My Assistant Marti & I were invited to The Balcony, a vibrant New Orleans-Inspired restaurant on Las Olas Blvd which opened approximately 8 months ago to check out their new menu which recently launched and now features even more dynamic dishes including some American favorites and tapas for sharing. To celebrate the launch of their new menu, The Balcony is offering a buy one entrée, get one 50% off special on Monday, March 25–Thursday, March 28 from 4–7 p.m.
Our server Myana (pronounced like Bryanna), was super nice and very knowledgeable about the menu items. The cocktail list was quite extensive and loaded with lots of interesting concoctions. Marti had the Sazerac which was made with Angel’s Envy Bourbon, Pernod Absinthe, Peychaud’s Bitters & Lemon ($15) I opted for the Pink Pearl which was made with Stoli Elit Vodka, Disaronno, Fresh Strawberries & Lime ($15). They were both excellent. Off to a great start. Then GM John and Chef Simon came over to welcome us and let us know that they would be sending out a variety of items for us to try and informed us if there was anything else we saw on the menu that we wanted to try, we were welcome. We were in for a treat for sure!
First out was the gumbo soup. This soup hit all the right notes and flavor profiles for me. It was a great surprise since I had never been one to fancy gumbo before. The warm crusty bread was a nice compliment as well. Great job, Chef! Next up was the Natchitoches Beef Pies (beef empanadas). Natchitoches is a city in Louisiana that is famous for making these little pillows of heaven. They were packed with flavor and I enjoyed the garlic dipping sauce it came with. The other sauce, we were given advance warning, was hot so I stuck to the garlic one. The crab cakes were not only adorable but very tasty. The perfect shareable dish. Chef sent out their signature salad, the Mardi Gras Peach & Berry. What a gorgeous salad; it just popped with color. Chef Simon explained to us that he pickles and poaches the peaches in the peak of season so that he is able to use them year round. We both really liked the freshness of each component of the salad. Our next tasting was the Baton Rouge Beef Sliders and the Shrimp Po Boy. The beef sliders were topped with housemade bacon jam, abita beer cheese, caramelized onion and pickled serrano (I actually didn’t know there was a serrano pepper in there, so if you’re a wimp like me in the spice/heat department, don’t worry). This burger was THE BOMB!!! I am love with it for sure. The Shrimp Po Boy, on the other hand, lacked a little flavor for me and out of all the dishes we tried, was my least favorite. But not to worry, we got right back on track again with the Lobster Bisque made with cognac cream. It was heavenly and I would highly recommend this dish. It ranks up there as one of my favorite lobster bisques of all times. Marti had never tried fried green tomatoes before and I’m a fan when done right and boy did these deliver in the flavor department. They too, raised the bar on which all fried green tomatoes will forever be judged. OK, I’m sure by now you’re wondering how in the world we could still fit anything into our bellies, right?!? Well, we couldn’t resist at least trying a beignet. When you think of beignets, most undoubtedly the famous place in New Orleans, you know the one comes to mind. After popping one of these lovelies in my mouth, I just closed my eyes and within seconds, I began to feel as if I had been transported to New Orleans. These beignets were served with 3 unique dipping sauces; berry jam, spiced chocolate and orange marmalade.
Besides the Lobster Bisque, other new menu items include Vegetable Dumplings, Braised Meatballs, Chicken Cobb Salad, Oyster Po’Boy and more.
“This new and diverse menu offers something for everyone!” said Kim Bokamper, former Miami Dolphins player and partner in PDKN Restaurant Group, which owns The Balcony. “Boasting the savory tastes of New Orleans along with American favorites, the menu merges a variety of appetizing flavors within many unique dishes.”
Both the lunch and dinner menus offer the following new dishes:
Tapas:Vegetable Dumplings with sweet serrano chili sauce ($12), Coconut Crusted Shrimp with sweet mango serrano sauce ($15), and Braised Meatballs with house made tomato sauce ($13).
Soup:Lobster Bisque with cognac cream ($7 on lunch menu; $8 on dinner menu)
Salad:Chicken Cobb with avocado, Applewood smoked bacon, Point Reyes blue cheese, egg, heirloom tomato, romaine lettuce, and creamy Cajun dressing ($14 on lunch menu; $16 on dinner menu); Seared Ahi Tuna with heirloom tomato, cucumber, arugula, and lime dressing ($16 on lunch menu; $18 on dinner menu).
Hand Helds:Oyster Po’Boy with heirloom tomato, lettuce, Meyer lemon remoulade, and fries ($15 on lunch menu; $16 on dinner menu); The Burger with lettuce, tomato, onion and fries ($1 add cheese, $2 add Applewood smoked bacon) ($12 on lunch menu; $14 on dinner menu).
Sides: Mash ‘n’ Collards with Applewood smoked bacon, mashed potato, and collard greens ($7); Fries with moonshine ketchup ($5); Mashed Potatoes with cream and butter ($6); and Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with pecan maple glaze ($7).
