Mediterranean at midday: Apeiro Kitchen opens for lunch

Apeiro is located at the Delray Marketplace. (Bruce R. Bennett/ The Palm Beach Post)
Apeiro is located at the Delray Marketplace. (Bruce R. Bennett/ The Palm Beach Post)

Fans of Apeiro Kitchen & Bar can now indulge in some of their Mediterranean favorites at lunch time. The suburban Delray Beach eatery, co-owned by restaurateur Burt Rapoport, rolled out a new, nicely priced weekday lunch service on Thursday.

The lunch menu’s “10 for $10” focus features 10 of chef/co-owner David Blonsky’s most popular dishes, served in lunch portions. Among these favorites: curry chicken salad, crispy eggplant, veggie omelet, chicken pita with fries and salmon salad.

Also on the menu: small plates, salads, flatbreads and desserts.

Margherita flatbread at Apeiro in Delray Marketplace Tuesday, May 26, 2015. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)
Margherita flatbread is served at Apeiro, Delray Beach. (Bruce R. Bennett/ The Palm Beach Post)

Hours: Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday during those hours.

Apeiro plans a second location next month in Midtown Miami.

Apeiro Kitchen & Bar: 14917 Lyons Rd., Delray Beach; 561-501-4443; ApeiroRestaurants.com

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

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New on Clematis Street: The Dispensary diner and soda fountain

The Dispensary, West Palm Beach. (Contributed)
The Dispensary, West Palm Beach. (Contributed)

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.

Clematis Street's newest diner has outdoor seating. (Contributed)
Clematis Street’s newest diner has outdoor seating. (Contributed)

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.

Online ordering is available.

The Dispensary: 416 Clematis St. (inside Center City Pharmacy), West Palm Beach; 561-990-2555; TheDispensaryWPB.com

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

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Restaurant pick of the week: Daylight eatery dazzles Dixie Highway

Aioli chef/ co-owner Mike Hackman. (Contributed by Kali De Vries)
Aioli chef/ co-owner Mike Hackman. (Contributed by Kali De Vries)

Central county: AIOLI

It’s easy to understand why this small daylight eatery does a brisk take-out business: The food is fresh and delicious.

Chef/co-owner Michael Hackman’s daily special are posted online every morning, and they tell the story of an inspired local cook devoted to local ingredients. Hackman, who operates Aioli with his wife, Melanie, gives a luxurious touch to a strip-plaza, Dixie Highway lunch. Sample the light-yet-creamy custard of his daily quiche and you’ll know this is true.

A lush blueberry-molasses muffin is baked on premises and served at Aioli, a cafe and juice bar in West Palm Beach. (Contributed by Christine DiRocco)
A lush blueberry-molasses muffin is baked on premises and served at Aioli, a cafe and juice bar in West Palm Beach. (Contributed by Christine DiRocco)

In addition to breakfast and lunch offerings (hot and cold sandwiches, soups, salads, fresh juices), the chef also prepares a “dinner to go” option daily for those who crave Aioli at night. Recent dinner options include whole roasted free range chicken, roasted tomatoes stuffed with Moroccan couscous, beef lasagna, roasted veggie lasagna and house-made veal cheek ravioli.

Aioli: 7434 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-366-7741; AioliWPB.com

Twitter: @LizBalmaseda

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Restaurant pick of the week: something to purr about in Palm Beach

The club sandwich at The Leopard Lounge features avocado and egg. (Palm Beach Daily News file)
A club sandwich at The Leopard Lounge, Palm Beach. (Palm Beach Daily News file)

Central pick: LEOPARD LOUNGE

Oh, sure, this place is great at night for Palm Beach people-watching amid black lacquered walls, shiny leather banquettes and leopard print carpeting. But there’s more to the Leopard than the lounge and dinner scene. There’s excellent service, the “welcome” of hot rolls tucked into a basket, and delicious lunch.

