Critic’s pick: best waterfront restaurant this week in Delray

A waterfront view from Deck 84 in Delray Beach. (Contributed by Jerry Rabinowitz)
Boaters often bring their fresh catch to Deck 84, Delray Beach. (Contributed by Jerry Rabinowitz)

South county pick: DECK 84

Restaurateur Burt Rapoport has created more than a simple waterfront eatery at Deck 84 – he has created a kind of waterway hub, where boaters can dock and drink or bring their fresh catches to be cooked.

Boat or no boat, you’ll find a taste of the ocean at this 5-year-old restaurant in the bar bites (the popcorn shrimp are delicious!), soups, large plates, sandwiches and tacos.

Related: Best waterfront restaurants in Palm Beach County

A waterfront view from Deck 84 in Delray Beach. (Contributed by Jerry Rabinowitz)
A waterfront view from Deck 84, Delray Beach. (Contributed by Jerry Rabinowitz)

The seafood dishes share the menu with American pub classics in a setting that embraces the water view – the place is among the top 100 al fresco dining restaurants in America, according to OpenTable.com.

Open every day, Deck 84 serves lunch and dinner daily; a weekend brunch is served as well.

Deck 84: 840 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561-665-8484; Deck84.com

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

Dining review: Follow the buzz to Brule Bistro, Delray Beach

Brule Bistro's chef de cuisine is Jason Binder. (Bill Ingram/ The Palm Beach Post)
Brule Bistro’s chef de cuisine is Jason Binder. (Bill Ingram/ The Palm Beach Post)

Welcome to the liveliest bistro in Pineapple Grove, a spot where happy hours can easily segue into supper. Clearly it’s a place loved by locals, as they belly up to the stylish bar on weeknights, secure sidewalk tables for alfresco bites and help keep the buzz alive at Brule Bistro.

The buzz factor proved a tad noisy on my first visit to the Delray Beach eatery, which serves a good mix of inspired small plates and heartier American bistro-style fare. As the early evening hum intensified (dramatically so), my tablemates and I had to shout at one another. We loved the food, but couldn’t talk about it until we left the restaurant.

For that reason, I had stayed away from the place. But one can stay away from good grub only for so long.

Brule's braised beef short rib with creamy mascarpone polenta and sauteed spinach in a red wine reduction. (Bill Ingram/ The Palm Beach Post)
Brule’s braised beef short rib with creamy mascarpone polenta and sauteed spinach in a red wine reduction. (Bill Ingram/ The Palm Beach Post)

I returned recently for a weeknight dinner, on a slower, more quiet night. On such a night, the urban charms of the bistro reveal themselves, detail by detail – the warm welcomes, the attentiveness at the bar, the smiling locals, the interesting mingling of flavors.

Those flavors rise from fresh, seasonal ingredients, as the menu shifts and transitions. That means what you may have enjoyed on one visit may be gone the next time you visit. But what remains is Chef Jason Binder’s artful touch on the plate.

Where some pub chefs might include the obligatory flatbread on the menu, Binder offers a crispy pork cheek “pizza” ($13), a crispy, tostada-sized round crowned with slow-braised pork cheek, Asiago cheese, arugula, pickled red onions and oven-dried tomato, served upon a board with droplets of fried rosemary aioli.

Chef Binder's crispy Duroc pork belly is served with rustic sweet potato, a fried organic quail egg in a lemongrass-game reduction with pistachio crumbs. (Bill Ingram/ The Palm Beach Post)
Chef Binder’s crispy Duroc pork belly is served with rustic sweet potato, a fried organic quail egg in a lemongrass-game reduction with pistachio crumbs. (Bill Ingram/ The Palm Beach Post)

His take on the classic Caprese salad, the Fried Cheese Caprese ($14), involves slices of lightly fried mozzarella layered with marinated local tomato slices, organic greens and pesto aioli, all neatly stacked beneath a drizzle of aged balsamic.

His Day Boat Fish Tacos ($12) – recently replaced on the menu by Crispy Shrimp Tacos – are tucked in pickled cabbage slaw, cilantro and Serrano chile aioli for a bite full of flavor and textural contrasts.

On the night of my most recent visit, we enjoyed a nightly special of large, plump Crispy Coconut Shrimp ($14) served atop a ginger-pepper rice pilaf with a touch of soy glaze and chipotle aioli, plus micro cilantro for grassy punctuation.

The heftier dishes are equally delicious here. In fact, Chef Binder’s seared diver scallops ($29) dish, served with roasted local corn and young peas in an arugula fumet (reduction) cream with pasta, is a thing of beauty. But this convivial spot almost begs for the shared plates or small-plates route.

You may find, as we did, that there’s a nicely shareable cheese board on the nightly special menu. Our board ($16) boasted Belton Farm Cheddar, Dolce Gorgonzola, Drunken Goat cheese, Brule Brie and fig jam.

