.

Café Boulud: 301 Australian Ave. (in The Brazilian Court hotel), Palm Beach; 561-655-6060.

photo pb catch restaurant
PB Catch serves a pan roasted Snowy Grouper. (Meghan McCarthy /Palm Beach Daily News)

PB Catch, Palm Beach

PB Catch not only has the best raw bar in town, where the fresh oyster selection is hard to beat, it has Chef de Cuisine Aaron Black’s fanciful “sea-cuterie” creations, as well as his beautifully prepared fish and seafood dishes. The interiors are serenely rich, the ambiance relaxed and the service polished.

PB Catch: 251 Sunrise Ave., Palm Beach; 561-655-5558.

Related: 20 best restaurants in Palm Beach County right now

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Tot-ally different St. Patrick’s Day shepherd’s pie

Farmette's Tater Tot Shepherd's Pie. (Photo credit: Imen McDonnell)
Behold Farmette’s Tater Tot Shepherd’s Pie! (Photo credit: Imen McDonnell)

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, a tale from the Irish countryside:

Before she was a farmer’s wife, Imen McDonnell lived the fast-paced life of an American broadcast producer in major U.S. cities.

The forces of love and Ireland changed all that. Nearly six years ago, those forces transformed McDonnell into the voice of “Farmette,” the popular lifestyle blog inspired by her daily life at an ancient, family-owned farm in County Limerick.

FarmetteCoverFood lovers and vicarious travelers everywhere have reaped the benefits of McDonnell’s lushly photographed culinary inspirations as she put her American city spin on Irish country fare.

Today, as evidenced in her newly released book, “The Farmette Cookbook,” she has stacks of stellar recipes to show for her kitchen experiments that include boldly hybrid dishes such as Tater Tot Shepherd’s Pie. (For which she makes her own tots.)

Related: Best Irish pubs to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Palm Beach County

Dear St. Patrick’s Day revelers, what goes better with a pint of Guinness than shepherd’s pie? Perhaps a better rhetorical question is: What goes better with a big, frosty mug of green beer than shepherd’s pie topped with crispy tots?

Here’s McDonnell’s recipe. You’re welcome!

Read the full story on Farmette’s new book in The Post’s Food & Dining.

TATER TOT SHEPHERD’S PIE

“Shepherd’s pie was one of my first forays into the basics of Irish country cooking… More recently, I began experimenting with ways to reinvent this classic pie. Inspired by craving a tater-tot hotdish (a Midwestern American casserole), I lined the top of my shepherd’s pie with homemade tots, and it was much more fun than standard mash.”

Serves 4

1 tablespoon sunflower or canola oil, plus more for frying

1 large onion, chopped

2 to 3 medium carrots, chopped

1 pound ground lamb

2 tablespoons tomato purée

Splash of Worcestershire sauce

2 cups lamb or beef stock

For the tots:

4 large russet potatoes, baked and cooled

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons fine salt

  1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then cook the onion and carrots for about 10 minutes, until softened. Turn up the heat, crumble in the lamb, and brown, pouring off any excess fat. Add the tomato purée and Worcestershire sauce; fry for a few more minutes until browned. Pour in the stock, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for another 20 minutes to reduce the liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and shred them on the large holes of a box grater. Transfer to a large bowl, sprinkle in the flour and salt, and gently mix until combined.
  3. Scoop 1½ tablespoons of the potato mixture into a short cylinder, about 1½ inches long and ¾ inch wide. Press the mixture in tightly and then press the tots onto a baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining potato mixture.
  4. Line a second baking sheet with paper towels; set aside. Pour ¼ inch of oil into a large frying pan and set over medium-high heat until hot, about 5 minutes. Fry the tots in batches of 8 to 10 pieces (do not overcrowd the pan), turning once, until light golden brown on both sides, about 1 to 2 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tots to the paper-towel-lined baking sheet, and season with salt. Repeat for all the tots.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  6. Put the meat mixture into an ovenproof dish. Top with the tots to completely cover the meat. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tots are starting to turn golden brown and the mince is bubbling through at the edges. Serve with a salad of crisp garden greens.

Scullery Notes: You can freeze tater tots for future use: Let the fried tots cool, then transfer them to an airtight container or ziplock bag. Arrange them in a single layer in the container or bag and place them in the freezer. You can also just pile the shredded potato on top of the filling and bake as directed.

