Critic’s pick: 3 courses, wine and live tunes at Boca Raton bistro

Marie Gattacieca and husband/chef Stephane Gattacieca are the owners of Chez Marie French Bistro, located at the Polo Club Shoppes Plaza in Boca Raton. (Contributed by Andrea Mate)
Owners Marie and Stephane Gattacieca at Chez Marie, Boca Raton. (Contributed by Andrea Mate)

South county pick: CHEZ MARIE

This Boca Raton bistro is celebrating Beaujolais Nouveau Day in grand style, complete with a three-course, prix fixe menu and live music.

The eatery is cozy and often lively, featuring some nights of live music. On Beaujolais Day (Thursday, Nov. 19), the entertainment comes courtesy of vocalist and keyboard player Thierry Khalfa, who performs classics from the ’50s to today, plus French pop songs and other global tunes.

The special three-course menu that night, which costs $29.90, includes a sample glass of this year’s Beaujolais.

Chez Marie French Bistro: 5030 Champion Blvd., Suite D3 in the Polo Club Shoppes, Boca Raton; 561-997-0027; ChezMarieFrenchBistro.com

Critic’s pick, West Palm Beach: a lively bistro for sipping new Beaujolais

Customers enjoy dinner at Pistache bistro and bar in downtown West Palm Beach on April 18, 2015.  (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Alfresco dining at Pistache, West Palm Beach. (Richard Graulich/ The Palm Beach Post)

Central county pick: PISTACHE

There are many reasons to dine at Pistache at lunch, dinner, late-night bites or weekend brunch. There’s also the setting: The eatery is perched by the downtown West Palm Beach waterfront, offering a view of the lively commons. But perhaps the best reason to dine here is the outstanding food.

Chef de cuisine Isaac Cerny and sous-chef Sam Horrocks lend a refined touch to a menu of French favorites. On a recent visit, I tried their delicious “confit” treatment of a chicken leg served over brunch waffles. (The chicken is slow-cooked in fat using a traditional preserving technique.) The flavors on the plate spanned that decadent stretch between rich and richer.

That chicken leg will be on the menu on Beaujolais Nouveau Day (Thursday, Nov. 19), though this time it will be served with a side of maque choux (Cajun succotash), pea tendrils and sauce “diable” (hot sauce).

Other a la carte specials to pair with your glass or bottle of Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais that day: chicken “oyster” and andouille gumbo, zucchini blossom beignets, mirliton and Anjou pear salad, grouper in court bouillon and pork tenderloin.

Pistache French Bistro: 101 N. Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-833-5090; PistacheWPB.com

Twitter: @LizBalmaseda

Critic’s pick in Jupiter: Venture into The Woods Halloween weekend

TheWoodsMenuBALMASEDA

North county pick: THE WOODS

This 2-month-old restaurant and bar, owned by golf superstar Tiger Woods, has been a hit at the Harbourside Place dining and shopping complex in Jupiter. And for good reason: The food is delicious, the service superb.

It’s a steakhouse with the approachability of a sports bar, and the dish that best bridges the two concepts is the rib-eye sandwich. (That melted goodness atop the tender steak is Drunken Goat cheese.)

Halloween revelers, if you hit Harbourside Place Friday night, you may want to pack a picnic blanket or chair – there’s a free viewing of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” at 6:30 p.m. at the waterfront amphitheater, which sits across from The Woods.

If you visit the complex on Halloween night, you may want to see the canine costume contest (6 p.m.) before dinner. That event is hosted by the pooch shop Pucci & Catana.

The Woods: 129 Soundings Ave., at Harbourside Place, Jupiter; 561-320-9627; WoodsJupiter.com

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: good beer and gastro pub grub in Delray Beach

Tryst, Delray Beach. (Richard Graulich/ The Palm Beach Post)
Tryst, Delray Beach. (Richard Graulich/ The Palm Beach Post)

South county pick: TRYST

Tryst in Delray Beach epitomizes the gastro pub concept with inspired plates, a free-wheeling selection of craft beers, boutique wines and cocktails and an eclectic setting for nightly dinner and drinks. (Check Tryst’s Facebook page for terrific nightly specials.)

A homey brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., featuring some country-style breakfast items as well as burgers and sandwiches.

You may not know this, but there’s a bacon omelet with Vermont cheddar and sweet peppers calling your name.

