Golf star Ernie Els is taking his culinary interests to Miami. The Jupiter resident known as “The Big Easy” is set to open a downtown area restaurant inspired by his South African roots and passion for wine.
The announcement came this week from the Miami-based Grove Bay Hospitality Group, which partnered with the Hall of Famer and plans a 200-seat restaurant inspired by Els’ “lifestyle and spirit.”
The upscale-casual grill restaurant will carry the flavors (and wines) of the Western Cape region of Els’ native South Africa. A South African native chef with extensive experience in American restaurants will command the kitchen, creating comfort dishes from Els’ motherland.
On Chef Maryna Frederiksen’s menu: unusual meats like sprinkbok (gazelle) loin and ostrich filet, “bobotie” spring rolls (stuffed with traditionally spiced ground beef curry), “sosatie” mini skewers and grilled boerewors (a sausage that is said to be Els’ favorite).
Yes, there will be burgers, as well as Florida seafood and fish, and universal dishes like lobster risotto.
For the pairing, there will be a variety of Ernie Els Wines, which the golfer produces with winemaker Louis Strydom. Perhaps this is what Els is most excited about.
“One of the really wonderful things about Big Easy Winebar & Grill is the opportunity it gives Louis and me to share our passion for wine and to introduce our portfolio of wines, of which we’re extremely proud, to a wider audience,” Els said via news release.
All this in a setting reminiscent of the Western Cape, with imported wood touches, clay pottery, white brick walls and leather seating.
Miami will be the first U.S. location for the Big Easy concept, which has three locations in South Africa and Dubai.
The restaurant is expected to open Nov. 3 at the upcoming Brickell City Centre in Miami’s financial district, near downtown. It will serve a weekday lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., dinner nightly from 4 to 11 p.m. and Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Pastry Chef Sarah Sipe made this sweet confection for the visiting press and lucky for you it’s a permanent menu item. It includes toasted house-made marshmallow, almonds and a chocolate sauce. We also sampled a yummy coconut cake.
The Burgers & Brew event takes place Sunday at Eau’s stunning new oceanfront lounge, Breeze Ocean Kitchen, from 1 to 5 p.m.
An entry fee of $35 per person buys you all-you-can-eat, customizable burgers, plus pours of locally brewed beers. Add to that some live music and free valet parking and you’ve got a Sunday bargain.
DIY burger toppings include bacon, prosciutto, chili, a range of grilled, roasted and pickled veggies, kimchi, pesto, truffle mayo, house-made “Eau-1 Sauce” and various cheeses. (After all, Sunday is National Cheeseburger Day.)
For the pairing, there will be beer tents dispensing plenty of samples from Due South, Funky Buddha, Twisted Trunk, Saltwater and Barrel of Monks.
Bonus: Each guest gets a swag bag of brew-branded items. Also, Eau beer growlers will be on sale for an additional $30.
Breeze Ocean Kitchen: at the Eau Palm Beach Resort, 100 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan; 561-533-6000; EauPalmBeach.com
Here’s an unexpected nod of “foodie” approval: Verified subscribers of the OpenTable.com reservation site have selected just one Palm Beach County establishment in a newly released, top-restaurant list.
The list of “100 Best Restaurants for Foodies in America for 2016” names Boca Raton’s La Nouvelle Maison, passing over better known “foodie” spots across the county.
The restaurant, which opened two years ago, was inspired by the locally beloved La Vieille Maison, which closed in 2006. And like La Vieille Maison, La Nouvelle Maison aims to be a temple of fine French cuisine.
“We work hard on the food, the service. Nothing goes by us. We put our hearts and soul here every day,” said a surprised Guido Barisone, La Nouvelle Maison’s general manager/partner when we told him about the honor.
The restaurant’s menu reflects the classic inspiration in the form of Burgundy-style escargots, foie gras on brioche, a trio of caviars, steak frites, rack of lamb in thyme-scented jus, dessert crepes and many other dishes.
Apart from La Nouvelle Maison, two other Florida restaurants made the list: Naples’ bha! bha! Persian Bistro and Maison Blanche in Longboat Key. They share the larger list with highly acclaimed restaurants such as New Orleans’ Shaya and Chicago’s Michelin-starred Boka.
OpenTable arrived at its “Best Restaurants for Foodies” list after “analyzing more than five million reviews of more than 20,000 restaurants across the country,” all submitted by verified member diners, according to the website.