The following new dishes are available only on the dinner menu:
Main Plates: Half Roast Chicken with red beans and rice ($19); Shrimp ‘n’ Grits with Carolina BBQ shrimp and cheese grits ($26); 8 oz.Filet Mignon with Mash ‘n’ Collards, crispy onions and Madeira sauce ($32); 14 oz. Prime New York Strip with sautéed mushrooms and fries ($38); Grilled Salmon with corto poached potatoes, sautéed Brussels sprouts, and Meyer lemon herb butter ($28); Grilled Ahi Tuna with glass noodles, stir fry vegetables, and sesame seeds ($36); and Pan Seared Chilean Sea Bass with corto poached potatoes and Sicilian ragout ($39).
Side: Glazed Sweet Potatoes with toasted pecans and marshmallow ($7).
Wed HUMP DAY ALL DAY HAPPY HOUR 50% OFF DRINKS & BAR BITES, $5 HUMPSTER HURRICANES, 50% OFF BOTTLES OF WINE (bottles $100 & under), $9.99 SHRIMP PO’BOY & DRAFT BEER
Thu (7pm – close) Ladies Night: FREE Tito’s Vodka Cocktails, FREE Bubbles – Live Music – DJ
Fri (2 – 5pm) Ditch Friday: $3 Abita Draft Beer, $4 House Wines, $5 Tito’s Vodka Cocktails & Martinis, Happy Hour: ($4 – 7pm Half off Drinks & Bar Bites
There’s actually more, so to get a complete list or for more information about The Balcony and its new menu, visit www.thebalconylasolas.com or call (754) 200-6344.
ABOUT THE BALCONY
The Balcony, a PDKN Restaurant Group concept, offers a New Orleans-inspired restaurant with a twist. Located on trendy Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, this two-story restaurant features the dynamic tastes of New Orleans, which blends French, Spanish, West African, Amerindian, German, Italian, Irish and Vietnamese ingredients. Guests enjoy New Orleans-style small plates, craft cocktails and live music. The Balcony is owned by former Miami Dolphins player Kim Bokamper and his three partners, who also own Bokamper’s Sports Bar & Grill, with locations in Fort Lauderdale, Miramar, Plantation, Naples, and Estero. The Balcony is located at 1309 E. Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale FL 33301. The restaurant is open Monday-Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.; Thursday-Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. For more information, visitwww.thebalconylasolas.com or call (754) 200-6344.
ABOUT PDKN RESTAURANT GROUP
PDKN Restaurant Group was founded by former Miami Dolphins player Kim Bokamper and his three partners, P.J. Kavanagh, Damon DeSantis and Noel Cullen, in 2008. Following Bokamper’s successful sports and broadcasting career, he was approached by current partner Kavanagh about furthering his brand through a restaurant. The first Bokamper’s Sports Bar & Grill was founded in 2008 in Plantation, Florida. Today, the group owns five Bokamper’s restaurants locations in Florida: Fort Lauderdale, Plantation, Miramar, Naples, and Estero ― all dedicated to providing exceptional service, great food, and an unparalleled atmosphere for friends, families and sports fans of all ages. PDKN Restaurant Group also owns and operates The Balcony, a New Orleans-inspired restaurant on Fort Lauderdale’s Las Olas Boulevard and Bo’s Beach, featuring fresh seafood and stunning ocean views on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
As a second generation native South Floridian, born and raised in Miami, I have seen a huge transformation in Miami, and in particular, Miami Beach. When we were young, I fondly remember riding on the long stretch of road that connected the main land to the beach; this was an indication that we were getting close to Great Grandmother’s.My Great Grandparents (Bessie & Frank) were direct descendants from Russia, a cute couple, each standing about 5′ tall. I don’t remember Frank too much as he died before Bessie, but my Great Grandma lived until the ripe ol’ age of 106. (She received two letters from the President of the time congratulating her on making it to a 100 years!) Back in that time, Collins Ave/Ocean Drive was lined with condos occupied by the senior community. You would find many of them just hanging out in rocking chairs on the front porches. That was until the developers stepped in and the gentrification process officially took off. Today, the landscape is one of youth and vibrancy. The hip, chic place with plenty of nightlife to keep you busy until the wee hours.
I received an email inviting me come taste A Fish Called Avalon, Located in the iconic Avalon Hotel on Ocean Drive, the setting offers an authentic, sophisticated South Beach experience. Many locals tend to have an impression that dining out in South Beach is for tourists, but I’m here to dispel that belief right here and now, at least when it comes to A Fish Called Avalon. Now in it’s 30th year, this marks quite a milestone in the restaurant world. Fun fact: this time-tested landmark had been the back drop for the 1983 film, Scarface.
TIME-HONORED SEAFOOD TRADITION IN MIAMI BEACH
A Fish Called Avalon is a legend in South Beach. For nearly 30 years, they have been serving up the freshest seafood and delivering an exceptional dining experience to all who partake. The superb cuisine, relaxed Ocean Drive setting, and impeccable service have been delighting diners for nearly three decades.
Garnering attention for its superb seafood cuisine, impeccable hospitality and intimate setting, the restaurant is a favorite with locals and visitors alike.
Chef Kal& A Fish CalledAvalon offer a seafood-dominated menu with tropical influences using the very best local and seasonal ingredients delivered daily. Each item shines with a variety of unique presentation and flavors.
