What are the 20 best restaurants in Palm Beach County right now?
That’s a tricky question. Every 20-best list not only is subjective and unique, but it’s also constantly in flux. New restaurants open and replace others. It’s the cycle that keeps our local culinary scene fresh and vibrant.
Here’s an unexpected nod of “foodie” approval: Verified subscribers of the OpenTable.com reservation site have selected just one Palm Beach County establishment in a newly released, top-restaurant list.
The list of “100 Best Restaurants for Foodies in America for 2016” names Boca Raton’s La Nouvelle Maison, passing over better known “foodie” spots across the county.
The restaurant, which opened two years ago, was inspired by the locally beloved La Vieille Maison, which closed in 2006. And like La Vieille Maison, La Nouvelle Maison aims to be a temple of fine French cuisine.
“We work hard on the food, the service. Nothing goes by us. We put our hearts and soul here every day,” said a surprised Guido Barisone, La Nouvelle Maison’s general manager/partner when we told him about the honor.
The restaurant’s menu reflects the classic inspiration in the form of Burgundy-style escargots, foie gras on brioche, a trio of caviars, steak frites, rack of lamb in thyme-scented jus, dessert crepes and many other dishes.
Apart from La Nouvelle Maison, two other Florida restaurants made the list: Naples’ bha! bha! Persian Bistro and Maison Blanche in Longboat Key. They share the larger list with highly acclaimed restaurants such as New Orleans’ Shaya and Chicago’s Michelin-starred Boka.
OpenTable arrived at its “Best Restaurants for Foodies” list after “analyzing more than five million reviews of more than 20,000 restaurants across the country,” all submitted by verified member diners, according to the website.
“These standout restaurants are delicious destinations for the most passionate eaters — those for whom dining out is practically sport,” Caroline Potter, OpenTable Chief Dining Officer, said via news release. “Using ingredients both humble and exotic and drawing culinary inspiration from around the globe, this year’s honorees consistently offer thrilling experiences sure to please even the most discerning diners.”
The site introduced its newest list by defining the judges like this: “Foodies. Gourmands. Epicureans. These are the people seeking adventure on a plate.”
The honored restaurants, says OpenTable, serve “delicious dishes from rustic to refined, meant to be shared with both forks and phones.”
What’s an “essential” restaurant in Florida? According to the gastronaut site, Eater.com, it’s not some new, trendy spot.
It’s an iconic Tampa steakhouse.
The website, which surveys the nation’s dining scene, from haute to hip to humble, features Bern’s Steak House, which turns 60 this year. The venerable meat palace is one of 38 U.S. restaurants – and the only one in Florida – listed in Eater’s newly released “National 38” list of “essential” American eateries.
“It’s our guide not to what is newest or trendiest, but to what defines and anchors us,” writes Eater’s editor-in-chief, Amanda Kludt, on the “Essential Restaurants” package, released Wednesday. “The restaurants on the list are young and old, upscale and accessible, and together, they go a long way toward cohesively defining the food scene of our great nation and its multifaceted, ever-changing dining landscape.”
Bern’s is listed in distinguished company, alongside Berkeley’s Café at Chez Panisse, New Orleans’ Herbsaint, New York’s Estela, Charleston’s FIG, Austin’s Franklin Barbecue, Washington D.C.’s Rose’s Luxury, Chicago’s Alinea, and L.A.’s Trois Mec.
About Bern’s, Eater notes: “Baronial chophouses are a cornerstone of America’s restaurant culture, but Bern’s, which opened in 1956, exists in its own west Florida dimension of eccentricity and excellence.”