Less is more in fashion, beauty and… cake?

Less is more when keeping up with the latest social, fashion and food trends these days.

Take ripped jeans, for example. Instead of a subtle rip across one knee on a good pair, everyone from fashionable men to busy, I-just-need-something-to-throw-on moms are exposing an entire knee — and even a little thigh.

Then there are celebrities and beauty influencers posting selfies that embrace their natural skin with hashtags like #nomakeup and #naturalbeauty.

And while women are enjoying the skin they’re in, they also embracing the hair they’re under.

Over the past few years, a vast amount of women have publicly committed to big chops and no-heat hairstyles, encouraging other women to do the same. In most cases, these women have found that their natural hair texture — before chemicals, dye and styling products — is much more satisfying to their taste, looks better and feels better, #NaturalHair.

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Just a little curly motivation for my girls that are transitioning to healthy hair. I've done it all! Different colours, flat ironed without heat protectant for years etc. I've gone from healthy curls back to damaged several times as well. The best tips I can give you are 1) Start with a cut/trim – to me, it does more than start your healthy hair process, it's a psychological move that tells you that you're actually willing to go all in! ( kinda like cutting credit cards to get out of debt! ) even the smallest trim will make a difference! 2) Find inspiration! Look for images of other women with curly hair that is similar to your hair texture, this will keep you motivated ( be realistic! ) 3) Deep condition like it's going out of style! This will help those damaged curls immensely! 4) Enjoy the process! If you do a big chop, enjoy that stage! Trust me, when you look back you will regret not rocking that look as much as you could have..try to own it! If you're uncomfortable with a teeny fro, play with bold accessories to distract a bit until you just don't care! 5) A bun gets boring after a while so keep yourself entertained with different #protectivestyles and try the #wiglife if you get tempted to touch the flat iron or bleach during the transitioning process! Good luck! Tag a friend that needs some inspiration ( I have a natural curly hair playlist on my YouTube channel with my healthy hair journey etc if you want more details and tips 😉 YouTube : MissCharmsie ~ direct channel link in bio ) #naturalhair #curlyhair #damagedcurls #transitioninghair

A post shared by ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀Charmaine 👩🏽‍🦰 (@charmsie) on

So, yes, it was only a matter of time before the “less is more” craze would venture into fine dining, and fine desserting.

We’re in a season of natural beauty exposed, where people are not only appreciating a more unfinished look but paying for it as well. Now, you’ve got the naked and semi-naked cakes. A two, three, four or more tier cake with buttercream filling, some fresh fruit or flower garnishment — and that’s it.

But make no mistake: Just because minimal vibes are trending doesn’t mean people are paying less. Not for jeans, not for hair or skin products, and surely not for the naked cake.

photo: naked cake
Vanilla naked cake with fresh strawberry filling, strawberries and flowers for a Bed and Breakfast in Loxahatchee made by Diva-Licious Cake House in Palm Beach County. Photo provided by The Diva-Licious Cake House.

Pricing may start at about $7.50 per serving but it all depends on what you’re looking for. Will you be including fresh flowers or sugar flowers? What flavor do you want? Will the cake have three layers or five?

“Naked wedding cakes, to the average eye, seem to be something that requires less work, but that’s not it,” Janderyn Makris of Earth and Sugar tells us.

Her naked cakes start at the same price point as any other cake from her bakery because the amount of time spent on it is the same.

You’re probably wondering, “how can that be true if a naked cake has very little or no icing on its exterior?” Well, there are careful skills and techniques to consider, like layering the cakes with particular amounts of buttercream filling so that the final product is not lopsided.

For frosting lovers, this is a good thing. They shouldn’t turn away from a slice of naked cake because there may be even more filling in a naked cake than a normal one.

“The naked wedding cake must be clean,” Marian Meyers of  Diva-Licious Cake House emphasized. But clean doesn’t necessary mean flawless.

photo: naked cake
A naked cake from The Sugar Monkey before it was ‘dressed.’ Photo provided by The Sugar Monkey.