Chef prepared a wonderful selection of tastings for my Product Development Manager, Annette and I to taste. We sat on the lovely terrace and it was a beautiful night. Annette and I enjoyed every morsel. Our taste buds were literally (well ok, figuratively) jumping up and down in joy! While I really liked everything that was placed in front of us, I thought the Bang Bang Shrimp were very unique here and were a definite stand out for me. The Macadamia Nut crusted snapper was another nice surprise for me. I am a huge fan of octopus when cooked right and Chef did an outstanding job with this as well. The presentation on the paella was top notch and packed full of fruits from the sea.
Tempting appetizers like the Bang Bang Shrimp and Orzo Seafood Paella for a main course are perfect for a romantic date night to evoke Mediterranean memories. The menu also offers prime and dry-aged steaks, organic chicken, and vegetarian-friendly options each with a perfect complement from the extensive award-winning wine list. Delectable desserts end the evening on a sweet note.
A Fish Called Avalon Accolades
Top 10 Best Restaurants and Best Outdoor Dining Winner in South Florida by OpenTable reviewers.
Ranked 30 of 787 Restaurants in Miami Beach TripAdvisor
A Fish Called Avalon is perfect for romantic dinners, a family affair, or a night out on the town. I can’t wait to go back and hope that I have inspired you to want to check it out as well. Pro tip: Diners can park in the parking garage conveniently located at the corner of 7th and Collins.
For more info on the restaurant, please click here to visit their website:
Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar Debuts Festive New Fall Menu New Additions Include Vegan/Vegetarian, Gluten Free Farm-To-Table Dishes
Hello Foodie Friends,
Today’s blog is about my recent dinner at Harvest Seasonal Grill. I was invited to check out their new Fall menu so I could share my experience with all of you. My last two posts on Harvest both featured previous Spring menus. The Fall menu was released the end of September and will run through the holidays at which time the new Winter menu will be launched.
My companion and I were shown to our table and soon greeted by our server Jake, who ran through the menu layout with us. My companion had some questions on the wines. Jake was very knowledgeable about the wines on the menu and exceptionally helpful in his explanations..I always enjoy Harvest’s seasonal sangria flights so that is what I decided to begin with. My companion opted for a Cab Franc blend called Involuntary Commitment from Napa Valley. Harvest has a large number of wine varietals that you don’t see on other restaurant menus.
My Sangria Flight consisted of: White Caramel Apple, Rosé Ginger Pear, and Red Blood Orange Pomegranate. The Rosé sangrias have been my favorite in the past, but this time, the Red Blood Orange Pomegranate got my vote for top pick. Now onto the food tastings. Chef Bill came out to say hello and after a brief discussion, he offered to send out a few dishes for us to try. We started off with the Pear & Bleu flatbread. (Spoiler alert: this was my favorite item of the entire evening). The flatbread was PACKED with flavor and they were very generous with their toppings which were well distributed.
Next out were the Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash Dip and Tuna Poke.
Next round were the Diver Scallops, Grilled Filet Mignon, Pumpkin Tortellini and side of roasted seasonal vegetables
There definitely was a butternut squash theme going on with our selections on this evening. So if you’re a butternut squash lover, be sure to head over to Harvest Seasonal Grill right now to get your fill of butternut squash!
For dessert, we were presented with their minis:one was a Spiced Apple, one was Pecan something and one was a Key lime cheesecake. In all honesty, I did not have room to taste any of the desserts, but my companion did and said the Spiced Apple had an abundance of cayenne in it and the Pecan one was a bit hard and the Key Lime tasted mostly like vanilla frosting. I guess the desserts must have been off on this day, because this is quite unusual to have a miss on 3 out of 3. I have always enjoyed their desserts in the past and won’t let this one “off day” ruin my coming in again and giving them a try.
WHO: Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar, Delray Beach’s season-forward, farm-to-table eatery and wine bar owned by the Dave Magrogan Group, announces their new fall menu featuring an assortment of seasonal dishes, refreshing cocktails and over 50 wines available by the glass now available through the fall season.
WHAT: As the season’s change, you can always look forward to a bountiful new menu at Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar. The fall menu features dishes that use local, seasonal ingredients resulting in the freshest, tastiest, most nutritious meals possible in a celebration of autumnal produce.
Enjoy flavorful new flatbreads, salads, entrees and more – with plenty of gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options available. Fall menu highlights include:
Today’s post is a two-for, featuring both a wonderful new hostel/boutique hotel and restaurant we were introduced to right in the heart of South Beach. Founded in 2011, Generator, a London-based brand known for their trendy design-forward European Hostels that feel more like boutique hotels, has just opened its first US location in Miami Beach this past August on famed Collins Ave, just one block from the beach. Generator, remodelled from a 1940’s condo building, offers 300 beds in 105 rooms. One of the unique things about this hostel is that in addition to the traditional shared rooms (which start at $20 per bed per night), is the addition of private rooms that start at just $95/night. Generator is not the hostel you might have stayed at while travelling around Europe (probably in your early twenties). They have pulled out all the stops to create a sense of community, incorporating such amenities as an inviting pool, 2 on-site restaurants, beautifully designed shared and private rooms and several really unique common spaces for guests to interact with one another or just take in the serene environment that’s been created for the solo traveler to enjoy on their own – not to mention the awesome location, right in the heart of South Beach. Several activities are being offered at Generator including yoga, mixology demonstrations, movies, a pool table, DJs and more planned.
