Indulging in the best seafood Palm Beach County has to offer doesn’t mean breaking the bank on an impulsive dining experience or special occasion.
Enjoy tasty crustaceans, live music and culinary demonstrations on Saturday, Oct. 22 at the 3rd annual Feast of the Sea Seafood Festival at Meyer Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach. General admission is free from 11 a.m. to 4 pm. and you’ll pay under $8-$12 a dish. Get more info on other feast festivities here.
And there’s not a bad spot on the waterfront because this showdown will be projected on a large LED wall. After four rounds, the last chef standing will be crowned the “2016 Maestro del Mar” and be gifted with a $5000 check. Again, intense.
Not everyone in Palm Beach County is a freaked-out mess about this hurricane. The folks at E.R. Bradley’s Saloon plan to party right through the storm. In fact, they’re calling the place “The Official Hurricane Landfall Headquarters.”
They’re taking Hurricane Matthew’s approach as a reason to flip into full, old-Florida-watering-hole mode.
“This is how we’ve always done it. We stay open and service the downtown area. We become a hub to commiserate and celebrate and just gather,” says Nick Coniglio, whose family owns Bradley’s.
The popular pub perched on the downtown West Palm Beach waterfront has no generator to kick in during a power outage. But Coniglio is not worried.
“We’ve got lots of bagged ice and gas burners and we’re ready to go. And we have staff members who plan to tough it out during the storm,” he said, adding that he will have a police officer on premises as well. He says the restaurant and bar will offer a special $5 hurricane menu.
Coniglio’s other restaurant, Cucina Dell’Arte in Palm Beach, will be opened during the storm as well, he says. The windows there are boarded up, but the door will be open for customers who want a nice Italian meal and a cocktail.
The restaurants will also be preparing food for delivery by Cravy. (Meals can be ordered at GoCravy.com.)
“These situations bring back that local spirit. We can have a cocktail among friends, or just stop in if we need ice or something to eat,” says Coniglio.
He plans to visit both restaurants during Thursday, when the hurricane is expected to impact Palm Beach County.
“The last time I did this, it was a real eerie feeling. It’s isolated out and the winds are coming through – and a couple of people think you’re really nuts for being out,” he says. “But it was kind of a proud Floridian moment, too. This is where we live and what happens here.”
E.R. Bradley’s Saloon: 104 S. Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-833-3520
We admit the question may have teetered upon the unfocused: Who has the best coffee in Palm Beach County?
But you knew what we meant, dear readers, and there was nothing unfocused about your answers. Who has the best coffee, in brew and concept?
You voted resoundingly for Subculture Coffee, the small-batch roaster and hipster concept with locations in downtown West Palm Beach and Delray Beach.
“It’s really encouraging. As a business owner, you want your product to stand on its own,” says Sean Scott, Subculture co-owner and coffee roaster. He describes the response to his coffee and concept as a kind of “gravitational, community pull.”
Which is to say: a hit. (Also a hit were Oceana Coffee in Tequesta and the Common Grounds coffee shop in Lake Worth, which tied for second place.)
Co-owned by nightlife/restaurant czar Rodney Mayo, Subculture is both a local coffee brand and coffee shop. As a coffee brand, it uses beans harvested in far-flung places (as in Chiriquí, Panama, and Oromia, Ethiopia). Those beans are roasted in Subculture’s industrial Diedrich roaster and produce a wide range of fresh brewed coffee, diverse in flavor depth and weight.
This is not coffee that can be described as strictly bold or strictly high-octane. “Our coffee changes quarterly, due to seasonality,” says Scott. “I really focus on offering four or five different origins at a time, with each having unique characteristics. I try to roast to enhance those unique qualities in varieties.”
As a shop, its original location on Clematis Street has proven to be a game changer for that main drag’s 500 Block. Living up to its name, the shop has added a chill, creative subculture to the block.
There’s more than just coffee going on at Subculture – the place has nurtured a consistently caffeinated community and brought events like Tacos and Hip Hop to the block. All this in two and a half years.
The new space allows Scott the room to host weekly coffee appreciation classes, exploring everything from bean origin to processing technique to brewing.
“It brings coffee to the level of wine. We know that wine is complex. That’s what I want people to know about coffee,” says Scott, who plans to open the space sometime in October. “We want to move beyond the caramel macchiato and further educate our community.”
