CityPlace will welcome its fourth new restaurant this year when Bowery Palm Beach makes its debut in the former BB King’s/ Lafayette’s space next week.
Bowery, which combines an upmarket seafood restaurant and live music club, opens Thursday, Dec. 8.
The menu describes dishes with some refinement: snapper panzanella (bread salad) with fried capers and tomato confit, black cod served with olive oil poached potatoes and watercress pesto, octopus with Meyer lemon gel and smoked potatoes.
Starters include steamed bao (buns) stuffed with a variety of fillings, including fried gator tail with pickled jalapeño. The dessert menu includes a black sesame ice cream sundae with kiwi, mocha, passion fruit and caramel. Specialty cocktails include the “Bowery Red,” vodka mixed with Giffard grapefruit syrup, Aperol and fresh lime juice.
Cirigliano and Kefales have brought on Chef Anthony “Theo” Theocaropoulos to design the menu and head the kitchen.
A native New Yorker, Theocaropoulos is a graduate of the now-defunct Lincoln Culinary Institute. His career includes stints at Chef Michael White’s Ai Fiori and Mario Batali’s Eataly New York La Pizza & La Pasta.
Bowery Palm Beach will be the fifth restaurant opening at West Palm’s centerpiece dining and entertainment plaza in the past year, following the opening of The Regional Kitchen, City Tap House, Brother Jimmy’s BBQ and Cabo Flats (which opened in December 2015).
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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?
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.
The Regional is slated to open to the public for dinner service on Saturday Sept. 10. Several friends-and-family meals are planned for earlier in the week, followed by an invitation-only “housewarming” party on Friday, Sept. 9.
The heavy lifting – the renovation, the décor, the principal staffing, even the arrival of 4000 premium wines in four shipments – is finished. Restaurateur Thierry Beaud (Pistache, PB Catch) and managing partner Autry have breathed warmth and light into the 10,000-square-foot space once occupied by Pampas Grille, which closed in October 2014. (Other previous inhabitants include McCormick & Schmick’s and Columbia Restaurant.)
Beaud’s TITOU restaurant group created cozy, manageable dining and drinking areas and a separate, funky bar/ lounge that can close itself off to the larger restaurant and party on its own. Even the hostess stand is unique — it doubles as a concierge desk, where diners can learn about local shows, shopping and other events.
The full reveal is a concept that’s driven by copious amounts of Southern soul.
To that point: The place will offer tableside pimento cheese with a variety of mix-ins. (And, yes, it involves Duke’s mayonnaise and homemade hot sauce.)
The menu alone is more than an eclectic listing of tempting dishes. It’s the abbreviated autobiography of a young, rising chef coming into her own.
“I’ve had a lot of time to write a million menus and scratch them all up. But what I feel really good about is that this menu is kind of an expression of all of my experiences as a chef,” says Autry, a Bravo “Top Chef” alum well known to South Florida dining enthusiasts. “I feel the menu is a true expression of me, not only as a chef but of me as a person.”
Up to now, we’ve seen glimmers of this chef as she’s led other kitchens (Sundy House, Michelle Bernstein at The Omphoy) and headlined local culinary pop-ups and festivals. But this menu promises something greater: the work of a cook who syncs her chef-fy skills with her Southern heart.
The menu pays tribute to North Carolina-born Autry’s Southern roots, Mediterranean influences (from her Greek grandmother), and cooking experiences in South Florida and Mexico.
Such a mashup inspires menu items like Country Ham Carpaccio with cornbread sticks, apple slaw, clothbound cheddar and pepper jelly, and Roasted Bone Marrow with pickled shallots and crispy onions, and sweet-tea brined Fried Chicken Thighs with bread and butter pickles, and Grilled Snapper in Banana Leaf with green tomato salsa verde, and Red Wattle Pork Shank with creamed hominy and braised greens.
As the menu suggests, The Regional incorporates fine dining elements without being stuffy or overly precious. Autry says this is her preferred balance in cooking.
“Most of my experience has been fine dining, and I still like fancy and pretty things, and I like being a chef and taking my time to cure things and cook for days, but I want food to be approachable,” says Autry. “And what I love is taking nostalgic things, like pimento cheese for instance, and taking my experience as a chef and making that even better.”
Welcome to one of South Florida’s hot new dining destinations: downtown West Palm Beach and its environs. With a large crop of newly opened restaurants and more on deck, the district is rising to regional relevance.
Calaveras Cantina at Jupiter’s Harbourside Place serves crispy-fried empanadas. (Photo by Liz Balmaseda)
The flaky duck empanadas at this Harbourside Place eatery are addictively good. They’re fried crispy with a juicy center of duck confit and mushrooms. A batch of four, served with a side of avocado ranch dipping sauce, make a great, shareable starter.
An empanada at Mojito restaurant in CityPlace. (Photo by Liz Balmaseda)
This lively spot atop CityPlace makes empanadas with your choice of three fillings: roasted chicken, picadillo or ham and cheese.
Mojito Latin Cuisine: 700 S. Rosemary Ave. (CityPlace, second floor), West Palm Beach; 561-832-6688;MojitoCP.com
El Sabor Latino
Empanada con carne at El Sabor Latino, Palm Beach Gardens. (Palm Beach Post)
This small, pan-Latino eatery, with locations in Palm Beach Gardens and Greenacres, serves 2-buck, homemade empanadas filled with either chicken or beef. The crust on these babies: corn masa.
El Sabor Latino: In Palm Beach Gardens at 4391 Northlake Blvd. (inside Joseph’s/ HomeGoods plaza); in Greenacres at 2202 Jog Rd.; ElSaborLatinoRestaurant.com
Buccan’s famous braised short rib empanadas are topped with aji amarillo cream and fresh salsa criolla. (J. Gwendolynne Berry/ The Palm Beach Post)
Chef Clay Conley makes the best empanada in town. You’ll need a reservation, valet tip cash and proper attire to savor it, but, oh, is it ever so worth it to dig into Buccan Palm Beach’s short rib empanada. Conley dresses it up with a touch of salsa criolla and Peruvian-style ají amarillo (yellow pepper sauce).
For those who love cheese, today is your day! It’s National Cheese Lover’s Day! What better way to celebrate than with a yummy, gooey grilled cheese sandwich! Here is our list of the best sandwiches in Palm Beach County:
Big news for the local dining scene: Star chef Lindsay Autry will take her culinary talents to CityPlace.
The Bravo TV “Top Chef” finalist has partnered with restaurateur Thierry Beaud (Pistache, PB Catch, Paneterie) to bring a refreshed “American kitchen table” concept to the massive space most recently occupied by Pampas Grille.
The upcoming eatery, The Regional Kitchen & Public House, is expected to open in early 2016.
“We want to focus on real, conscious and approachable food, showcasing the beautiful product that we have locally and regionally – which is how we came up with the name, really,” says Autry.