This recipe and the author intro are reprinted from “The Farmette Cookbook,” by Imen McDonnell, with the permission of Roost Books, an imprint of Shambhala Publications Inc., Boulder, Colo.

Read the full story on Farmette’s new book in The Post’s Food & Dining.

The 7 best restaurants in West Palm Beach right now

photo Grato restaurant
Parmesan polenta with wild mushroom ragout and roasted tomatoes is served at Grato in West Palm Beach. (Contributed by LibbyVision.com)

Here’s a current snapshot of West Palm Beach restaurants we’re loving best at the moment. Next month, the snapshot might be different. This list includes only restaurants we have visited.

Grato, West Palm Beach

The fab new pizzeria on South Dixie Highway has been packed every night since its debut. Evenings at Grato, opened by the powerhouse team behind Palm Beach’s wildly popular Buccan bistro, is marked by the glow of a wood-burning pizza oven. Grato’s non-fussy menu lists crostini, pizza, pasta, salad and roasted meats.

Grato: 1901 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-404-1334.

photo la sirena restaurant
The Branzino Sirena at Marcello’s La Sirena restaurant in West Palm Beach. (J. Gwendolynne Berry/The Palm Beach Post)

La Sirena, West Palm Beach

Chef and restaurateur Marcello Fiorentino has set the standard in fine Italian dining here. His fresh-made dishes and service are impeccable. His wine list is stellar as well, as underscored by “Wine Spectator,” which bestowed its Grand Award on La Sirena last year. This place of understated elegance is a must for any local who loves excellently prepared, authentic Italian food.

Marcello’s La Sirena: 6316 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-585-3128.

photo kitchen restaurant
The chicken schnitzel is Chef Matthew Byrne’s favorite dish at Kitchen, the restaurant he co-owns with his wife, Aliza. (Contributed by LibbyVision.com)

Kitchen, West Palm Beach

Chef Matthew Byrne creates refined takes on comfort classics while his wife/partner, Aliza Bryne, keeps a gracious pace in the front of the house. The menu is seasonally inspired and beautifully executed. In addition to the small main dining room, there’s a lounge area as well as a private dining room to accommodate larger parties. Reservations are strongly recommended.

Kitchen: 319 Belvedere Road, #2, West Palm Beach; 561-249-2281.

Filet Black & White, two tenderloin medallions, two jumbo shrimp, portabella demi glade and bearnaise, at the Okeechobee Steakhouse. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)
Filet Black & White, two tenderloin medallions, two jumbo shrimp, portabella demi glade and bearnaise, at the Okeechobee Steakhouse. (Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

Okeechobee Steakhouse, West Palm Beach

Expect no foodie lingo here, no “artisan” this or “hand-crafted” that, no menus tripped up in adjectives. But you will find a mighty fine steak. And you will find stellar service, the kind of service that brings you back to the warm, welcoming time capsule that is Okeechobee Steakhouse.

Okeechobee Steakhouse: 2854 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561-683-5151.

photo avocado grill
The Guacamole prepared at the Avocado Grill in downtown West Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

Avocado Grill, West Palm Beach

There’s a good reason why Chef Julien Gremaud’s hip, sunny eatery is a busy spot at night: His small plates and shareable selections are both refined and decadent. But why limit your visit to this downtown West Palm eatery to nighttime when it serves one of the best weekend brunches in the county? Gremaud’s eggs Benedict dishes are sinful, as are his gently scrambled eggs dusted with piment d’Espelette, and his crab-avocado toast topped with an oozy egg. And if you’re lucky, that day’s special menu will include his outstanding rendition of shrimp and grits. The Jerez-spiked shrimp alone are worth the price of admission.

Avocado Grill: 125 Datura St., West Palm Beach; 561-623-0822.

photo queen of sheeba
“Sambusa” pastries stuffed with a choice of lentil or meat and served with spicy cilantro-jalapeno sauce are offered at Queen of Sheeba. (Damon Higgins / The Palm Beach Post)

Queen of Sheeba, West Palm Beach

Voted the ‘best new restaurant’ in the Post’s 2015 Critic’s Choice Awards, Queen of Sheeba is South Florida’s only Ethiopian restaurant. The Ethiopian-born restaurant owner and cook, Lojo Washington, presents the foods of her native land and the lightly sour injera bread, which serves as a scoop for stewed dishes and veggies she serves.