In West Palm Beach
509 Clematis St.; 561-318-5182; open Sunday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday to 2 a.m.
In Delray Beach
123 E. Atlantic Ave.; 561-808-8482; open daily from 7 a.m. to midnight
Here’s a compromise for anti-buffet types who love to brunch: a buffet that comes to you. The food is tucked into small tin pots and rolled to your table in a metal cart. Lovers of Hong Kong style cuisine call it dim sum.
Yes, I know you’ve heard about dim sum. But who are we kidding? This isn’t Hong Kong or New York or San Francisco – or any city where dim sum is more a religion than a meal. This is Palm Beach County, where dim sum menus are few and far between.
The Saturday and Sunday dim sum crowds put plenty of mileage on that metal cart. It’s laden with dumplings, finger foods and dim sum favorites.
On a recent visit, I asked my dining companions, two dim sum devotees, to order their favorite dishes. I added a couple of my own (Hello, sticky rice in lotus leaf!) and soon our table was filled with what seemed like the contents of two dim sum carts.
We feasted on plump shrimp dumplings ($4.25), pork sui mei dumplings ($3.95), raggedly finished and greasy fried taro dumplings ($4.25), dense chive dumplings ($4.25), sweet-savory steamed barbecue pork buns ($4.25), chicken feet ($3.95) and rich steamed egg custard buns ($4.25).
In this dumpling landscape, two dishes stood out as must-order: the delicious shrimp dumplings and the sui mei dumplings, which revealed their porky filling through their split tops.
Best of all, however, was a bean-curd skin roll stuffed with pork and chopped vegetables ($4.25). The beautifully seasoned filling is wrapped in a thin tofu sheet, steamed and served in a savory sauce.
Also delicious: the sticky rice in lotus leaf ($5.25), moist, nicely seasoned rice that’s wrapped in an aromatic lotus leaf and steamed until fragrant. The result is a dim sum cousin of a cornhusk-wrapped tamal or plantain-leaf-wrapped pastel. The filling takes on an ethereal layer from its steamed wrapping.
A crispy roasted duck dish ($8.50 for a quarter bird, $15.95 for a half) was ample and tasty, though slightly overcooked in parts.
We started our dim sum feast with steaming bowls of fish fillet congee ($7.25), a delicately flavored rice porridge. Hinting of ginger and dotted with chunks of mild white fish, it was downright soul-warming.
As one might guess, we had plenty of leftovers. But before those take-home containers were filled, we enjoyed our dim sum bites amid the chatter of locals in this family-owned restaurant.
No, there’s no bottomless Bloody Mary bar. But we did have a couple of pots of hot chrysanthemum tea. It soothed our full bellies on a lovely Sunday.
DIM SUM AT GRAND LAKE
ADDRESS: 7750 Okeechobee Blvd. #6, West Palm Beach
PRICE RANGE: Inexpensive to moderate
NOISE LEVEL: Low key, manageable.
FULL BAR: Beer and wine only
HOURS: Open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday to 11 p.m. Cart-served dim sum is offered Saturday and Sunday.
Palm Beach County’s foodie city of the moment is about to get more tasty. West Palm Beach might soon be home to a new food and drink-centricdistrict that’s in development along the city’s industrial zone.
The Warehouse District, a sprawling complex of vintage buildings, is shaping up to be an eclectic urban village of food and beverage creators and vendors, artists, fitness buffs and other indie entrepreneurs. Developers say they hope to open sometime in December or January.
This district will boast a New York-inspired food hall, Grange Hall Market, as well as what will be the city’s only craft beer brewery, Steam Horse. It’s located in the industrial zone that sits off Elizabeth Avenue, just southwest of the Palm Beach County Convention Center, near downtown West Palm Beach.
The food hall portion of this village is the brainchild of real estate developer Chris Vila, a transplanted New Yorker who envisions a Chelsea Market-type of place that provides locals with one-stop-food-shopping options.
“Locals can do their shopping there, buy their proteins and veggies, and take it all home to cook. Or they can just buy a whole dinner and wine and eat it there,” says Vila, son of home-improvement star Bob Vila of “This Old House” fame.
A covered loading dock will be transformed into a dining and events space, he notes, and a greenway will offer plenty of spots for enjoying a bite. Vila says he’s secured 12 vendors for Grange Hall, among them Rabbit Coffee roasters, Celis Produce vendors, plus a butcher, fishmonger, florist, coffee roaster, taco spot and rotisserie chicken joint.
Central to The District’s larger mission is that the market and other spaces within the complex will nurture independent vendors and artisans.
One of those indie vendors is Celis Produce, whose owners have nabbed a spot in Grange Hall. It will house Celis’ second location.