The chicken schnitzel ($22) is a thing of beauty: Chicken breast that’s tender and juicy chicken beneath a crispy, buttery crust is topped with lemon béchamel sauce and served with haricot vert and French fries. Order the schnitzel as part of the Flavor Palm Beach lunch menu during the month of September and you can get an appetizer (like shrimp cocktail) and dessert (like double chocolate Belgian cake), all for just $20, plus tax and tip. That’s something to purr about.

The Chesterfield Hotel revamped its rooms and famous Leopard Lounge in 2011. (Chris Salata/ Palm Beach Daily News) 120711 PBDN Chris Salata 4 Photos
The Chesterfield Hotel revamped its rooms and Leopard Lounge in 2011. (Palm Beach Daily News)

Leopard Lounge: 363 Cocoanut Row (in the Chesterfield Hotel), Palm Beach; 561-659-5800; ChesterfieldPB.com

Twitter: @LizBalmaseda

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Hurricane Matthew: stock up on these six fancy foods

Hurricane Matthew update: for all their drama, hurricanes can be drab affairs when it comes to their culinary consequences.

The dismal checklist usually involves the usual suspects: granola bars, canned chicken or tuna salad, Spam, Vienna sausages, generic crackers and peanut butter.

For the latest updates on Hurricane Matthew check our WeatherPlus blog.

In a storm and aftermath, chances are your pantry supplies will dictate what ends up on your plate – particularly if the aftermath involves a power outage.

So in the spirit of thoughtful preparation as Hurricane Matthew approaches — here are some pantry items that promise to lift your post-storm meals and mood, especially when consumed by candlelight.

FANCY TUNA

FancyPantryTuna2

My new favorite tuna is packed in a 6.7-ounce jar with olive oil. Tonnino’s Tuna Fillets in Olive Oil packs Costa Rican tuna that’s dolphin-safe, wild caught and hand packed.

These are pricey little jars, retailing at just over $5 each. But each serves two to three – even more, if used in a larger salad.

Find them, among other places, at Publix, Publix GreenWise and The Boys’ market in Delray Beach.

CANNED CANNELLINIS

FancyPantryBeans

These versatile beans are delicious, even at room temperature. They’re lovely when tossed with olive oil and lemon or vinegar, and a sprinkling of herbs. Fold in some good tuna and thinly sliced onion for a full meal.

Such a salad invites a ton of variations: Add tomatoes, avocado, fresh herbs, even other bean varieties.

Find them at your favorite supermarket.

GOOD OLIVE OIL AND VINEGAR

071614 Flavor 22

A drizzle of distinctive olive oil can add instant depth and a luxurious touch to a toss of greens, tuna and/or beans. Add a sprinkling of organic red wine vinegar or aged balsamic for balance and brightness.

I love a good, hearty Spanish olive oil, but in a pinch, a little bottle of Pompeian extra virgin oil fixes the craving for bold.

YUMMY PEANUT BUTTER

FancyPantryPeanutButter

Peanut Butter & Co. makes some terrific varieties of peanut butter, from Cinnamon Raisin Swirl (our favorite) to White Chocolate Wonderful. No need for jelly – these are good on their own.

Find them at Publix, Walmart, Winn-Dixie, Target and other local shops.

CRISPY CRACKERS

FancyPantryCrackers

My new favorite go-to cracker seems custom-made for everything from hummus to pimento cheese. Plus, Blue Diamond’s Pecan Nut-Thins are wheat and gluten-free. They’re made with rice flour and pecans and manage to maintain the lightest, most satisfying crunch.

Find them at Publix and most major markets.

CRUNCHY CHICKPEAS

FancyPantryChickpeas

Saffron Road makes delicious, crunchy chickpeas that are flavored by a variety of spices. (I love the falafel-flavored ones.) These are yummy alone, by the handful, or scattered atop salads and soups. Plus, they’re healthier than potato chips.

Find them at Publix.

Twitter: @LizBalmaseda

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Goodbye grub: Blondies diner closes in Tequesta

The blondes: Courtney and Meghan Conran, shown here in September 2014. (Bruce R. Bennett/ The Palm Beach Post)
The blondes: Courtney and Meghan Conran, in Sept. 2014. (Bruce R. Bennett/ The Palm Beach Post)

Blondies, the Tequesta diner that fixed many a breakfast-for-dinner craving, has closed.

