Openings: Trump’s former chef debuts Abacoa restaurant

For days now, friends and locals have been shuffling into Aaron’s Table & Wine Bar for a sneak-peek taste of the new Abacoa restaurant by Mar-A-Lago’s food and beverage director.

Aaron Fuller’s restaurant officially opens to the public at 4 p.m. Saturday. That’s four days before the presidential election that pits Fuller’s Mar-A-Lago boss, Donald Trump, against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

On the menu at Aaron's: pan-seared branzino with lemongrass-infused butter. (LibbyVision.com)
Aaron’s branzino is pan-seared and served with lemongrass-infused butter. (LibbyVision.com)

But Fuller says he prefers not to talk about whatever happens or doesn’t happen on Tuesday.

“I stay out of those conversations,” says Fuller, who served as executive chef at Trump’s Palm Beach estate and club before his present role as food-beverage chief there. “My big goal here is to do the best I can at my new restaurant.”

That’s not to say he’s secretive about his political loyalties. On his Facebook page, Fuller roots for his boss and posts items consistent with Trump’s more fervent supporters.

Still, he must stay mum on far lighter topics – like the boss’ food preferences.

“I signed a confidentiality agreement here,” he said this week on a call from Mar-A-Lago, where he has worked for seven years.

Aaron's port poached pear salad. (LibbyVision.com)
Aaron’s Table’s port poached pear salad. (LibbyVision.com)

What Fuller is eager to talk about, however, is Abacoa, the newly energized district near his home in Jupiter. This is where he chose to open Aaron’s Table and where he’s hoping to add his flair to the eclectic district.

“We live literally two blocks away, my wife and kids and I,” says Fuller, who hopes to attract a mix that includes families, date-night couples, casual groups and ladies’ night revelers.

He’s hoping the “farmhouse chic kind of feel” of Aaron’s Table will make diners feel welcome and comfortable, despite the menu’s swanky terms.  To drive home this wish, he notes that his braised lamb shanks are simmered in Civil Society IPA – that is, beer brewed directly across the street in Abacoa.

Duck confit flatbread with arugula, fontina, almonds and dried cranberries. (LibbyVision.com)
Duck confit flatbread with arugula, fontina, almonds and dried cranberries. (LibbyVision.com)

Upholding the “wine bar” part of the restaurant’s name, Fuller lists 22 wines by the glass on the menu. And Thursday nights from 6 to 7 p.m., he hosts wine tastings with passed hors d’oeuvres.

“We’re doing some fun things, without being too snobbish,” he says. Fuller says he’s pleased at the early response to the restaurant. “The feedback has been fantastic.”

Man in charge: Aaron Fuller at Aaron's Table in Abacoa. (LibbyVision.com)
Man in charge: Aaron Fuller at Aaron’s Table in Abacoa. (LibbyVision.com)

Although he has a chef de cuisine at Aaron’s (his Mar-A-Lago protégé Marc Cela), Fuller crafted the menu himself and took inspiration from his own wanderings. So, there’s a little Palm Beach, a little global in it.

“The menu itself, the only reasoning behind it is my experiences at different places in the world. I could call the lumpia ‘spring rolls,’ but my wife is from the Philippines and we know them as lumpia. The items like the langoustine – that’s from the Palm Beach side of me,” says Fuller of his sautéed langoustines in a sweet corn sauce.

Sautéed langoustines in a sweet corn sauce. (LibbyVision.com)
Sautéed langoustines in a sweet corn sauce. (LibbyVision.com)

Of course, inquiring minds want to know: Would his Mar-A-Lago boss order those fancy langoustines? Or would Trump request a well-done burger instead, as other past staffers have reported?

Fuller says only this: “He expects perfection. We do our best to do that for him and for everybody we serve. He’s known for quality and that’s what we try to give him.”

We asked one final question, one not covered by that confidentiality agreement:

What would Fuller serve Hillary Clinton?

“I don’t know,” he says, taking a measured Mar-A-Lago moment. “That one – you’re making me laugh with that one.”