“These standout restaurants are delicious destinations for the most passionate eaters — those for whom dining out is practically sport,” Caroline Potter, OpenTable Chief Dining Officer, said via news release. “Using ingredients both humble and exotic and drawing culinary inspiration from around the globe, this year’s honorees consistently offer thrilling experiences sure to please even the most discerning diners.”
The site introduced its newest list by defining the judges like this: “Foodies. Gourmands. Epicureans. These are the people seeking adventure on a plate.”
The honored restaurants, says OpenTable, serve “delicious dishes from rustic to refined, meant to be shared with both forks and phones.”
UPDATE: Due to looming Hurricane Matthew, Max’s Grille’s official birthday party has been postponed until Tuesday, Oct. 18, at 8 p.m.
ORIGINAL POST: Call it a millennial makeover. Just in time for its big 25th birthday, Boca Raton’s iconic Max’s Grille has closed for renovations.
The Dennis Max-owned restaurant, which closed after dinner Sunday, will debut its refreshed look on Thursday, Sept. 22, at 5 p.m.
Workers will replace the kitchen floor, replace ceiling soffits, reupholster banquettes in deep-red tufted leather, and add a white granite top to the outside bar and new wicker seating to the patio. Updates will continue later (while the restaurant is fully functioning) and, in a stroke of nostalgia, the bar overhang will be restored to its original state.
The updates, which come nearly six months after area flooding damaged the restaurant, have forced the delay of the second annual “Bar Brawls,” a local bartender competition.
However, the restaurant is on track to celebrate its 25th birthday on Oct. 6 Oct.18, when it hosts a bash for its designated VIPs and its former and current staff.
Said Max via new release: “We are excited to celebrate our 25th anniversary this year by revitalizing the restaurant, inside and out.”
Serving modernized American classics to packed houses daily, Max’s Grille is the only of the original Mizner Park restaurants that remains.
Max’s Grille: 404 Plaza Real (Mizner Park), Boca Raton; 561-368-0080; MaxsGrille.com
The “Coolinary” scene is expanding at Donald Ross Village in Palm Beach Gardens’ northern edge. Chef/owner Tim Lipman plans to open a craft beer and wine bar concept in the plaza that’s home to his popular Coolinary Café.
Later this year, The Parched Pig will slip into the space where the Vault 39 self-pour wine bar operated.
“We’ve been longing for an opportunity that felt right,” says Lipman, who co-owns Coolinary with his wife, Jenny Lipman.
That opportunity came up not in the form of a restaurant, but as a bar where they can showcase their appreciation for top local and regional craft beers, eclectic wines and sophisticated grub. Lipman says he hopes to open The Parched Pig in December.
Because the bar’s kitchen is not equipped for hot foods, the menu will focus on bar bites, appetizers and small plates, says Lipman.
Expect cold water oysters, fine charcuterie and cheeses, and even a high-end “toast section” featuring grilled breads with interesting toppings.
“Think bruschetta, but more Coolinary style,” says Lipman, who also plans to offer items prepared in a sous-vide cooker, such as pork belly rillettes (like paté).
In terms of wine and beer, Lipman says selections will venture beyond the mundane.
“You’re not going to see house wine. You’re not going to see Budweiser and Bud Light. There’s no hate against that, but there are some great traditional lagers out there we’d like to offer instead,” he says.
And unlike Vault 39, The Parched Pig will not use self-serve wine dispensers.
“We’re more service-driven,” says Lipman. “We like knowing our customers and conversing with the customers – not that they didn’t. We want to create an atmosphere for all types of demographics, a place to hang, to go, to drink good beer and drink good wine.”
Although The Parched Pig will sit a good distance from Coolinary Café in the plaza, it will not be too far away in terms of branding.
“We want to try to keep them synonymous,” says Lipman. “The color palette will be slightly different, but it will emulate the clean modern and touch-of-rustic flavor.”
He and his two sous chefs will be dashing between the spaces to keep both kitchens running smoothly, says Lipman.
Coolinary Café, a sweet sliver of a café, has been a north county hit since opening in early 2012. That’s largely due to Lipman’s direct, honest approach to food. He builds a refined comfort foods menu around the seasons and regionally harvested ingredients, pays homage to local purveyors, be they craft beer brewers or coffee roasters.
The intimate spot has cultivated a loyal clientele who travel from miles around and don’t seem to mind waiting in line for a table or barstool.