“The concept sounds amazing. I feel it’s what we need here,” says Felipe Celis, who co-owns a West Palm produce delivery and juice bar business with his two brothers. Besides selling produce and some pantry items at the food hall, the Celis brothers plan to sell juices, acai bowls and quinoa bowls for onsite consumption.
The District’s 85,000-square-foot area includes about eight buildings that were constructed between the 1920s and the 1950s, says Beebe.
“There’s a lot of character in those buildings. We bought them all within the last year, and we’ve undertaken this effort to essentially redevelop them,” he says.
Beebe envisions a district akin to Miami’s hip, artistic Wynwood neighborhood, “with a heavy focus on local entrepreneurs, culture, art and food – but not food in the big business kind of way.”
Adding lifestyle layers to The District, his team has signed on an indoor cycling studio, he says. “We will also have the first squash club that West Palm Beach has ever had. We’re excited about that,” says Beebe, who counts art galleries in the mix as well.
While it may seem as if developers are building a brand new neighborhood, Beebe cautions that’s not the case.
“The neighborhood exists. What we’re trying to do it bring it back to life. This is not like CityPlace where you are sprouting up with a (from-the-ground-up) development,” he says, emphasizing that The District’s project seeks to redevelop an area, not build from scratch.
He notes that many of the previous inhabitants of the industrial district were working trades that are now gone.
“A lot of those businesses have gone away, and so the buildings have become less productive,” says Beebe, who splits his time between Palm Beach and New York. “What we saw is this opportunity to reimagine the neighborhood with something that’s consistent with productivity now in West Palm Beach.”
Some of the remnants left behind by previous generations and inhabitants will serve new functions. Take the long-abandoned 1920s rail line that cuts through the property:
“We are developing the Trail Line,” says Beebe, describing a pedestrian swath of green that connects various concepts. “This will become a very active pedestrian greenway.”
West Palm’s quickly emerging food and entertainment scene provides fertile ground for The District’s development, says Vila.
“I think it’s a wonderful time to be here,” he says. “West Palm Beach is growing and can sustain something like this.”
The new brewery is headed to The Warehouse District, a sprawling urban complex that’s now under construction in West Palm Beach’s industrial district. When completed, The District will serve as its own mini-neighborhood and will be home to Grange Hall Market, an eclectic food hall, and other food and beverage spots. It’s located in the industrial zone that sits off Elizabeth Avenue, just southwest of the Palm Beach County Convention Center, near downtown West Palm Beach.
Andrewlevich and brewery partner Matt Webster hope to open next year by late spring or early summer. They tapped into the vintage rail theme in naming the new brewery. An abandoned rail spur on the property inspired images of old locomotives billowing great clouds of smoke. And so Steam Horse was born.
The brewery and large tasting room will breathe new, hoppy life into a 6000-square-foot space currently occupied by a cabinet shop. Andrewlevich notes the space, which will be mostly devoted to Steam Horse’s tasting room, is about the same size as Twisted Trunk on PGA Boulevard.
“We’re hoping to get in there by January to start the renovation. Hopefully, permits will move smoothly,” says Andrewlevich, who says building has begun on the brewing equipment for the place.
About the beers to be brewed, the brewmaster promises a “wide variety.” And while the brewery will offer no food, patrons can order from nearby restaurants and have food delivered to the tasting room.
Andrewlevich, who was the original brewmaster at the now-defunct Brewzzi brewpub in CityPlace, believes Steam Horse will be the city’s first true brewery.
“I’ve been researching this and I haven’t found any other breweries. Brewzzi was a brewpub, which is different,” he says.
He says he is most excited about joining the city’s burgeoning dining and entertainment scene. Just as Tequesta and Twisted Trunk breweries have their distinctive personalities and crowds, he expects the West Palm brewery to draw from the city’s hipster demographic.
“The market as a whole is young and vibrant and it’s Ubers and people going out. It’s a little trendier, a little more cosmopolitan,” says Andrewlevich. “We just love what’s happening in the restaurant scene, the art scene, the music scene here. Everything that’s alive is here.”
Steam Horse will join an emerging, countywide craft beer scene and native breweries that include Funky Buddha and Barrel of Monks in Boca Raton, Saltwater in Delray Beach, Due South, Copperpoint and Devour in Boynton Beach, plus Tequesta Brewing in Tequesta and Twisted Trunk in the Gardens.
The mega event, which is more “flash mob” meets “white party” than a foodie feast, returns Friday, Nov. 4, organizers announced Tuesday.
