REVIEW: Water view at ‘Che’ elevates a simple empanada

On a crisp day in Delray Beach, it doesn’t get much better than this: a waterfront view, rosé sipping and tapas noshing, and snippets of rumba adrift on the patio.

Perched on the Intracoastal: Che in Delray Beach. (Contributed by Che)
Perched on the Intracoastal: Che in Delray Beach. (Contributed by Che)

No, it wasn’t a bad way to meet Che, the 3-month-old restaurant perched on the Intracoastal in Delray Beach. The fact that it was still Happy Hour when I got there made the intro even better. That’s the magical period when the restaurant serves 5-buck delicacies such as eggplant chips, long, crispy shavings stacked in surreal patterns.

The sparkling view and delicious starter gave me the feeling that this place would be a good one. Then the server felt the need to overshare. That was moments after he dropped an F-bomb at me – in a good way, I suppose. He used it as an adverb to qualify the word “amazing,” which he used to describe the steaks.

When my dining companion arrived, I brought her up to speed.

“Our server says the steaks are ‘f#*% amazing.’ He’s also ‘f#*% hungover.’”

At Che, a view that screams "Delray Beach!" (Liz Balmaseda/ Palm Beach Post)
At Che, a view that screams “Delray Beach!” (Liz Balmaseda/ Palm Beach Post)

He was charming in the way your party friend from college is charming. But, yes, he was clueless. When I asked about the terrific, smooth and smoky red dipping sauce served alongside Che’s hearty, overstuffed empanada, he said it was a classic Argentinian chimichurri.

It was a delicious twist on the classic condiment, but for the most part, chimichurri is green, a hand-minced garlic, herb and oil sauce. The server told us chimi is always red in Argentina and green in Brazil. Charming, but mistaken.

Che's overstuffed empanada. (Liz Balmaseda/ Palm Beach Post)
Che’s overstuffed empanada. (Liz Balmaseda/ Palm Beach Post)

Condiment theories aside, this was a tasty empanada (two for $9), its crispy fried crust encasing chopped premium beef studded with chopped olives, peppers and egg. And we couldn’t get enough of that smoky red sauce. It was served with a lightly dressed tangle of arugula and sliced baby tomatoes.

This empanada shares the menu with other starters that reflect Che’s South American and Iberian roots. The concept was dreamed up in Buenos Aires and brought to being in Spain by sibling restaurateurs Daniela and Martin Sujoy. Some 15 years later, they have a “Che” family of 15 related restaurants in Spain.

Eggplant chips on the patio at Che. (Liz Balmaseda/ Palm Beach Post)
Eggplant chips on the patio at Che. (Liz Balmaseda/ Palm Beach Post)

The Spanish influence on Che (a Rio de la Plata expression which can mean “hey!” or “bro,” among other things) declares itself in a Galician style octopus appetizer ($11), a gazpacho starter ($8), a plate of cured Iberico meats and cheeses ($15) and a classic seafood paella ($48 for two).

The Argentine inspiration is told in classics such as morcilla (blood sausage, $9), provoleta (grilled provolone, $12) and a heap of grilled steaks, ranging from $29 for brochettes to $64 for a 24-ounce butterflied South American NY strip. We landed somewhere near the middle, ordering the “George V” filet steak ($43), an 8-ounce prime South American tenderloin served with caramelized onions and veggies in a red wine glaze, with a side of potato gratin.

Grass-fed South American rib-eye steak at Che. (Photo: Alissa Dragun)
Grass-fed South American rib-eye steak at Che. (Photo: Alissa Dragun)

To my eyes, 8 ounces never seemed as robust. This filet towered above the veggie sauté. It was large enough to share. It was not as buttery as one might expect from a filet cut, but the steak was tender, a true medium-rare beneath a smoky char.

In the non-beef department, the grilled Pacific King Salmon ($30) did not disappoint. It was prepared medium-rare as well, revealing a moist interior. The salmon is served with nicely grilled asparagus and a black trumpet mushroom risotto that proved better in flavor than in texture. I prefer a creamy, more loose risotto. This one had the consistency of clumpy rice pudding.

Pacific King Salmon is served with risotto. (Photo: Alissa Dragun)
Pacific King Salmon is served with risotto. (Photo: Alissa Dragun)

All this in a menu that also includes wood-fired flat breads ($12). The menu’s range makes this an ideal waterfront spot. You don’t want a steak? Have a fig-blue cheese flat bread and a glass of wine. The setting is outstanding.

The waterfront Delray Beach location, which inhabits the former Hudson at Waterway East property, is the Sujoy family’s first U.S. location. And it is a beauty, with crisp, white walls and chairs, velvety teal booths and banquettes and simple wooden deck touches. Che infused light and just the right amount of teal blue into a dim space.

Soothing tones: Che's decor seems to flow outward. (Photo: Alissa Dragun)
Soothing tones: Che’s decor seems to flow outward. (Photo: Alissa Dragun)

Now those shimmery waters outside find their reflection in the restaurant’s furnishings. The view, it seems, begins inside and flows outward. The minds behind the restaurant’s décor maximized the visual gifts of the place.