Sisters Meghan and Courtney Conran, the blondes that inspired the diner’s name, opened the strip-plaza eatery in September 2011. They served a menu of dishes inspired by family recipes, such as the “Beezy Cakes” flapjacks named for their cousin Bridget and their Grandpa Bill’s Monte Cristo.

The sisters posted a note on the diner’s website, saying they were unable to agree to new lease terms on the space.

“We want to thank everyone for supporting us throughout the years and giving us the best customers we could ever ask for,” said their note. “We are actively seeking a new location, so be on the lookout for a new Blondies in the future.”

Related: Goodbye, grub – Closed restaurants in Palm Beach County

Twitter: @LizBalmaseda

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Rich, creamy and dreamy: ‘The Cuban Table’s’ flan de leche

"The trick to a great Flan de Leche begins and ends with the caramelo," the caramel syrup, writes author Ana Sofia Pelaez in her debut cookbook, "The Cuban Table." (Photo by Ellen Silverman reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Press)
“The trick to a great Flan de Leche begins and ends with the caramelo,” the caramel syrup, writes author Ana Sofia Pelaez in her debut 2014 cookbook, “The Cuban Table.” (Photo by Ellen Silverman reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press)

This dessert is silky and velvety at once. It’s a caramelo dream, proof that not all “love” desserts have to be made of chocolate.

FLAN DE LECHE
Milk Flan

This recipe is reprinted from the 2014 cookbook “The Cuban Table” (St. Martin’s Press, $35), by writer Ana Sofia Pelaez and photographer Ellen Silverman.

“The trick to a great Flan de Leche begins and ends with the caramelo – the sugar heated slowly over a steady flame until it reaches just the right amber hue without becoming bitter.” – Ana Sofia Pelaez, author and creator of the Hungry Sofia blog.

Serves 8 to 10

3/4 cup sugar
For the custard
2 1/2 cups whole milk
One 12-ounce can evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 lemon peel, white pith removed
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
6 large eggs

Special equipment:

7- to 8-inch flanera or round metal cake pan (preferably 3 inches deep)

CubanTableBookJacket

Make the flan:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pour 3/4 cup of sugar into a flanera or metal mold. Place the mold over medium heat and move constantly, without stirring, until the sugar melts and takes on a deep amber hue, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove the mold from the heat and swirl the caramel so that the bottom and sides are lightly covered. The caramel will be very hot and should be handled carefully. Set aside.

Combine the whole milk, evaporated milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla bean, lemon peel and salt in a heavy 4-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the spices to steep until the milk is cooled to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Discard the cinnamon, vanilla bean, and lemon peel.

Combine the cooled milk mixture and eggs in a mixing bowl and whisk until well combined. Carefully pour the custard into the prepared mold. Close the lid of the flanera, if using, or cover the mold with aluminum foil.

Prepare a baño de María: Place the filled mold in a larger roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan so that it comes about halfway up the sides of the mold.

Carefully place both pans in the oven and bake for 60 to 75 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow the custard to cool completely then refrigerate, covered, at least 4 hours or overnight.

To unmold, run a thin knife along the side of the mold. Gently shake the mold to loosen the flan.

Place a large plate over the flan and quickly invert the mold in one motion.

The flan will gently drop onto the plate and the caramel will flow out.

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National Oyster Day: Deals at Boca, Delray restaurants

The oyster bar at Racks Delray. (Thomas Cordy/ Palm Beach Post)
The oyster bar at Racks Delray. (Thomas Cordy/ Palm Beach Post)

National Oyster Day doesn’t arrive until Wednesday, but some south county eateries are kicking off their celebration today.

Restaurateur Gary Rack’s restaurants – Racks Downtown Eatery + Tavern in Boca Raton and Racks Fish House + Oyster Bar in Delray Beach – are running buck-a-shuck deals through Thursday.