The location will not be announced until the day of the event, but Diner en Blanc West Palm Beach organizers say the new outdoor venue will accommodate more than 1500 participants.
“For this new edition, we have once again searched the city high and low to find a venue that will ‘wow’ and render this night unique and magical as well as welcome more guests,” Nora David, one of the event’s co-hosts, said via news release.
Dubbed the “world’s largest dinner party,” Diner en Blanc follows a tradition launched in Paris in 1988 as a casual picnic for friends to reconnect. It has now been replicated in more than 60 countries.
Attending this synchronized fashion spectacle is not as simple as purchasing a ticket. You must be invited to attend. You can get yourself invited by following the local Diner en Blanc folks in social media or schmoozing up a committee member or event volunteer.
Then there’s a labyrinthine registration process, which happens in three phases. And yes, even if you are approved, you pay an admission charge. (See details below.)
Finally, you must pack a full, formal picnic, a table, chairs, and table setting, all of which you must schlep into the venue. (Shuttle buses to the venue are available for registered participants.)
Diner en Blanc is a rain-or-shine event. Those who attended last year were greeted by a deluge of rain, which cleared and ushered in a pleasant night. And for all the stated formalities, the event itself turned out to be far more relaxed than anticipated, in terms of fashion and food.
DINER EN BLANC WEST PALM
When: Nov. 4
Where: Secret location, to be announced Nov. 4, shortly before the event. Participants will meet at an assigned location and will be escorted to the outdoor venue by a Diner en Blanc volunteer.
Registration: Visit westpalmbeach.dinerenblanc.info/register to register. This is a three-phase process. Phase 1 is for those who attended last year’s event. Phase 2 is for new guests who are referred by Phase I people. Phase 3 is for those who sign up online by Oct. 21 to be on the waiting list.
Small print: Once you are confirmed, you must attend (or you will be barred from future Diner en Blanc events). It’s a rain or shine event.
Dress code: “Elegant and white only,” organizers say. “Originality is encouraged as long as it is stylish and tasteful.”
Table setting: Must be all white. You must bring a table with two white chairs, white tablecloth, stemware and white dinnerware, a picnic basket packed with “fine” food. Only wine or Champagne are permitted (must be reserved through online e-store). No beer or hard liquor. Organizers ask that guests refrain from bringing their own alcohol.
Catering option: Will be offered onsite for a charge. This option can be reserved through the website.
Clean up: After it’s over, take everything with you – including litter.
Cholo Soy Cocina, a tiny space with epic dreams, is set to open next week on West Palm Beach’s Antique Row, says its chef/owner Clay Carnes.
Carnes, who left his spacious Wellington restaurant, The Grille, to pursue his street-food-joint goals, expects to open Friday, Sept. 23.
He describes the concept as “neo-Andean, Ecuadorean,” inspired by his years working as a hotel chef in Cuenca, Ecuador. On the menu: interesting snacks, small dishes, handmade tortillas crafted of organic, non-GMO white corn grown in Alachua County.
“The thing I’m most excited about is that I can finally start making these tortillas,” says Carnes, who also will be smoking and braising meats and frying tempura fish for taco fillings.
He has designed a menu that’s varied enough to please a range of tastes and diets.
“We will have food options for everybody. We’ll be able to accommodate dietary preferences naturally because our menu is for everybody. If you’re vegan, we have you covered naturally. Whatever crazy trend you’re doing, you’ll be able to do it here,” says Carnes, who will also offer a selection of beer and wine as well as locally brewed kombucha on draft and locally roasted coffee.
Carnes, a Food Network “Cutthroat Kitchen” winner, plans to grow his own herbs, peppers and other veggies on Cholo’s patio, which will likely hold the spillover crowd from the 600-square-foot indoor space. Inside, there will be four tables seating eight to ten guests, plus limited room at the stand-up counter. Patio benches can accommodate another 25.
The cozy, communal factor is all part of Cholo’s street-stand vibe.
Cholo Soy translates to “I am cholo,” Latin American slang for mixed race or mestizo.
Hours: Opens Sept. 23 and will keep the following hours: Open Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Mondays.
The unexpected can happen when National Guacamole Day falls on a Friday (which would be today). The craving for blinged out, creamy avocado dip and those unruly TGIF thoughts can build – and before you know it, you’re swigging micheladas and diving into a bowl of green goop.
Then again, the unexpected can involve something less basic. It can involve ginger, as does the Ginger Guacamole at Avocado Grillin downtown West Palm Beach.
How does one use ginger in guac? We’ve got the recipe. TGIF, indeed!