 

It seems the idea of being ‘natural’, or ‘naked’ for the cake’s sake, is more about exposing and embracing flaws rather than covering them up. Are freckles on a nose just as beautiful as a contoured face? Are naked cakes as beautiful as desserts fully decorated in fondant and props? I’d say so.

Which Halloween candies are the most unhealthy?

Time for candy corn, cavities and upset stomachs. It’s Halloween season, and there will be plenty of candy for kids and parents to munch. But, which ones should you avoid? Most of them aren’t great for you, but a specific few are especially bad.

Related: Best Halloween festivals, parties in town

photo Halloween party
Children pick out Halloween candy. (Palm Beach Post file photo)

In a list on The Daily Meal, the website listed staple candy favorites such as 3 Musketeers, Sour Patch Kids, Milky Way, Butterfingers and Snickers among the unhealthiest candy given out at Halloween. Lucky for Florida, Crunch wasn’t in the ranking, which was just discovered to be the state’s favorite brand.

According to The Daily Meal, 3 Musketeers was listed as the unhealthiest candy because one bar contains 240 calories, 36 grams of sugar, and 5 grams of saturated fat. Even though it advertises itself as the “lighter way,” the site says the candy bar “contains trans-fat hiding in the form of hydrogenated palm kernel oil.”

photo halloween candy
Various Halloween candy. (Contributed)

Other unhealthy facts include: 36 grams of sugar and 140 calories in one 2-ounce box of Sour Patch Kids, 275 calories and 29 grams of sugar in one Butterfingers bar, 24 grams of sugar and 250 calories in one fun size pack of Twix and 50 calories and 12 grams of sugar in one mini box of Nerds.

Calories aside….Vote now for your favorite!

PB Post Dinner Series celebrates flavors of Montreal in Palm Beach

We traveled to Montreal without leaving the island of Palm Beach. Sure, there were palm fronds nearby somewhere as we dined on Québécois flavors, but our imagination was transported during The Post’s Dinner Series feast at Chez l’Epicier Tuesday night.

Montreal munchies: A server offers minced salmon bites.
Montreal munchies: A server offers minced salmon bites. (Liz Balmaseda/The Palm Beach Post)

Chef Laurent Godbout created a lavish, three-course dinner that kicked off with a series of passed bites and sips of a decidedly Canadian welcome cocktail: sparkling apple cider laced with blueberry-maple syrup. Starters continued with a composition of the chef’s favorite appetizer bites: a modernized poutine croquette (filled with a puff of cheese curd and gravy), a rich avocado tartare, a refreshing gazpacho and a boldly flavored baked oyster crowned in maple-Dijon and cheddar.

Related: Full dining review of Chez l’Epicier

For main course, he prepared a traditional Montreal winter dish of fork-tender beef cheek, corn relish and potato foam presented as a Shepherd’s Pie.

A welcome cocktail to kick off our Evening in Montreal. (Liz Balmaseda/The Palm Beach Post)
A welcome cocktail to kick off our Evening in Montreal. (Liz Balmaseda/The Palm Beach Post)

The meal’s sweet finale proved downright decadent, a classic apple and maple chomeur (or “poor man’s pudding”) served oven-warm with house-made vanilla ice cream. The chef chose this most authentic note to end the meal, as maple syrup is part of the Québécois DNA. The flavors bring him back to Montreal’s “sugar shacks,” where maple sap is boiled, transformed into treats and celebrated.

(In fact, he has plans to bring the sugar-shack theme to the restaurant’s brunch menu closer to spring.)

Veronique Deneault, co-owner of Chez l'Epicier, zips through the restaurant as guests begin to arrive. (Julio Poletti/ Thye Palm Beach Post)
Veronique Deneault zips through the restaurant as guests arrive. (Julio Poletti/The Palm Beach Post)

The restaurant’s chic farmhouse look added a layer of chill to the night, as co-owner Veronique Deneault (who is married to Chef Laurent) warmly greeted guests, who departed well-fed and toting goody bags of freshly made vanilla marshmallows.