I was invited by Desirey, the Event Sales Manager and my lovely host for the afternoon who arranged a tour of the hostel/hotel and a lovely lunch for us at Driftway, one of the two restaurants found on the property. As we made our way past the pool heading towards Driftway, I couldn’t help but notice this amazing mural painted on the side of the building. It had been painted by South African artist Chris Aurett. The food & beverage operations are being overseen by Gui Jaroschy, whose impressive resume includes opening the Broken Shaker in Miami Beach as well as several other locations in Chicago, Los Angeles and New York; managing the Anderson in Miami’s Upper Eastside; and consulting on cocktail menus for Ricochet Lounge, Drunken Dragon and British Airways.
Alex, our Driftway guy let me sample all four of their frozen drinks; the Suze and Coke, OMFG Margarita, Bird of Paradise and the Friesling. I enjoyed them all, but my favorite was the Bird of Paradise which was made with Beefeater Dry Gin, Chinola Passionfruit Liqueur, Martini Bitter and J Wray Rum, allspice and cubeb pepper.
The food and frozen drinks were amazing, as was the ambience and the company. I am looking forward to planning my next Staycation right there at my new favorite place on South Beach.
If you are planning a trip to Miami Beach and are looking for things to do in the area, you might want to consider booking a Savor Our City tour. Private tours are offered for a minimum of 2 guests and groups of up to 50 people. Choose from South Beach, Wynwood, Little Havana, Miami Springs, Doral and Brickell. For more info on tours, contact Savor Our City.
I feel like another confessional coming on: Forgive me for its been way too long since my last post. Life just has a habit of sometimes getting in the way of keeping my writings as current as I’d like them to be. But I promise, as always, to deliver you our latest Food Finds (new restaurant openings, menu updates, food & wine festivals, charity galas, product reviews and recipes, and destination travel).
Today’s post is on The Venu (www.TheLocalVenu.com), an upscale and intimate restaurant, bar & entertainment destination that recently opened in Boynton Beach, FL. Open daily from 11am – 3am, offering lunch, brunch (Sundays 11am – 3pm) Happy Hour starting at 4pm and dinner featuring live music throughout the week and every weekend. You can find a complete schedule of all their shows and ticket info on their website and facebook pages. The Venu is outfitted with a 200″ projector screen and a 22′ X 20′ stage and showroom, along with a state-of-the-art sound and light system. Expect to see talent from all over the world playing on this stage, representing every genre from funk and soul to rock, reggae, DJs, comedy, Broadway acts and more.
The Venu has brought on Executive Chef Kelley Randall (previously head chef at Vic & Angelo’s and The Office in Delray Beach) to run the kitchen. He is a highly regarded and well-known master of inspired farm-fresh cuisine who incorporates locally sourced ingredients to create imaginative menus for lunch, brunch dinner and showtime. All pastas and desserts are crafted in-house daily and all dishes are prepared from the scratch kitchen. Chef Kelley’s take on Italian and modern European fare is highlighted by such signature dishes as the Wild Boar Pappardelle, Frutti Di Mare, Coq Au Vin, 1855 Ranch Ribeye, Stuffed Portabella Mushroom, Waygu Beef Carpaccio, Grilled Octopus, PEI Mussels Provencal and much more including daily specials.
I had the great pleasure of trying several of these and other signature dishes at a recent Media event.
The preset menu was divided into sections: Under “Let’s Begin”, we sampled the Wagyu Beef Carpaccio and the Meatballs Al Forno.
Every well thought out component came together to create a harmonious dish. The Wagyu beef just melts in your mouth and the fried caper aioli provides an added layer of umami. By the way, in case you didn’t know what grissini was when you were reading my description up above, do not fret; I didn’t either, so I looked it up and here’s what it is: breadsticks, lol! Thin crispy Italian breadsticks.
It wasn’t but a few months ago that I tried bison for the first time on one of our tours in Sanford where I had the most delicious bison burger at The Smiling Bison. So I was super excited to see this meatball at The Venu contained bison in their mixture. The meatballs were delicious there’s no doubt about that, although I don’t know that I could really detect the bison.
Moving on to the next section, under “Greens” we got to try their Pear & Cream and House Crafted Pasta.
This whimsical salad was filled with my all time favorite cheeses, the burrata. I swear, if you’re anything like me, once you try burrata, it’s hard to go back to regular ol’ mozzarella. It is the king of all mozzarellas in my humble opinion. Anyway, I must say this dish was creatively assembled; never before had I seen poached pear served with burrata. Each of the items on the dish was treated with finesse while the balsamic drizzle brought them all together harmoniously.
My favorite dish of the evening was this wild boar pappardelle. From the moment it was placed in front of me, the waft of orange zest made it’s way up the olfactory, tingling and tantalizing my tastebuds beckoning me to consume my first bite. O-M-G! The boar was so tender and flavorful and the pappardelle was cooked to perfection. The saltiness from the feta was a unique and welcome addition as well. You must try this dish.
Innovative and tasty cocktails were served thoughout the night…
Under the “Paramount” section, we were given the Seared Sea Scallops and Chicken Francaise to try.