Queen of Sheeba: 716 N. Sapodilla Ave., West Palm Beach; 561-514-0615.

photo pistache restaurant
Gnocchi “Parisienne” at Pistache French Bistro. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Pistache, West Palm Beach

It’s easy to see why Pistache has become a favorite on finicky Clematis Street: French favorites offered with a sophisticated touch, warm hospitality, lovely setting. The bistro never fails to impress. Come for lunch, dinner, cocktails or one of the most pleasant, a la carte Sunday brunches in central county.

Pistache: 101 N. Clematis St., #115, West Palm Beach; 561-833-5090.

Related: Six new-ish restaurants in Jupiter and Tequesta

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National Pi Day: Celebrate with best pies in Palm Beach County

Testa's strawberry pie. (Chris Salata/ Palm Beach Daily News)
Testa’s strawberry pie. (Chris Salata/ Palm Beach Daily News)

 

It’s National Pi Day, and yeah, yeah, we know it’s really about math, but after a hard day of calculations, what’s better than pie?

Here are four places for four great slices:

1. Strawberry Pie at Testa’s

This strawberry-rich pie is a signature dessert at this historic Palm Beach restaurant.

Testa’s: 221 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach; 561-832-0992; TestasRestaurants.com

The Living Room's peanut butter pie. (LibbyVision.com)
The Living Room’s peanut butter pie. (LibbyVision.com)

2. Peanut Butter Pie at the Living Room

This ice box pie is Living Room owner Lisa Mercado’s gift to peanut butter lovers. For the decadent finish, she tops it with chocolate ganache.

The Living Room: 1709 North Congress Ave., Boynton Beach; 561-742-4399

The "Whoopie Pie" at HMF, The Breakers. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
The “Whoopie Pie” at HMF, The Breakers. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

3. Whoopie Pie at the HMF Bar at The Breakers

This warm “pie” is actually made of chocolate cake that’s layered with Chantilly cream and topped with hot fudge.

HMF at The Breakers: 1 S. County Road, Palm Beach; 561-655-6611; HMFPalmBeach.com

Key lime pie at Madisons. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)
Key lime pie at Madisons. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)

4. Key Lime Pie at Madisons

Post reviewer Carlos Frias raved about this American pie earlier this year: “The buttery filling is velvety smooth, subtle, without the tartness to pucker your face … Cut down deep enough through the two-inch-thick pie to reach a crust made of homemade graham crackers and crushed caramelized pecans. The crust alone could be served as a menu item. The chef tops that perfect crust with homemade whipped cream and carefully drizzles it with a lime coulis, a tangy sauce made from pureed and strained key limes.”

Madisons New York Grill & Bar: 2006 NW Executive Center Circle, Boca Raton; 561-994-0808

 

Twitter: @LizBalmaseda

This restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens got a great review by the Post!

photo the cooper restaurant
An artisanal cheese board is served at The Cooper in Palm Beach Gardens. Varieties of cheese and sliced meats can be custom-picked by the diner. (Contributed by LibbyVision.com)

This our weekly look back at some of our recommended dining experiences:

With a farmhouse-meets-glam setting, lively ambiance and delicious grub, The Cooper is decidedly (still) the new hot spot on PGA Boulevard’s dining corridor in Palm Beach Gardens.

The concept is stylized – and beautifully so. But there’s more than “farm-to-table” concept going on here. The menu is friendly to all palates, appetites and food preferences, as The Cooper — which serves lunch, dinner and a popular Sunday brunch — offers snacks, small plates and heftier portions.

Thanks to The Cooper’s executive chef, Adam Brown, the dishes are not simply a composition of ingredients, but a celebration of them. A seasonal veggie plate takes on a sumptuous dimension as the “Farmer’s Market Vegetable Palette.” Brown’s flavor-forward style shines through in the simplest of condiments, such as the bright and herby salsa verde that accompanies The Cooper’s steaks.

The Cooper Craft Kitchen & Bar: 4610 PGA Blvd. (Suite 100, PGA Commons), Palm Beach Gardens; 561-622-0032.