It was a sweet night, indeed. Our journey yielded no frequent-flier miles, but it did earn us some worth-it Canadian calories.

Goody bags: homemade marshmallows for 'Evening in Montreal' guests. (Julio Poletti/ The Palm Beach Post)
Goody bags: homemade marshmallows for ‘Montreal’ guests. (Julio Poletti/The Palm Beach Post)

Stay tuned for our next installment of The Palm Beach Post’s Dinner Series, coming in early 2017. Follow us on Facebook for updates on foodie events and dining news.  

Chez l’Epicier: 288 S. County Rd., Palm Beach; 561-508-7030; ChezlEpicier.com

Palm Beach Outlets host ‘Chef’s Tailgate Party’ for charity

A batch of local restaurants will pop up Thursday night at the Palm Beach Outlets, when the open-air mall hosts the “Boca Raton Bowl Chef’s Tailgate Party.”

The bash, which benefits the Spirit of Giving Network charity, will feature bites from restaurants including Vic & Angelo’s, Burger Bar, Don Ramon, Longhorn Steakhouse, PGA National Resort, Bolay, Tijuana Flats and Park Avenue BBQ.

Tailgate for a cause at the Palm Beach Outlets. Frito pies may or may not be served. (Cox Newspapers)
Tailgate for a cause at the Palm Beach Outlets. Frito pies may or may not be served. (Cox Newspapers)

The football-themed party, which goes from 5:30 to 8 p.m., costs $30 in advance and at the door. (Members of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches pay $25 for advance tickets.)

Party-goers are encouraged to sport their preferred college jersey or colors.

Palm Beach Outlets: 1751 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., West Palm Beach; event tickets here.

PB Food & Wine Festival: ticket sales strong, Coolio out, new stars join

Coolio, rapper and unexpected foodie, will not appear at December’s Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival after all, thanks to his recent arrest in Los Angeles on gun charges, organizers say. The 90s star also known as Artis Leon Ivey Jr. was charged with felony firearm possession after a gun was found in his backpack during a security check at Los Angeles International Airport last month.

But here’s an actual culinary star foodies can get excited about: Chef Lee Wolen of Chicago’s Michelin-starred Boka Restaurant recently joined the festival lineup. The James Beard Award nominee will be cooking at the “Rise and Dine” breakfast Saturday, Dec. 10.

Star chefs Marc Murphy (left) and Jeff Mauro, beneath the Palm Beach sun. (LILA PHOTO)
Star chefs Marc Murphy (left) and Jeff Mauro, beneath the Palm Beach sun. (LILA PHOTO)

Also new to the festival, which runs from Dec. 8-11, is food TV personality Adam Richman, of “Man V. Food” fame, who is scheduled to appear at two prime Saturday events.

Like Coolio, Richman is not without his own controversies. He has now regained status in the food TV world two years after a blistering Instagram rant derailed his Travel Channel “Man Finds Food” series. (The show premiered the following year with a new name.)

Before the Insta-rant: Adam Richman on set in 2008. (Cox Newspapers photo)
Before the Insta-rant: Adam Richman on set in 2008. (Cox Newspapers photo)

Wolen and Richman join a food star lineup that includes nationally acclaimed chefs like Jonathon Sawyer, Daniel Boulud, George Mendes, Ken Oringer, Mike Lata and Anita Lo, TV celebrity chefs like Jeff Mauro and Robert Irvine, and star Miami chefs like Michelle Bernstein, Jose Mendin, Brad Kilgore, Giorgio Rapicavoli and Timon Balloo.

“The festival is continuing to add new and fresh faces and exciting talent,” says festival organizer David Sabin. “We’re now finalizing the participation of other award-winning and notable chefs.”

Add to those Palm Beach stars like Clay Conley, Lindsay Autry, Tim Lipman, Zach Bell, Rick Mace and Julien Gremaud and you have the largest congregation of chefs in Florida in December.

Refined bites at the festival's "Sustain" event in 2015. (LILA PHOTO)
Refined bites at the festival’s “Sustain” event in 2015. (LILA PHOTO)

With two months still to go till its kickoff event, the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival has sold out nearly half of its events.