Did you know that summer carrots are sweeter than fall carrots? Neither did I. I learned this fun little fact from Chef Kelley when he introduced the dish. The sweet carrot puree was a terrific choice to accompany the perfectly cooked scallops.
This dish was rich and contained all of the key components of a classic Chicken Francaise plus some original nuances such as the fried artichoke hearts, adding yet another flavorful dimension.
“To Finish” we had the tiramisu and a House Crafted Cookie Plate
The tiramisu served at The Venu was one of the most delicious tiramisu’s that I have ever had. Great job guys!
What a night, I tell ya. I hope I have given you some ideas on what you would like to try when you visit. When you do go, be sure to tell Chef Kelley that your friend Denise from Savor Our City sent ya.
The Venu is located at 8794 West Boynton Beach Blvd. Boynton Beach, FL 33472 561.200.0222
I was recently invited to dine at Tanzy’s, located inside the iPic Theaters in Mizner Park, to check out their new weekend brunch offerings. I’ve enjoyed a meal or two at Tanzy’s before but this was my first time experiencing their brunch. It was a Saturday (and who doesn’t like the idea of a leisurely Saturday brunch catching up with good friends?!?) and I was totally stoked to be able to bring my girlfriend who I hadn’t seen in a super long time to join me for this brunch tasting. With so many wonderful dining choices available in Mizner Park, you might forget that Tanzy is there unless of course, you are going inside the iPic Theaters to catch a movie. While Tanzy is a great dining option for your pre or post-movie experience, I am here to set the record straight that Tanzy should be on the top of your list for a wonderful meal to be enjoyed whether your plans include a movie or not. Case in point: the epic weekend brunch, happy hour bar bites, lunch and of course, dinner.
Tanzy’s artisanal Italian cuisine focuses on garden-fresh modern Italian flavors in an elegant, yet relaxed social environment where friends, family and colleagues can gather to enjoy good conversation, good food & creative cocktails. Tanzy’s new menu features fresh new classics alongside time-tested favorites by award-winning Chef and Chief Operating Officer of iPic Entertainment. Diners will delight in inspiring flavors where seasonal ingredients are the star in every dish, artfully prepared by melding contemporary techniques with classic Italian influences; the resulting flavor profiles are modern and unique. Master Bartender and Advanced Sommelier Adam Seger crafts an unparalleled beverage program with local beers, an expertly curated wine list and stunning farm-to-glass handcrafted cocktails.
We started off with a Bloody Mary and a Peach Bellini. Then our server Julia surprised us with this beauty. An Italian Ice Mimosa made with liquid nitrogen. Check out the baby spoon that came with it, so cute! Can you say “Wow” factor?!?
So we were off to a good start. Julia explained the menu to us and it was difficult I must say to choose because so many items caught my eye. The bread basket contained an assortment of baked items which offered a good variety, so we chose that. OMG, without exaggeration, my friend and I ate one bite of the banana nut muffin and our eyes truly bugged out. It was without a doubt the best banana nut muffin we both had ever eaten. Man, I am salivating just a little right now as I recall how scrumptious it was, lol!
Another really really fantastic item was the candied bacon. It had a slight amount of heat and the perfect amount of sweetness. Loved it! I have to give Tanzy kudos for this because try as I have, I cannot seem to perfect the art of making candied bacon.
The infamously decadent French Toast, pictured below on the left, lived up to its title. It was made from thick sliced brioche bread stuffed with whipped mascarpone and assorted fresh berries. It reminded me a little of the one they make at Tucker Dukes which I just adore, but better, in my humble opinion. We ordered the eggs benedict, which came with our choice of crispy prosciutto, spinach or smoked salmon. We chose the salmon. The rich velvety Hollandaise sauce covered the English muffin halves like a warm comforting blankie. Yum!
Next up was the burrata & San Daniele prosciutto which came with a compressed melon, arugula and adorned with beautiful fennel flowers. It was almost too pretty to eat (almost, haha)! The spinach-ricotta gnudi was calling out to us from an early glance at the menu, so we heeded the call and gave in. Oh my, this was so worth having to do extra laps and burpees the next day!
Well, we didn’t quite make it to the dessert tower, but there’s always the next time.
I encourage you to check out their new lunch and dinner menus on their website and make your plans to visit there at your earliest chance. You won’t be disappointed, I can pretty much say this with 100% confidence.
Below is a sample of some of the new menu items which include fresh pastas, mains and antipasti to share:
Beet Agnolottimascarpone-potato filling, poppy seed, black winter truffle, parmesan ($28)
For those of you who have been around Boca Raton for the past 10 years, you might say that there has been quite the revolving door when it comes to the dining scene. Take the south west corner of Federal Highway & SE Mizner Blvd. in Downtown Boca for instance. How many of you remember Oceans 11, Saba Sushi, Ovenella and the short-lived The Little Chalet? Who remembers anything before? Let me know by commenting at the bottom of the post. I took you back as far as I could recall, since first coming to the area and immersing myself into the food scene here in Boca.
The Little Chalet was a beautiful special-occasion venue that is wildly popular in Brazil, but for whatever reason, just didn’t catch on here in the company’s first US location. It’s a shame; they spent a small fortune I’m sure creating a lovely romantic ambiance. But, beautiful decor alone doesn’t pay the bills so the owners decided early on to cut their loss and close and re-open with an entirely new hip & trendy concept.
