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.
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.
Local vegans, rejoice. The immensely popular Christopher’s Kitchen will open its long-awaited sister restaurant in downtown West Palm Beach on Tuesday.
Meraki Juice Kitchen, as the new spot is named, will serve cold-pressed juices and tonics as well as breakfast bowls, soups, salads, gluten-free baked goods, nondairy soft-serve, coffees, beer and wine.
If Christopher’s Kitchen is any indicator of Meraki’s fare, one can expect fresh-made almond “mylks” and a range of savory and sweet dishes enhanced by rich, delicious house-made nut creams and cheeses. One can also expect generous, varied salads and unparalleled gluten-free items.
Co-owners are plant-based foods chef Christopher Slawson and his uncle Richard Slawson, who transformed Palm Beach Gardens’ Midtown plaza when they opened Christopher’s Kitchen five and a half years ago. The stylish cafe has generated a loyal following among vegans and non-vegans alike.
Christopher Slawson’s creative ways with dish flavors, dressings, sauces and textures has set the place apart from crunchy vegan places of yore.
His philosophy is referenced in the very name of Meraki Juice Kitchen, for the name means “to do something with soul, creativity or love, to put something of yourself into your work,” as the Slawsons’ explained in a press release Wednesday.
The restaurant, which will offer outdoor seating, will serve as a template for future locations. The owners have chosen a Meraki location in Boca Raton and are working to secure another in Delray Beach.
Also new is the Slawsons’ 5000-square-foot production kitchen, where they prepare juices and other items.
Meraki Juice Kitchen
Location: 328 Fern St., West Palm Beach
Hours: Opening on Tuesday, Aug. 16; will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Palm Beach County’s newest craft beer brand, the five-month-old Copperpoint Brewing in Boynton Beach, will be available on draft outside the brewery for the first time this month. A dozen local bars and restaurants, to begin with, will carry beer by the brewer who won one of Florida’s first gold medals from the highly regarded Great American Beer Festival.
The Dispensary, a daylight eatery and soda fountain, has opened on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach. The retro-hip spot is located inside the Center City Pharmacy, where The Vegan Café briefly operated.
On the menu: hefty breakfast dishes, including four types of Eggs Benedict, shrimp and grits, huevos rancheros, chicken fried steak, smoked salmon on bagel, waffles and biscuits with gravy. Lunch offerings include chickpea soup, potato soup, tons of fresh salads, burgers and sandwiches (BLT, prime rib, cheddar-Gruyere grilled cheese), various sides and daily specials. Soda fountain favorites, like shakes and sundaes, are served as well.
“People are loving the food,” says co-owner Christian Wiebel, a local restaurant veteran who most recently worked at the now-closed Garage VV in Northwood.
He opened the new diner with partner Gregory Galgano on Sept. 1 as an intimate, 45-seat eatery.
“We want to add more tables, but we want to start small, with a chance to grow. For now, we want to keep it small,” says Wiebel.
Hours: Open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with the full menu offered till 5 p.m. (From 5 to 7 p.m., soda fountain items, croissants and packaged salads are offered.) Open Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.; closed Sunday. Hours are expected to expand in season.
That marks a quick turnaround for the Federal Highway donut shop, which closed Aug. 2 for renovations.
Franchisee Dan Bowers felt the 53-year-old eatery — which was the last full-service Dunkin’ restaurant in the world — was overdue for a makeover.
The grill, the short-order cooks and the veteran waitresses are gone, replaced with the full complement of equipment for making 2015’s specialty sandwiches and small army of hot, cold and slushy beverages (once upon a time, kids, beverages at donut shops were pretty much limited to hot coffee, cold OJ and tiny cartons of milk).
Starting Monday and continuing through Friday, the first 20 customers each morning will receive a free ceramic mug — the kind that was a staple at the original restaurant.
The restaurant also will offer this deal next week: a small hot coffee and donut for 99 cents.
Dunkin’ Donuts is at 301 Federal Highway in Lake Park and can be reached at 561-848-5031.