The four-day festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in December, also has sold out of its four offered ticket packages.

Of its 15 scheduled events, top-sellers include the festival’s “Street Food” competition, the “Kids Kitchen” cooking classes (both at the Four Seasons Resort), and the “Chef Welcome Party” at The Breakers. The fest wraps up with a “Grand Tasting” bash and chefs’ throw-down at The Gardens Mall on the night of Dec. 11, a Sunday.

Ticket sales are exceeding expectation, says Sabin.

“It’s a testimonial to the thriving dining culture in Palm Beach County,” he says. “Year to year, festival-goers are growing more familiar with the venues and our staple events. It’s obvious in the response we’ve received to our signature events.”

Snack + snap: A Four Seasons Resort cook prepares party food at the fest. (LILA PHOTO)
Snack + snap: A Four Seasons Resort cook prepares party food at the fest. (LILA PHOTO)

Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival

The festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary, runs from Dec. 8 through 11. For information and tickets, visit PBFoodWineFest.com.

The Regional Kitchen heats up CityPlace — is it worth the buzz?

The folks behind The Regional Kitchen & Public House in downtown West Palm Beach don’t believe in doomed locations. Some months ago, they invaded the cavernous space that once housed a succession of failed restaurants – from Cuban to American seafood to Brazilian spots – and raised a banner there for worldly Southern cooking.

Chef Lindsay Autry addresses the troops at The Regional Kitchen. (Contributed by The Regional)
Chef Lindsay Autry addresses the troops at The Regional Kitchen. (Contributed by The Regional)

Now, on most nights, The Regional hums with big-city ambiance as the restaurant’s various dining areas are filled with chatter and tables are laden with Executive Chef Lindsay Autry’s jazzed up pimento cheese, country ham carpaccio, fried chicken thighs and pozole verde.

Never mind that the restaurant’s façade is obscured by massive scaffolding as the larger building undergoes renovations. Even the Public House part of the establishment, also known as the bar and lounge, seems to draw its own lively scene.

Why all the buzz – and is it warranted?

Long story, short: Yes.

The Regional's Tomato Pie is a top-seller. (South Moon Photography)
The Regional’s Tomato Pie is a top-seller at the month-old restaurant. (South Moon Photography)

The reasons extend beyond concept, planning and good intention. Of course there’s a solid hospitality entity behind The Regional – restaurateur Thierry Beaud’s TITOU group, which gave us Pistache on Clematis Street and PB Catch in Palm Beach, restaurants with enduring shine.

And there’s timing: The Regional debuts as West Palm Beach rises to prominence as a new hub for indie, chef-driven restaurants. It also opens as the CityPlace area awaits the arrival of a mega Restoration Hardware showroom, which will serve as a formal entrance to downtown West Palm Beach.

But at the core, the month-old Regional runs on soul, excellent food and attention to detail, a trifecta brought to life by Chef Autry, who also serves as the restaurant’s managing partner.

She pulls these elements together with a sense of authority, culled from her eclectic fine dining experiences. Autry is not only a chef on the rise, but a chef coming into her own – and it’s an exciting thing to witness.

Pimento cheese is jazzed up, table-side. (South Moon Photography)
Pimento cheese is jazzed up, table-side. (South Moon Photography)

Her menu is part memoir: Autry borrows flavors from her North Carolina childhood (hello, country-style sausage with field pea cassoulet), her Greek grandmother’s kitchen (as in veggie Greek salad with charred chickpeas), her days working for celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein in Yucatan and Miami (hola, grilled snapper in banana leaf with salsa verde), and her culinary pop-up explorations.

The menu sparkles with flavor combos that might make no sense in the hands of another chef – and she commands it with grace. Her Berkshire pork shank ($26), perched on creamed hominy and pozole verde, is downright statuesque. Her sweet tea-brined fried chicken thighs ($9) cut to the chase of flavor, focusing on the richest part of the bird. Even a dish as seemingly simple as chicken noodle soup ($8) is exalted by a long-simmered broth (deepened in flavor by heaps of bones), chicken that’s cooked gently in its own fat and hand-cut dumplings. It’s exquisite, this soup.