Created by Ricky Marcellini, owner of The Little Chalet who explained that after noting a change in the area’s demographics, they saw an opportunity to introduce South Floridians to a breezy, Brazilian nightlife-inspired restaurant and lounge for everyday dining. To facilitate a more communal and casual quality guest experience, he opened the space to an airier interior, expanding seating and adding a second bar to the outdoor patio.
“We have watched East Boca grow and change over the years, and we wanted to evolve our restaurant to match the tastes and lifestyles in the area, which is why we closed our doors as The Little Chalet and have reopened as The Locale,” explains Ricky. “Our culinary team is as skilled as ever, and we are excited to offer a more robust and unique beverage program to complement the quality dishes that come out of our kitchen.”
The hip and trendy The Locale Cocina & Bar presents guests with a Latin-inspired menu (South American influences including Brazil & Equador) and I would say Italian as well and is fast becoming the gathering spot in Downtown Boca for local friends and business associates. I’m sure it also helps to offer Happy Hour every day from 4 – 7pm and again from 9pm til closing. What’s more, is that guests can enjoy happy hour anywhere in the restaurant, not just the bar Sun – Thur (and at the bar only on Fri & Sat nights). There’s a reduced price food menu and all drinks are 1/2 off.
I was invited by The Locale’s PR firm to attend a media dine. They hosted a lovely event which several of my blogger friends attended, however, I was unable to attend at the time due to a lingering cold. I was thrilled to be invited back to experience the restaurant once I was well. On this dine, we started out a couple of their popular cocktails; I chose the Lychee Martini and my husband chose the Caipirinha, Brazil’s National cocktail. Lychees are my newest exotic fruit obsession, by the way.
The Locale’s Chef Joshua Miranda and team take pride in creatively melding exotic flavors with familiar applications in order to deploy flavorful creations to be shared. Locale’s Manager Carlos took the liberty of sending out a variety of dishes for us to try: a trio of appetizers consisting of pork & beef meatballs, mushroom crostini (called tostada on the menu) and tuna tartare were presented first. They were all delicious, but the star for me was the tuna tartare. The su vide preparation of the egg yolk was something that a true die hard foodie like myself would appreciate.
Carlos next sent out the Locale pizza which had fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, arugula and shaved Parmesan. Tip: took home leftovers and heated the pizza up and cracked a fresh egg on top to make a delicious breakfast pizza!
The Picarina steak had a beautiful sear on it and was seasoned and cooked perfectly and served with yuca fries.
There was a generous portion of shrimp in the Fettucini Alfredo dish. Also made a nice shrimp scampi crostini the next day with these leftovers!
The Locale boasts Boca’s only Mixology Bar. (I see a Savor Our City Mixology Class taking place there in the future)– The Locale provides libation seekers with two bars and ample seating. Inside, chocolate bitters, candied ginger and acai liqueur are at the ready behind the bar, shaken up into one-of-a-kind drinks that are as eye-catching as they are delicious. Moscow Mule drinkers can choose from four iterations of the copper-mugged classic, including a daily rotating option, in addition to cocktails like the Brazilian Rum Runner Fig Old Fashioned, Lychee Martini and Jalapeño Aquafaba. At the newly-expanded patio, The Locale’s outdoor bar is happy to shake up something on the more traditional side in addition to pouring South Florida’s coldest brew at an impressive 28°F from their special imported below-freezing brewery tap. With over 35 beers from 6 countries, the perfect sip is always within reach.
Other signature dishes on the menu that look really interesting which I will have to go back for are: Beef Empanada with shredded short ribs and tomato jam; Croqueta fried dough filled with ham and cheese; and Shrimp Ajillo garlic shrimp served with white rice and broccoli bring a taste of South America to the table. Vegetarians and carnivores alike will swoon over The Locale’s meat-free Portobello Burgerwith tamarind glaze, manchego, crispy kale, aioli on a brioche bun; and flavorful signature entrées abound, with highlights including Short Ribover manchego polenta; Faroe Island Salmonwith wild rice, asparagus, yogurt crema; and Bucatiniwith yellow chili sauce, onions and tomatoes and choice of sautéed filet or chicken.
The Locale’s Happy Hour is served every day from 4-7p.m. and 9p.m.-close, where guests can enjoy even more brews, beats and bespoke cocktails from anywhere in the restaurant.
The Locale is located at 499 S Federal Hwy, Boca Raton, FL 33432, They are open for dinner Sun. – Thurs. 4 – 11p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 4p.m. – 1 a.m. and brunch on Sundays fro 10:30am – 2pm. For more information or to make a reservation, call (561) 325-8000 or visit www.localeboca.com.
They say to find unknown treasures, you have to leave the beaten path. In Boca Raton, areas like Mizner Park and Royal Palm Place are downtrodden with first-time visitors to our sea-kissed town. Yet, it’s a little spot just south of city central where you can find a foodie experience truly delectable and adventurous in Saiko-i Sushi Lounge & Hibachi.