Tryst: 4 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561-921-0201; TrystDelray.com

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

 

Critic’s pick: baklava and belly dancing in Northwood

A variety of mezze dishes are served at Agora Mediterranean Kitchen in the Northwood district of West Palm Beach. (LibbyVision.com)
Mezze madness at Agora Mediterranean Kitchen, West Palm Beach. (LibbyVision.com)

Central county pick: AGORA MEDITERRANEAN KITCHEN

Travel to Turkey without leaving this friendly eatery in West Palm Beach. Go the mezze route, dabbling in Aegean dips, dolma (stuffed grape leaves), grilled octopus and other small plates. Or feast on fish dishes such as red snapper in parchment, or a range of Mediterranean classics.

Salads are outstanding – and ample. Desserts are homemade. And if you over-do the calorie count on a Friday or Saturday night, you can always burn it off when the belly dancing starts at about 8 p.m.

Agora Mediterranean Kitchen: 2505 N. Dixie Highway, Northwood district, West Palm Beach; 561-651-7474; AgoraKitchenWPB.com

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

 

Critic’s pick: nice-price wines at Lake Park’s Pelican Café

A selection of wines inside The Pelican Cafe in Lake Park on May 16, 2014. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
The Pelican Cafe, Lake Park. (Richard Graulich/ The Palm Beach Post)

North county pick: PELICAN CAFÉ

The owners of Lake Park’s charming Pelican Café have returned from vacation in a generous mode. After a short break, they reopened the eatery last week with a terrific “fall back” deal:

All wines by the glass or bottle are half-price through the end of October. The café’s wine selection offers spot-on pairings for the Pelican’s Italian-centric menu.

Bonus: Dine between 5 and 6 p.m. and get 20 percent off your entire check. Reservations are strongly suggested for dinner. Closed Mondays. See full hours on the café’s website.

Pelican Café: 612 US Highway 1, Lake Park; 561-842-7272; ThePelicanCafe.com

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

 

Critic’s pick: fresh-baked bread and prime pizza in Royal Palm Beach

Margherita pizza at Francesca's Pizza and Wine Bar, Royal Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)
Margherita pizza at Francesca’s, Royal Palm Beach. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)

Central-west county pick: FRANCESCA’S

This is the kind of red-sauce place you’d want in your neighborhood.

At Francesca’s Pizza & Restaurant, husband and wife team Danielle Vallone and Tasos Kentimenos bake their bread fresh daily, handcraft the marinara and all the classic dishes. Kentimenos is a master of the pizza crust — he turns out a nicely crisp, but substantial crust.

The eatery offers a nice wine and craft beer menu, ample, fresh salads and tasty appetizers.

Bread is baked fresh daily at Francesca's. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)
Bread is baked fresh daily at Francesca’s. (Damon Higgins/ The Palm Beach Post)

Dining deal: Spend $15 (before tax and tip) at Francesca’s and get a free appetizer plate of mozzarella sticks, fried ravioli, zucchini sticks or garlic bread with cheese. The offer is good until Nov. 30 and cannot be combined with any other discounts.

Francesca’s Pizza & Restaurant: 11452 Okeechobee Blvd., Royal Palm Beach; 561-422-0600

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

 

Critic’s pick: Jupiter roadside shack where hot dogs are king

Foot-long with onions and mustard at Dune Dog. (Richard Graulich/ Palm Beach Post)
Foot-long with onions and mustard at Dune Dog. (Richard Graulich/ Palm Beach Post)

North county pick: DUNE DOG CAFÉ

In our Old Florida-loving hearts, we pray there will always be places like this: a rustic, open-sided structure that serves some delicious hot dogs.

Not all of Dune Dog’s hot dogs are franks, mind you. The Sea Dogs, for instance, are fish fillets fried crispy and tucked into toasted New England-style rolls.

Of course, if you’ve come to this 21-year-old establishment for a meaty dog, belly up to the counter and go for a Chicago Dog, flanked by long slices of pickle, then topped with tomatoes, raw onions and a sprinkling of celery salt.

Foot-long with onions and mustard at Dune Dog. (Richard Graulich/ Palm Beach Post)
Foot-long with onions and mustard at Dune Dog. (Richard Graulich/ Palm Beach Post)

Grab a spot where you can find it and settle into let the shack’s cross-ventilation chase away the humidity as you focus on the finer things in life, like Dune Dog’s five-napkin Junkyard Dog (chili, cheese, diced onions, sauce).

Dune Dog Café: 775 Alternate A1A, Jupiter, 561-744-6667; DuneDog.com

TWITTER: @LizBalmaseda

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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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