Fresh look: Che took over the old Hudson space. (Photo: Alissa Dragun)
Fresh look: Che took over the old Hudson space. (Photo: Alissa Dragun)

What a lucky thing for local lovers of Argentinian and Spanish foods: a place where the empanada comes with one of the best views in South Florida.

REVIEW

Che Restaurant

FOOD: B

SERVICE: C

ADDRESS: 900 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach

TELEPHONE: 561-562-5200

WEBSITE: Delray.CheRestaurant.com

PRICE RANGE: Moderate to expensive

NOISE LEVEL: Lively, but conversation is possible.

FULL BAR: Yes, a full liquor bar; separate bar areas.

HOURS: Open daily from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

CREDIT CARDS: Major cards accepted

RESERVATIONS: Dinner reservations are strongly suggested.

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

WHAT THE GRADES MEAN:

A — Excellent

B — Good

C — Average

D — Poor

F — Don’t bother

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New waterfront restaurant opens in Delray Beach

Che has taken over the former Hudson at Waterway East in Delray Beach. (Contributed)
Che has taken over the former Hudson at Waterway East in Delray Beach. (Contributed)

A rare Argentinian-owned restaurant has landed on the banks of the Intracoastal in Delray Beach. Che Restaurant opened Monday in the sprawling space formerly occupied by Hudson at Waterway East.

Dreamed up in Buenos Aires, the restaurant concept was brought to life in Spain by brother-sister restaurateurs Daniela and Martin Sujoy. On Spanish soil, they built a Che empire of 15 related restaurants in 15 years. (They include Che Pizza & Pasta, Che Asador Argentino and Che American Style).

Related: Best waterfront restaurants in Palm Beach County

Now comes their first U.S. location in Delray Beach’s buzzy dining district: a restaurant that’s described as part modern steakhouse, part casual international eatery. “Che” is a multipurpose expression common in the Rio de la Plata region. It can mean “hey!” or “bro,” among other things.

“For Delray Beach, we wanted to pay homage to our Argentinian roots while highlighting European inspiration,” said Martin Sujoy via news release.

Che offers various types of paellas similar to this one. (Mia Yakel/ Cox Newspapers)
Che offers various types of paellas similar to this one. (Mia Yakel/ Cox Newspapers)

The Sujoy family got its start in the food industry in Argentina, where they managed country club concessions before opening a financial district restaurant that grew into a catering operation.

At Che Delray, expect dishes with Argentine and Spanish accents on the menu. There are Argentinian classics like choripan (chorizo sandwich), Buenos Aires-style pastas and grass-fed South American steaks with chimichurri sauce. Inspired by Spain, there’s Galician-style octopus and paellas. On the side: sparkling waterfront views.

The Sujoys hired Spanish interior design company Paco Pleguezuelos to breathe new life into the 8000-square-foot space. The result is a sprawling restaurant with inside/outside dining areas and two bars, with plenty of room for large parties in between.

Hours: open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.

Che Delray Beach: 900 E. Atlantic Ave.; 561-562-5200; CheRestaurant.com

 

 

Father’s Day: The ‘papa’ behind the tapas in Delray Beach

Cristobal Parra is the "papa" at Delray Beach's popular Papa's Tapas restaurant. (Melanie Bell / The Palm Beach Post)
Papa’s place: Cristobal Parra at Papa’s Tapas, Delray Beach. (Melanie Bell/ The Palm Beach Post)

Cristobal “Papa” Parra rises before dawn each day with a set of purposes: to cook, to work and to love his family. He’s the “Papa” behind Delray Beach’s popular Papa’s Tapas restaurant and the patriarch of a spirited blended brood. 

At 71, he still does the shopping, the prep work, and much of the cooking at the Pineapple Grove eatery. His work ethic has roots in a Spanish port town — and it has spawned roots in his expanded family. Those who call him “Papa” are as grateful as they are devoted to him.

Cristobal Parra is the "papa" at Delray Beach's popular Papa's Tapas restaurant. His crew always claps for him at the end of his shift. Pictured are (left to right) Annie Kolensky, manager and daughter, Michael Darcy, server, Raymond Diverniero, floor manager, Susie Parra, wife and dessets, Cristobal Parra, chef and owner, Yvette Meneses, daughter, chef and kitchen manager and Aldo Mercado, sous chef. (Melanie Bell / The Palm Beach Post)
Bravo: Applause for Cristobal Parra and “Mama” Susie Parra. (Melanie Bell/ The Palm Beach Post)

They show this with a weekly round of applause as he leaves the kitchen.

READ ALL ABOUT PAPA AND HIS TAPAS HERE.

Papa's Tapas' pitchers of homemade sangria pair well with Papa's montaditos (sandwich bites), topped with assorted meats, sausages, anchovies and Manchego cheese, as well as with (in back) Dominican-style chicharrones de pollo con tostones (fried chicken bits with crispy fried green plantains). (Melanie Bell/ The Palm Beach Post)
Homemade sangria pairs well with Papa’s Tapas’ montaditos. (Melanie Bell/ The Palm Beach Post)