Saiko-i (pronounced sigh-koi-ee) Sushi Lounge & Hibachi is the creation of husband and wife team, Jason Zheng & Tina Wang. A 7,000 sq.ft. – formerly home to the local favorite nightclub, Gatsby’s – offers guests a selection of dining experiences. For casual affairs and networking events, sit in the outdoor courtyard or spacious bar. To be entertained, 11 hibachi tables wait to amuse, as well as an open exhibition sushi bar. But if an intimate dinner for two is on the menu, a romantic row of private booths amongst hand-selected artworks can accommodate.
I had the honor of experiencing Saiko-i with a number of other bloggers, writers, and foodies for the restaurant’s media night. While familiar with the Zheng & Wang’s first Boca restaurant, Yakitori Sake House, I wasn’t aware of Saiko-i. I pulled into an unassuming shopping center on Military and SW 18th St. – shared with an Outback Steakhouse nonetheless – questioning whether or not I was in the right place. Yet, as soon as I walked in the doors, I was swept into another locale altogether.
Upon entering, I paid quick homage to a 10-foot tall Buddha before being whisked to my table. A rich color template and delicate tapestries with fine detail adorn the interior of the entire restaurant. No detail was left to chance.
The night began with Saiko-i’s signature cocktail, the lychee martini. Made with fresh lychee juice, it was a martini perfect for those looking for a crisp drink with just a hint of sweetness. Also offered were Japanese beers and whiskeys alongside the usual American counterparts.
First order of the night delivered the salmon carpaccio. I smelled this dish before I even saw it, something I can’t ever recall saying about a raw carpaccio. The truffle oil and fried garlic scents made my stomach rumble with anticipation. Saiko-i attains fresh sushi-grade fish daily, hailing from both Florida local fisheries and Japan alike. I make no exaggeration when I say the carpaccio melted on my tongue.
Next was the roasted duck wrap, a mix of tender duck and savory spices wrapped in a lightly-fried, crisp Singapore flatbread – perfectly offset by a mango sauce and balsamic glaze.
By the end of the duck, I had sipped through my lychee martini and mixed it up with a selection of Japanese whiskeys, settling on the Suntory 10 year and Hibiki 12 year. Rounds of appetizers kept appearing. Dumpling-ilke Spicy Tuna Gyoza, a crunchy UFO Roll and the refreshing fresh fish medley that is the Sexy Lady Roll.
Being a fan of curries, I had to try Saiko-i’s red curry with scallops for my main dish. I asked for a bit more kick and the chefs behind the scenes got it just right. The portion was easily enough for two and I was glad to have lunch for the next day.
Despite being stuffed with the night’s appetizing creations, the team at Saiko-i wasn’t done with us yet. They had one more surprise. We had a birthday in the group and before we knew it a panda bear came to our table with a plate full of mochi – the perfect ending to an enchanting evening.
Today’s Boca Food Find is Square One or SQ1 for short. Previously home to Brewzzi’s Restaurant, Square One’s central location on Glades Road, just west of 95 in the Glades Plaza underwent a $1 million renovation buildout of the over-6,000-square-foot space to create a stunning upscale-casual dining experience suitable for a variety of dining occasions.
SQ1’s co-founders and best friends Eric Clark and Chef Jon Greening bring more than 30 years of combined industry expertise to the restaurant, utilizing their combined knowledge to provide a uniquely guest-driven dining experience. The restaurant came to fruition during a fateful meeting between the two, realizing they would literally be starting at “square one” to turn their dream of opening a unique yet approachable restaurant into a reality. “After working in and opening restaurants from Washington, D.C., to the Pacific Northwest, Jon and I are excited to refresh the Boca executive dining scene while offering incredible value to all of our guests,” says owner Eric Clark. “We want Square One to be a restaurant that people visit multiple times per week for lunch, dinner, happy hour or brunch – we pride ourselves on delivering an exceptional experience across the board.”
With Chef Jon at the helm of Square One’s kitchen, the restaurant rotates their culinary offerings seasonally featuring locally-sourced ingredients that highlight diverse flavor combinations at a friendly price point. The diverse menu is also complemented by an expert-curated wine list and mixology program. Offerings range from shared plates to brick oven pizza fired to order, to fresh fish and dry aged steaks, and a rotating menu of weekly lunch specials. Chef Jon’s menu items are chosen for flavor prominence, locally-available ingredients and approachability, while the reimagined restaurant space – brought to life by Eric’s vision – presents an open and inviting setting complemented by similarly cheerful staff.
I was recently invited to dine at SQ1 by the restaurant’s PR firm. We had a lovely dining experience which started off with some cool cocktails followed by the Brick Oven Brussels Sprouts that Eric himself recommended. They did not disappoint. I have to say that ever since Brussels became an “in” thing, I am amazed at how much I am digging them. What I thought was unique about SQ1’s version is their sweet n sour glaze and the use of cashews and cilantro. It also comes with pancetta which I love, but if you do not eat meat, I’m sure they will leave them out if you request it.
For our entrees, we tried the Red Wine Braised Short Rib served with mashed Yukon Gold Potato, Baby Carrots, English Peas and Veau Jus. It was so tender and juicy. To me, it was elevated comfort food that hugged me from the inside with each new bite! The other entree was the Slow Braised Beef Ragu served on house-made pappardelle with caramelized fennel, cherry tomato confit, ricotta and basil. The flavors were terrific, although the pasta was a little too al dente for my personal preference. For dessert, we had a tough decision since there were several great choices. We were extremely pleased with our selection of the classic creme brule.