As does the menu, the décor touches reflect certain soul. Autry and her team doted on table setting details, including a caddy handcrafted by a Regional bartender with woodworking skills. It holds the menus and small bottles of The Regional’s special “house sauce.”

The Regional's walls reflect the chef's North Carolina childhood. (LILA PHOTO)
The Regional’s walls reflect the chef’s North Carolina childhood. (LILA PHOTO)

The amber glassware on the table is inspired by Autry’s grandmother’s table. It was “always set with those color glasses and pretty ‘share’ plates that make you feel like you’re dining on something special,” recalls the chef.

The art on the restaurant’s walls reflects Autry’s North Carolina roots in a series of photos she took at her family’s farm, as well as some local farm images. She had a replica of her family’s farm sign made – it hangs above The Regional’s kitchen.

“These personal notes make it really feel like home to me,” says Autry.

Chef on the rise: Lindsay Autry at The Regional's "housewarming" party. (Contributed by The Regional)
Chef on the rise: Lindsay Autry at the “housewarming” party. (Contributed by The Regional)

Interesting thing: The place feels homey even to those of us not born in North Carolina. Then again, “homey” doesn’t fully cover The Regional’s vibe. The place may pay homage to Autry’s countryside roots, but it is firmly metropolitan. Retro funk beats segue to soul on the soundtrack in the bar and main dining room, while soulful jazz flows through The Regional’s private dining room. Autry’s team spent about four months developing the custom playlists with a New York sound company.

The crisp details extend to the servers, their approach and their appearance in uniforms designed by ChefWorks and, for the women, a certain matte shade of coral lipstick.

Country flavors, big-city vibe at The Regional Kitchen. (LILA PHOTO)
Country flavors, big-city vibe at The Regional Kitchen. (LILA PHOTO)

Of course, Autry knows such details can be meaningless without drive.

“It takes a lot of time and energy to open a restaurant, and it’s remarkable to see all of the small details come together to make this establishment what I hoped it could be,” she says.

She says she looks forward to seeing “our little community grow.”

It’s an heirloom seed of a wish, but one that’s sown on fertile, West Palm Beach soil. How could it not grow?

The Regional Kitchen & Public House: 651 Okeechobee Blvd. (CityPlace), West Palm Beach; 561-557-6460

Tiger Woods’ top-rated restaurant keeps name and delicious menu!

Relax! Even though Tiger Woods just announced the rebranding of his Harbourside Place restaurant, The Woods Jupiter will keep the same name and delicious menu!

A game-changer for Harbourside Place, The Woods, opened in August of 2015. The eatery boasts fine food and faultless service: Read our full dining review – The Woods at Harbourside Place.

photo tiger woods restaurant
The Woods’ lobster and jumbo crab cake: fresh lobster and jumbo lump crab cake, served with a warm mustard sauce and roasted corn relish. (Contributed by The Woods Jupiter)

Another stand-out about the restaurant is the service. The Woods Jupiter was voted our Critic’s Choice pick for ‘Best Service’ in 2015!

Happy National Pasta Day! 3 great spots for pasta in Palm Beach County

Today is National Pasta Day! Wondering how to celebrate? Hit up these spots for some of the yummiest pasta around:

Grato, West Palm Beach

The pasta that stands out: Bucatini Carbonara.

photo pasta
Chef Clay Conley’s restaurant, Grato, includes such rustic Italian dishes as bucatini carbonara. (Credit: Steven Barrocas/SoFlaFoodie)

When chef Clay Conley (of Buccan Palm Beach fame) and his partners opened a casual neighborhood trattoria near the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, he zeroed in on two specialties: pizza and pasta.