Baked Alaska a la Aaron's Table in Abacoa. (LibbyVision.com)
Swanky stuff: Baked Alaska at Aaron’s Table, Abacoa. (LibbyVision.com)

Aaron’s Table & Wine Bar: 1153 Town Center Drive, Jupiter; 561-855-2628; AaronsTable.com; hours are Tuesday through Sundays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., with happy hour offered from 4 to 7 p.m. On Wednesdays and Fridays starting Nov. 11, there will be live music.

Swanky new restaurant coming to downtown Abacoa

Downtown Abacoa, home of frosty beer and comfort grub, is about to welcome a swanky new restaurant with a menu that includes epicurean terms like “verjus” and “nage” and “confit.”

Aaron’s Table & Wine Bar will debut Sat., Nov. 6, in the former Rooney’s Public House location.

Aaron's sauteed langoustines in a sweet corn sauce. (Photo by LibbyVision.com)
Aaron’s sauteed langoustines in a sweet corn sauce. (Photo by LibbyVision.com)

It is the namesake of Aaron Fuller, a former resort and private club chef who was most recently executive chef at Mar-A-Lago Club in Palm Beach. An Abacoa resident, Fuller aims to bring globally inspired dishes prepared with a refined touch and often a dramatic flair.

But despite the Baked Alaska dessert that’s flambéed at tableside, Aaron’s setting will be more “farmhouse chic” than opulent.

Baked Alaska will be flambeed tableside at Aaron's. (Photo by LibbyVision.com)
Baked Alaska will be flambeed tableside at Aaron’s in Abacoa. (Photo by LibbyVision.com)

“I think this community is starving for a new experience that focuses on fresh, interesting and high-quality dishes without having to travel too far from home,” Fuller said via news release. He called the restaurant “an extension of my own kitchen and family.”

Fuller has named his Mar-a-Lago protégé, Marc Cela, as Aaron’s Chef de Cuisine. Cela hails from a restaurant-industry family – his father owned and operated the now-closed L’Anjou in Lake Worth.

On the menu at Aaron’s: bar bites ($5 and up) like avocado fries, Philippine chicken lumpia and truffle Parmesan gaufrette (wafer), starters such as port-poached pear salad, truffle-ricotta ravioli, pork belly with Thai peanut brittle and sautéed langoustines in a sweet corn nage (broth), main plates (up to $36) like roasted duck in a dark cherry gastrique (sweet-sour sauce), lamb shank braised in local IPA (by the Civil Society brewers across the street) and pan-seared bronzino with coconut rice.

Aaron Fuller, downtown Abacoa. (Photo by LibbyVision.com)
Aaron Fuller, downtown Abacoa. (Photo by LibbyVision.com)

Several dishes, both savory and sweet, are presented in jars as a nod to Fuller’s memories of his mother’s homemade jellies and jams.

One interesting daily special is one rarely offered to the public at other establishments: the “family meal,” or whatever the chef and his crew are eating that day.

As for the “wine bar” part of the restaurant, Aaron’s will pour a selection of interesting wines by the glass and bottle. The bar has nitrogen-contained wine dispensers to help keep those by-the-glass wines fresh. On Thursday nights, the wine bar will offer wine tastings.

 

Aaron’s Table & Wine Bar: 1153 Town Center Drive, Jupiter; 561-855-2628; AaronsTable.com; hours are Tuesday through Sundays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., with happy hour offered from 4 to 7 p.m. On Wednesdays and Fridays starting Nov. 11, there will be live music. Dinner reservations will be taken starting Oct. 15.

 

Spring training eats: where to dine and drink in Abacoa

Not this: downtown Abacoa offers options beyond stadium food. (Palm Beach Post file photo)
Not this: downtown Abacoa offers options beyond stadium food. (Palm Beach Post file photo)

This is not sparkling, waterfront Jupiter, or party-hearty Jupiter, or the Jupiter of tourists and shoppers. It’s spring training Jupiter.

More specifically, it’s downtown Abacoa, where the Florida Marlins and the St. Louis Cardinals come to play in March.

And each year that’s reason enough for baseball fans to descend upon Abacoa’s pleasant, walkable Main Street area, just steps from Roger Dean Stadium, where the training games happen.

But there’s more than just baseball to this brick-lined district. We found at least five food and drink experiences – including a couple of new ones – that are proudly Abacoan.

Check out our list at MyPalmBeachPost.com