The upcoming bar will join a plaza so busy that sometimes parking is difficult to find. In addition to Coolinary Café, the plaza is home to Burger Bar, Grande’s Bella Cucina, Asian Fin, Mr. Zhang’s, Hurricane Grill and others restaurants.
Vault 39 opened to rave reviews in the spring of 2014 but closed somewhat suddenly earlier this summer. It was situated between a karate studio and a wing grill on Donald Ross Road across from the Abacoa Publix Plaza.
A 2,000-square-foot Dunkin’ Donuts with a drive-through window is under construction at a nearby outparcel. It’s also expected to open by the end of the year.
The Parched Pig will open at 4 p.m. at first, with Sundays devoted to oysters and rosé specials, says Lipman.
“That’s our favorite thing when we travel – oysters and rosé all day.”
The Parched Pig Craft Beer & Wine Bar: coming in December to Donald Ross Village, 4580 Donald Ross Rd. #100, Palm Beach Gardens.
Can a convoy of 50 competing food trucks come up with America’s best breakfast recipe? Thomas’, the English muffin people, are banking on it.
And that breakfast recipe just might have some Palm Beach County finesse to it. That’s because the convoy includes local favorite Curbside Gourmet.
The West Palm Beach-based truck chef/owner created a signature dish they call Surf and Turf Eggs Benedict. Chef Matthew Somsey topped their English muffin with braised pork belly, butter-poached New England lobster, a poached, local egg and a ladle of key lime hollandaise sauce.
Round 1 ends Sunday, when the competitor pool is cut in half. The 25 remaining trucks will compete through Sept. 25. After that, 10 trucks will battle through Oct. 2, when the field is cut to five. Seven days later, two finalists will remain.
Food truck fans are allowed to vote once a day and will be entered to compete for a $5000 prize.
Lynora’s, the Clematis Street restaurant that serves updated red-sauce Italian cuisine and hosts one of the liveliest brunches in town, is branching out soon in Jupiter.
A second Lynora’s location is expected to open the second week of October, according to the restaurant.
Inspired by a family-owned restaurant that operated in Lake Worth for more than 30 years, the new Lynora’s opened on downtown West Palm Beach’s main dining drag in 2014. This fall, co-owner Angelo Abbenante and his family will open the spinoff location at 1548 North US Highway 1 in Jupiter.
At a total of 2100 square feet, including indoor and outdoor spaces, the new restaurant won’t be as large as the Clematis Street trattoria. It will boast a wood-burning oven, an open kitchen and a bar.
On the menu: small plates, salads, pizzas and many of Lynora’s most popular main dishes.
Lynora’s will be open every day for lunch and dinner. It will also offer a weekend brunch.
City Tap House opened early last month across from City Cellar, turning CityPlace into a hub of unrelated “city” spots. But what makes the newly debuted gastro pub a good match for the downtown West Palm Beach complex is its eclectic menu options, both in food and drink.
The craft beer-centric restaurant is an East Coast concept that aims for a corner bar, good-grub feel. Part of the suburban Philly-based Table 95 Hospitality Group, it’s the first of the City Tap restaurants to open in Florida. The gastro pub breathed new life into the former Brewzzi space two years after that popular brew pub closed. The space is now appointed with barn wood and recycled steel and offers indoor and outdoor areas for dining, drinking and even sports-watching.
The beer list alone flows with local and regional craft brews arranged by styles, then listed by weight. Aside from pints and some higher-alcohol 10-ounce pours, beer is also sold by 5-ounce sampler glasses, affording the curious and thirsty a chance to try out different brews.
A 5-ounce sample of Tampa’s Cigar City Horchata ($3) allowed me to savor the vanilla-cinnamon notes of the Mexican-inspired spiced ale between appetizer bites without having to invest a full-size beer.
Those appetizers were not too easy to pick, as the menu offers a solid range of starters, from Korean short rib tacos ($13) to charred Brussels sprouts ($8) to tuna carpaccio with yuzu-ginger dressing ($17) to Israeli hummus ($8).
We settled on a plate of corn and crab hushpuppies ($13) served with a citrus remoulade and honey-thyme butter. These proved to be knockout bites, crispy, flavorful and studded with crab and corn. They were so fluffy and delicious they needed no sauce, much less any kind of butter.
A Florida grouper ceviche appetizer ($14) offered bright, tropical flavors, nicely acidic hits from citrus and pineapple, richness from coconut milk and avocado and grassy notes from cilantro. With tortilla chips for scooping, the bite was complete.