Related: 10 favorite local dishes that are worth seeking out

For the thin-crust pizza, there’s a glowing, wood-burning oven. For the pasta, there’s a nifty brass-die pasta extruder. This is the contraption that gives the pasta’s surface a kind of matte texture that helps sauce adhere. So this hearty tangle of thick bucatini is no average pasta. The carbonara coating is smoky with ham and bacon and made unctuous once you break the egg yolk that crowns the dish. Bright pops of green peas and chopped basil complete the dish.
Grato: 1901 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-404-1334.

 

Marcello’s La Sirena, West Palm Beach

La Sirena is more than your neighborhood Italian restaurant. It’s a global destination. That’s thanks to the West Palm Beach restaurant’s extensive wine selection. For the second consecutive year, La Sirena just earned a rare Grand Award from Wine Spectator magazine. The restaurant now has an updated dining room and, according to chef/owner Marcello Fiorentino, expanded food and wine options.

photo la sirena
La Sirena restaurant owner chef Marcello Fiorentino at his acclaimed restaurant in West Palm Beach. (Photo by Bill Ingram /The Palm Beach Post)

 

Fiorentino, who spent three weeks in Italy last month as part of his annual search for culinary inspiration, has planned a new series of La Sirena’s popular wine dinners.

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

 

Lynora’s, West Palm Beach

Lynora’s manages to achieve a cozy, old-soul feel within a considerably spacious locale in downtown West Palm Beach. The Clematis Street spot welcomes you warmly and feeds you splendidly.

photo lynoras
Old school Italian flavors: Lynora s Eggplant Parm. (Contributed by LibbyVision.com)

You’ll find no rambling menu or fussy dishes here. But you will find freshly prepared classics that include delicious house-made pasta dishes and wood-fired pizza.

Related: Full dining review of Lynora’s Osteria (food, service top rating!)

If this approachable eatery feels like an old soul, that’s because it is. Owner Angelo Abbenante and his family find their inspiration in the now-closed Lynora’s of Lake Worth Road, the red-sauce restaurant once owned by Abbenante’s Italian immigrant parents, Ralph and Maria. (Lynora’s is named after Maria’s mother.)

Lynora’s: 207 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-899-3117.

 

Video: Ralph’s Place closes in Palm Beach Gardens

This is not where one expects to find a killer egg salad sandwich or belly-warming fish and grits. It’s a diner where you least expect to find one: in an industrial/professional block on a restaurant-free road.

But here it is, Ralph’s Place, humming more than eight years strong on this quiet corner of Palm Beach Gardens – until it closes for good on Sunday.

Ralph's Place prepares to close. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Ralph’s Place in Palm Beach Gardens prepares to close. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

And Ralph Percy, the diner’s 85-year-old owner, greeter and part-time cook, will be here till the last customer has left, the last dish is washed and the last light is turned off.

The new owners of the plaza that houses Ralph’s Place did not renew its lease, says Percy. So he will close the diner he’s operated for 26 years in three different locations.

Ralph Percy opened Ralph's Place 26 years ago. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Ralph Percy opened Ralph’s Place 26 years ago. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

“It’s the local gathering place for all the neighborhood and business people. We have regular customers every day. I know them by sight more than by name,” says Percy, who operated Ralph’s Place in one Northwood location, then another, from 1990. He reopened in Palm Beach Gardens in 2008, after his last Northwood lease was not renewed.

On Friday, as Ralph’s Place buzzes with lunchtime customers, Percy is deep into his head count for the day. “We do 200 customers a day. So far today, we’re at 103,” he says.

One of those 103 is Mabel Brinkley, a tap dance aficionado enjoying a plate of fried fish for lunch. She’s a regular here. She comes every Tuesday for lunch with her senior dance group. There’s much to love about Ralph’s Place, she says.

“I like his personality. The service is excellent. I’m going to miss it,” she says.

Her server, Bonnie Sue Fickett, is going to miss the place as well.

“It’s the best job I’ve ever had,” says Fickett, a Maine native who has been a restaurant server for 40 years. She’s worked at Ralph’s for just eight months, but has already collected various customer appreciation letters as well as some job leads. “(Ralph) is just such a nice person. I love it here. I’m gonna cry.”