Before the rush: Brule Bistro's bar. (Bill Ingram/ The Palm Beach Post)
Before the happy hour rush: Brule Bistro’s bar. (Bill Ingram/ The Palm Beach Post)

Such a combo invites a glass of wine or beer, both of which Brule Bistro offers well curated selections. The wine list travels from Oregon’s Willamette Valley (Van Duzer pinot noir) to Argentina’s Mendoza region (Tapiz Malbec) to Burgundy, France (Bachelet-Monnot Chassagne-Montrachet). Beers range from the Old World Belgian and Trappist to local craft brews.

There are some menu mainstays worth noting, such as the ginger chicken meatballs ($10), served in a bit of coconut broth with bok choy and chili oil. The seared ahi tuna poke ($15), with pops of cilantro, Serrano chiles, avocado, basil oil and toasted macadamia nuts, is also one of those favorites.

Also worth noting: Brule now offers a “peasant brunch” at lunchtime each day. Highlights include a fried egg and short rib hash with cumin potatoes and roasted tomato salsa ($12), fried eggs and curried lentils with toasted curry oil ($10) and a B.L.T.E. sandwich (apple wood-smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and farm egg) on multigrain with a smear of tarragon aioli ($10).

If you savor your brunch into the mid-afternoon, you may find yourself tempted to stay for happy hour, which starts at 3 p.m. (great bites, all for under 9 bucks). You can blame this charming little bistro for extra calories incurred.

R E V I E W

Brule Bistro

FOOD: B+

SERVICE: A-

ADDRESS: 200 NE Second Ave., Delray Beach

TELEPHONE: 561-274-2046

WEBSITE: BruleBistro.com

PRICE RANGE: Moderate

FULL BAR: Yes, with separate bar area.

NOISE LEVEL: Lively, often noisy inside when the bistro is packed.

HOURS: Open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to close (often till 2 a.m.), Sunday from 5 p.m. to close.

CREDIT CARDS: Major cards accepted

RESERVATIONS: Walk-ins welcome; no reservations taken

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

WHAT THE GRADES MEAN:

A — Excellent

B — Good

C — Average

D — Poor

F — Don’t bother

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

 

Critic’s pick: Hudson Delray hosts ‘Nauti Hallow’s Eve’

Halloween inevitably inspires spooky cocktails. (Cox Newspapers)
Halloween inevitably inspires spooky cocktails. (Cox Newspapers)

South county pick: HUDSON DELRAY

Halloween night at this seafood-centric spot in Delray Beach comes with a water view. In addition to its full menu, served in the dining room, Hudson is throwing a “Nauti Hallow’s Eve” bash Saturday night. The party starts at 6 p.m. on the newly revamped outdoor bar.

Related: The best Halloween events in Palm Beach county

For the occasion, the eatery is serving a special “Fangtastic Flatbread” ($8), made with roasted butternut squash, ricotta, sage and sunflower seeds. For the pairing, there will be appropriately spooky sips, like Pumpkin Smashed Martinis ($8), Jack O’Lantern Shots ($3) and Witches Brew ($5).

A view of Hudson at East Waterway in Delray Beach from the Intracoastal. (Contributed)
A view of Hudson at East Waterway in Delray Beach from the Intracoastal. (Contributed)

Diners and revelers are invited to dress up and take part in Hudson’s “mischievous” costume contest.

Hudson, at Waterway East: 900 E. Atlantic Ave., #22, Delray Beach; 561-303-1343; HudsonDelray.com

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

 

Critic’s pick: Delray Beach bistro is neighborhood gem

Jimmy Mills, chef/owner of Jimmy's Bistro. (Allen Eyestone/ The Palm Beach Post)
Jimmy Mills, chef/owner of Jimmy’s Bistro. (Allen Eyestone/ The Palm Beach Post)

South county pick: JIMMY’S BISTRO

The daily fish special that’s featured on Chef James Mills’ menu at this neighborhood gem of a bistro is fresh caught and expertly prepared. Ditto for just about everything that steams out of his kitchen.

In addition to his stellar fish dishes, Mills turns out one comfort dish after another, from schnitzel to ravioli to étouffé to chicken fried chicken.

Pan-seared flounder with olive and basil ratatouille is served at Jimmy's Bistro. (Allen Eyestone/ The Palm Beach Post)
Pan-seared flounder with olive and basil ratatouille is served at Jimmy’s Bistro. (Allen Eyestone/ The Palm Beach Post)

For the pairing, he offers a well-curated selection of excellent wines.

The place is worth the detour from the Atlantic Avenue bustle. Slip into this bistro, and expect good grub and good service.

Jimmy’s Bistro: 9 S. Swinton Ave., Delray Beach; 561-865-5774; Facebook.com/JimmysBistro

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

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