An indoor-outdoor bar provides ample space for drinking, dining and working – outfitted with electrical outlets, USB ports and a WiFi booster to facilitate connectivity. Two brick ovens flank the main kitchen, which are responsible for the flavorful char on every pizza ordered, and have been burning 24 hours a day since the building’s opening in 1997. Executives, families and networking groups will find a number of options to facilitate private dining, meetings or celebrations from a central open elevated dining room to a completely-enclosed glass room outfitted with technical capabilities, custom wood conference table and chic velvet seating.
Complementing the culinary menus is an expertly-curated wine list features wines by the bottle and by the glass at various price points, as well as a roster of craft beers and inspired mixology program.
Square One has additionally partnered with Vero Bottled Water Purification Systems
throughout the restaurant, which uses reverse osmosis filtration for a superior sip while contributing directly to the Whole World Water Charity in support of international clean waters.
Now open for lunch, dinner, happy hour and Sunday brunch, Square One is located in Glades Plaza at 2222 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431. Hours are Mon. – Thurs. 11:30a.m. – 10p.m.; Fri. & Sat. 11:30a.m. – 11p.m.; Sun. 11a.m. – 10p.m.
I am excited to share with you part one of a two-part series on my experience at the Marriott on Singer Island. I had been invited by the property’s PR firm for quite some time now to come experience a meal at their signature restaurant, 3800 Ocean and I finally was able to make that happen. Let me tell you, it is well worth the 45-minute drive it took us from South East Boca. Speaking for myself and I’m guessing that many of you might fall into this category as well, when it comes to deciding on where to dine, hotel restaurants may not be on the forefront of your mind with the multitude of choices that abound. Well, I’m here to set the record straight and possibly get you to rethink this notion forever more. 3800 Ocean at the Marriott Singer Island is as good as it gets and shouldn’t just be enjoyed by visiting guests, but by us local foodies as well.
The Marriott Singer Island has several dining experiences available:
3800 Ocean: Ocean views share the spotlight with South Florida’s abundant harvest at the resort’s signature restaurant. The 3800 Ocean menu reflects a “collective kitchen” inspired by the cultural backgrounds of each of its chefs – from New England and Long Island to Mexico and Jamaica – who bring their own personal influences to a rich bounty of local seafood and produce. Complementing the menu is an extensive wine list. Elegant interiors and an expansive covered patio give guests a choice of dining environments. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Kitchen Table: This one-of-a-kind experience, for groups of no more than five, takes diners with adventurous palates into the 3800 Ocean kitchen for a five-course menu created on the spot by the executive chef. The dinner typically spans three hours and is priced at $69 per person, with cocktail and wine pairings on request. Available Thursday through Saturday evenings; reservations required a minimum 24 hours in advance.
3800 Ocean Lounge: An inviting gathering spot for guests and locals, the lounge serves a casual lunch menu daily, exotic cocktails and bar fare every evening, and happy hour Monday through Friday.
Reef Tiki Bar: A casual menu of Pacific Rim cuisine is offered on the beach, complemented by cocktails handmade with fresh juices. The resort’s signature Coconut Island Breeze is served here in a fresh cracked coconut and is a popular choice at the bar’s Bubbles on the Beach happy hour. Open for lunch and happy hour daily.
Lagoon Cantina: Fresh-made margaritas, Mexican specialties and grilled fare are the draw at this poolside, Caribbean-style cantina. Open for lunch to resort guests and spa members/guests only.
Ocean Breeze Café: Starbucks drinks, pastries, salads and wraps are served to guests seeking a quick bite on the go.
In case you’re not familiar with Singer Island, it’s a peninsula (barrier island) on the Atlantic coast of Palm Beach County, Florida, in the South Florida metropolitan area. Most of it is in the city of Riviera Beach, but the town of Palm Beach Shores occupies its southern tip. The Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa is Palm Beach County’s only all-suite beachfront hotel, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Intracoastal Waterway on the other, it offers a wealth of opportunities for adventures on land and sea.
3800 Ocean has a VERY extensive & impressive wine list along with a whole lot of hand crafted cocktails and bourbons to choose from. For starters, we tried the seafood ceviche and the tostones rellenos. Both were superb dishes. I could have stopped right there (along with the glass of New Zealand Sauv Blanc) and had been a happy camper, but wait…there’s more…
Even though I was already quite stuffed, I just had to make room for what has to be one of the most creative desserts I have ever had. The S’mores pot de creme. Take a look at this beauty! House Made Marshmallow, Graham Shortbread, Chocolate Pot De Crème, Biscoff Malto (OMG, Yum!!!)
After lunch, we were given a tour of the property which we really appreciated. The grounds are gorgeous and although non hotel guests are invited to dine at 3800 Ocean, you must be staying at the property in order to access these other areas:
Later this summer I will be coming back to stay overnight in order to fully immerse myself into all the amenities that this lovely beachfront property has to offer. Stay tuned for part two of this feature highlighting this hot staycation destination.