For most of the past 8 ½ years, Percy has been here at 5:30 a.m. seven days a week, opening the diner at 7 a.m. each morning and closing at 2:30 p.m. He’s done all the food shopping for the diner, and prepared “90 percent” of the lunches, too. On the plus side, it doesn’t take him too long to walk home from work – he lives one block away.

Simple diner omelet with home fries. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)
Simple diner omelet with home fries. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

What will he do once Ralph’s Place is gone?

“I’m up there in years and retirement is inevitable,” says Percy.

Retirement is also a fuzzy term. Percy retired nearly 40 years ago from a national shoe company. He had moved to Florida from Syracuse, NY, in 1965 and “retired” 11 years later. He opened a couple of shoe stores and operated them for nearly a decade.

ralphsmenu
A bygone menu of daily specials at Ralph’s. (Liz Balmaseda/ The Palm Beach Post)

It was after his brother took over the old Albritton’s Drug Store in 1990 (and closed it a few months later) that Percy opened a diner in that 40th Street location. He ran Ralph’s Place there until he moved it to 24th Street, and finally to its final Burns Road home.

“I started out as a novice,” says Percy. “I was new and had no idea. My sister had a restaurant in upstate New York and I would pop in and out and so on.”

But he gravitated toward the kitchen at his first Ralph’s Place, where he had hired an “excellent” local cook. Percy says he would hover over the stove as she cooked, exasperating her.

“She said to me, ‘Excuse me. You can’t stand there and watch me – you’ll drive me crazy,’” he recalls. But he continued to hover until he took over the stove one day. “I’m pretty agile. I play a lot of tennis. I thought, ‘I can flip eggs.’ So I said to her one day, ‘Move over.’”

Many over-easy eggs later, Percy ponders whether the closing means he’ll hang up his spatula for good. Probably not, he says.

“I’ll get bored. I’ll look for something,” he says, referring to another location. “It would have to be around here. I wouldn’t go somewhere else where I’m not known.”

So this may not be a final good-bye to his customers, he says.

“The customers ask me, ‘How are we going to find you?’ I tell them, ‘You’ll have to take a break for a few months at least.’”

Ralph’s Place: Closes Sunday at 3902 Burns Rd., #20, Palm Beach Gardens; 561-625-6687

ralphssign

Avocado Grill celebrates 2nd birthday in grand, funky style party

It’s hard to imagine a weekend when there was not a celebration of some kind at Avocado Grill, Chef Julien Gremaud’s popular spot in downtown West Palm Beach. Perhaps that’s because the very air in the lively restaurant, which spills onto the sidewalk and side patio, seems to sway.

But as Avocado Grill turns 2 this weekend, the restaurant is cranking its celebratory mode to full blast.

A local pair enjoy a window seat at Avocado Grill in downtown West Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
A local pair enjoy a window seat at Avocado Grill in West Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

First, there’s a reggae brunch Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., to the live music of Spred the Dub. On the menu: island-y offerings like coconut lobster rolls, jerk shrimp tacos and dirty rice. Five hours later, the vibe turns clubby as DJ Adam Lipson kicks off his set (9 p.m).

Sunday starts with a brunch as well – a ‘70s-style disco brunch. Adding to the mood: music by Mr. Trombone (Wayne Perry), drummer Ryan Anthony and DJ German Garcia. Brunch also features a costume contest. The contestant with the best retro ‘70 attire wins a $200 Avocado Grill gift card.

Julien Gremaud is chef/owner at Avocado Grill. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Julien Gremaud is chef/owner at Avocado Grill. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)

Chef Gremaud is hoping guests “go all out” on their costume concepts.

“It’s almost Halloween and we want to see what everyone’s got,” he said via news release.

Of course, there are two weeks of potential celebrations to go before Halloween shadows our doors.

And Gremaud admits he “can’t resist a good party.”

Can you tell the chef used to be a DJ?

Avocado Grill's Dulce de Leche Lava Cake. (Richard Graulich/ The Palm Beach Post)
Avocado Grill’s Dulce de Leche Lava Cake. (Richard Graulich/ The Palm Beach Post)

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