Related: Full dining review – Cooper is the new destination dining spot on PGA Corridor

Related: Six new-ish restaurants in Jupiter and Tequesta

 

Readers’ Choice: What’s your favorite weekend brunch spot? Vote now!

best-brunch -solicit-1000

Hello, friends! Question for you Bloody Mary-sipping, Eggs Benny-loving brunchers: What is your favorite weekend brunch spot in Palm Beach County?

Based on your feedback on our social posts, we compiled the following list of choices. Now it’s time to vote! We’ll announce the winner in the coming weeks.

 

Chipotle closes in Massachusetts: Would you still eat there?

photo chipotle food
Chipotle. (Contributed photo)

UPDATE: March 9, 2016. 

A Chipotle in Massachusetts has shut down because an employee has been diagnosed with the norovirus.

Here’s what we wrote during Chipotle’s recent string of health issues:

The Palm Beach Post spoke to Chipotle devotees who say the hundreds of cases of food-born illnesses at the restaurants last year won’t keep them from giving the chain their business.

What about you? Will you still eat at Chipotle?

Post picks: Best pancakes in Palm Beach County

(BECKYSTEINPHOTOGRAPHY.COM)
(BECKYSTEINPHOTOGRAPHY.COM)

Going out for breakfast? We have picked some of the best syrupy, sweet yummy cakes around!

Here’s our list of the best pancakes in the county:

almond joy pancakes

  • Almond Joy Pancakes at Pete’s Place. The Greenacres landmark loads the batter with chocolate chips, then tops the finished ‘cakes with more choco chips, chocolate syrup, slivered almonds and coconuts. It’s like starting your day with a triple-layer cake. 6774 Forest Hill Blvd., Greenacres, 561-641-6543

Related: How to get free pancakes today!

Funky Monkey Panky-Doos at The Nook (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)
Funky Monkey Panky-Doos at The Nook (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)
  • Funky Monkey Panky-Doos at The Nook. The friendly staff at this popular eatery challenges you to say “Panky-Doo” without smiling. For the Funky Monkey version, the cooks call upon the wonders of chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and bananas. The result: Breakfast magic. 223 Center St., Jupiter, 561-745-7477

pancakes

  • Hazelnut UEPs at Juno Beach Cafe. Working from their 54-year-old recipe for Uncle Eddie’s Pancakes, the Juno Beach Cafe dolls up their trademark ‘cakes with Nutella, sliced strawberries, powdered sugar, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. How do you spell “yum”? “UEP.” 13967 U.S. 1, Juno Beach, 561-622-1533

Banana Pancakes

  • Banana Nut Cakes at Benny’s on the Beach. Pecans, almonds and walnuts hijack these flapjacks, which hide under even more chopped nuts and sliced bananas. All those nuts mean this plate contains at least one serving of protein, right? Nod in agreement, please. Lake Worth Pier, 10 S. Ocean Blvd., Lake Worth, 561-582-9001

Kona Bay Cafe's blueberry pancakes

  • Blueberry Pancakes at The Green Owl. There are some dishes that linger in your mind years after you cleaned your plate. The Green Owl’s satisfying standard-issue pancakes are one of those. Nothing fancy. Just fantastic fare in a funky, 33-year-old diner. 330 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach, 561-272-7766.

Restaurant news: Park Avenue BBQ in Jupiter to open within week

The chalkboard sign outside Park Avenue BBQ's Tequesta branch says farewell to customers. (Larry Aydlette/The Palm Beach Post)
The chalkboard sign outside Park Avenue BBQ’s Tequesta branch says farewell to customers. (Photos: Larry Aydlette/The Palm Beach Post)

Saturday was the last call for barbecue, wings and burgers at Park Avenue BBQ in Tequesta.

The long-time branch of the local restaurant chain has closed as it gets ready to open a new location on Indiantown Drive in Jupiter, in the old Applebee’s near the I-95 interchange.

Wait staff said the new Jupiter location should be open in about a week.

There are a couple of questions for long-time customers of the old location:

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What happens to the Pabst Blue Ribbon ceiling mural? It apparently won’t fit in the industrial-style ceiling of the new location, but wait staff said Saturday that it might end up in another Park Avenue location.

And here’s hoping they don’t forget the Elvis sign:

photo-2