City Tap House’s pimento cheese spread ($8), however, was a miss. Topped with a layer of nondescript bacon jam, the soft spread proved bland, even when spread on a caraway cracker. It took a tart pickle slice to give the bite a lift.
Our entrée choices did not disappoint. A dish of crispy suckling pig ($24), the night’s Daily Supper” special, offered a neat wedge of pulled, confit pork topped with a spot-on layer of crispy crackling. This pork wedge crowned a sweet potato and poblano hash and a ring of spicy apple sauce. The contrast of flavors and textures elevated the dish.
The City Tap Burger ($15) was a juicy bite. The Black Angus beef patty is topped with cheddar, pickled red onions and a pinkish “secret” sauce that leaked through the bottom bun – not ideal for those who like to pick up their burgers. No worries on my part – I used a fork and knife to scrape the bun aside and cut to the chase, the juicy patty which was cooked to true medium temperature. The side fries, of the “hand-cut” variety, were crispy enough.
We found interesting, yet vaguely Asian, flavors in the Duck Rice Hot Pot ($23), a composition of crispy confit duck (slow-cooked in its own fat), sauteed with Napa cabbage, garlic and peas that’s cooked with star anise and cinnamon-scented long grain rice and aromatics. The mixture is then deglazed with mirin, rice wine vinegar, Sriracha sauce, white soy sauce and sesame oil. The presentation includes plenty of chopped herbs, green beans and an oozy poached egg. A vegetarian version of the dish, which is comforting and delicious, is offered as well. The white soy lends the dish a round hint of butterscotch for an overall addictive flavor.
These dishes share the dinner menu with a variety of mussels, pizza, and heftier meat-centric options.
Those who venture to the heftier side of the menu, be warned: There’s one dessert that’s worth saving some room for. The ricotta fritters ($8) are simply sublime. The house-made ricotta becomes more flavorful as it air-dries for 48 hours. The soft cheese is mixed with flour, baking soda, orange zest, sugar and eggs, then deep-fried. Hot and crispy outside, fluffy and decadent inside, they’re dusted with powdered sugar and served with a citrus-scented crème anglaise dipping sauce. Three words: Run, don’t walk.
These fritters completely outshone our two other dessert selections: a scoop of tangy-rich key lime gelato, and a chocolate pot de crème. Served in a coffee cup and saucer, the chocolate dessert sounded so much better when described by our server. It’s like a chocolate mousse topped with whipped vanilla crème fraiche, then crowned with a bruleed (torched) banana wedge that’s sprinkled with crumbled macadamia nuts. Yeah, go for the ricotta fritters.
NOISE LEVEL: Noisy at the bar, but the dining room is large enough to hold varying levels of noise. Conversation is possible.
FULL BAR: Yes, a full liquor bar; separate bar area. Happy Hour runs Monday through Friday from 3 to 7 p.m.
HOURS: Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Brunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and offers a DIY Mimosa and Bloody Mary Bar for $18 with purchase of an entrée.
West Palm Beach’s most iconic steakhouse has unveiled a Bourbon Room for private dining and special functions.
The Okeechobee Steakhouse will break in its new bourbon-themed space at a special six-course, bourbon-pairing dinner next month that includes rare pours of Pappy Van Winkle.
The room, constructed on one side of the restaurant, can seat 28 people by day or night. It will accommodate parties of 10 to 28, says owner Ralph Lewis, whose family has owned and operated the steakhouse for nearly 69 years.
“Bourbon sales went back up again and we have a large, large variety of bourbon. We’ve always had a relatively good variety, but now we’ve doubled it,” he says, noting an increased demand on vintage drinks, such as the Old Fashioned.
Okeechobee’s expanded bourbon list includes intriguing and in-demand selections such as Angel’s Envy, Buffalo Trace, Hirsch Reserve, Jefferson’s Ocean Aged at Sea and Willett Pot Still Reserve.
As for the bourbon pairing dinner, here are the details:
Menu: Six courses paired with various bourbons and bourbon cocktails. Dishes include poached pear salad, carrot ginger soup, smoked salmon crostini, prosciutto-wrapped lobster tail, all matched with drinks. The feast continues with a prime ribeye spinalis-wrapped tenderloin paired with an Eagle Rare Manhattan, and bacon-wrapped Bananas Foster matched with Prichard’s Double Chocolate and root beer float. As grand finale, attendees will toast with Pappy Van Winkle.