The deal: Blue Point oysters are $1 each from open to close. The oysters are sold by the half-dozen.

Racks Downtown Eatery + Tavern: 402 Plaza Real, Mizner Park, Boca Raton; 561-395-1662

Racks Fish House + Oyster Bar: 5 SE Second Ave., Delray Beach; 561-450-6718

MOLLUSK MADNESS: FIVE PLACES FOR OYSTERS (AND CLAMS) 

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Best restaurants of 2015 (so far): Palm Beach County, Treasure Coast

Jereve Culinary Studio, West Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)
Jereve Culinary Studio, West Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)

I am not quite done devouring 2015, but I have feasted on my share of excellent dishes. Here’s my half-time report on my favorite reviewed restaurants so far this year.

JEREVE CULINARY STUDIO

Jereve's palm hearts with kohlrabi, mango, and bread crumbs. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)
Jereve’s palm hearts with kohlrabi, mango, and bread crumbs. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)

They call this West Palm Beach eatery a studio for good reason: The food is a work of art. But beyond the stunning presentations on the plate, the food is delicious.

The restaurant is tucked into the multiuse EmKo art space on South Dixie Highway in the Flamingo Park neighborhood, and its positioning makes sense: beautiful, thoughtful dishes served in a setting where creativity is celebrated and encouraged.

Jereve: 2119 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-227-3511; EmKoPB.com

MEAT MARKET

Meat Market's mammoth dry-aged Prime Certified Angus, 32-ounce porterhouse steak. (Bill Ingram/ Palm Beach Post)
Meat Market’s mammoth dry-aged Prime Certified Angus, 32-ounce porterhouse steak. (Bill Ingram/ Palm Beach Post)

Welcome to the sexiest steak house in Palm Beach County, where the cuts are stellar and the service is sensational.

Chef-restaurateur Sean Brasel’s hard work has paid off, as have the countless miles he’s logged between the 10-month-old restaurant and its original Meat Market location in Miami Beach. Start with a fresh tuna tartare and a glass of chilled wine at the bar, where happy hour is a refined affair. Then settle into a seat at the dining room for an extraordinary meal. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth the splurge.

Meat Market: 191 Bradley Place, Palm Beach; 561-354-9800; MeatMarketPalmBeach.com

THE GRILLE FASHION CUISINE

Executive Chef Clay Carnes, The Grille, Wellington. (Bruce R. Bennett/ The Palm Beach Post)
Executive Chef Clay Carnes, The Grille, Wellington. (Bruce R. Bennett/ The Palm Beach Post)

Rising star chef Clayton Carnes has no use for bells and whistles. He relies on premium ingredients and mad skills. The secret behind The Grille’s quality and success is as simple as that.

There’s little wonder why Carnes won an episode of Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen,” and, more recently, a semifinals round in the summer-long Feast of the Sea’s Chef’s Challenge Series.

At The Grille, his menu is simple and accessible, and it’s inspired by what’s fresh, local and prime.

The Grille: 12300 South Shore Blvd., Wellington; 561-793-2110; TheGrilleFashionCuisine.com

DISTRICT TABLE & BAR

District Table's roasted grass-fed marrow bones are served with onion crust, IPA mustard, herbs and toast. (LibbyVision.com)
District Table’s roasted grass-fed marrow bones are served with onion crust, IPA mustard, herbs and toast. (LibbyVision.com)

This cozy and casual eatery, which sits in a quiet suburban plaza in Stuart, is where Chef Jason Stocks and his wife Mirka Stocks pay homage to local and regional ingredients.

The chef’s Southern roots – he’s a Palm City native – are evident throughout District Table’s eclectic menu. Whether it’s his Sweet Tea Fried Chicken and jalapeño-cheddar waffle, his deviled yard eggs or his insanely good beef tartare, the chef’s talent is revealed daily in dishes that are worth driving many miles to enjoy.

District Table: 900 SE Indian St. (heading north on U.S. 1, turn left on Indian Street), Stuart; 772-324-8357; DistrictTableAndBar.com

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