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EatBeat: Chef Allen Susser Opens Taste Gastropub in Delray Beach

April 15th, 2010 · No Comments

Miami's Chef Allen Susser ventures north into Delray Beach

Is it a Miami migration? Chefs from Miami are suddenly looking anew at Palm Beach County as fertile ground. The latest is Chef Allen Susser, of Chef Allen’s in Aventura – a 24-year-old fish-forward spot that’s earned a number of accolades over the years.

Susser pinpointed Pineapple Grove in Delray Beach, a strolling neighborhood area on Second Avenue, that runs north of the buzzy Atlantic Ave. Over the years, Pineapple Grove has developed into a tree-lined street of shops, eateries and condos that are more laid-back and casual than the flashier Atlantic.

Area ‘Meant for a gastropub’

Susser is from Brooklyn, where there are real neighborhoods where people walk and shop and stop to eat. He knew, he said, it was meant for a gastropub.

“I like Delray,” he said. “It has a great small community feel to it; that’s really appealing to me.” The gastropub concept – a public house or tavern, but with uncommonly good food – is meant for neighborhood areas, he said.

“I’m glad it’s on a side street.” It’s calmer and the pressure to hurry up and eat is less, he said.

Familiar, comfort foods

The menu is all about comfort foods – or more accurately, foods that people recognize, but in a different setting.  “We have a pot pie – but it’s a duck pot pie. The mac ‘n cheese is lobster mac ‘n cheese…pot roast is beef bourguignon.”

A ham and cheese turns out to be croquettes, and a grilled cheese with soup d’jour is basically a croque monsieur with Gruyere. His idea of poppers are chorizo-stuffed pequillo peppers with sheep’s milk cheese; these are bar snacks along with hot potato chips with his take on an onion dip made from caramelized onions, garlic and chives.

Cold cuts and tapas

The variety is substantial: proscuitto, spec, Serrano ham, pork belly are on the Charcuterie list. From the raw side, there are oysters, tuna tartare in sesame cones, hamachi, shrimp ceviche (dressed with grapefruit, gin and corn nuts), and house-cured salmon with pickled cukes.

A peeky-toe crabcake ‘Po Boy’ sits next to the seared foie gras brioche sandwich and Wagyu kobe “sliders” – then the menu swings to the hot foods: diver scallops with bean and ham hock stew; seared snapper with a white ean puree and Tuscan salsa veerde; skirt steak with roquefort butter and herb frites.

He does fries a zillion ways – such as malted, triple-cooked, herbed, and in the “Tator(sic) tots” with pork and cheese.

Daily braise

The ultimate comfort foods- slow cooked stuff like a stout braised beef brisket,  Julia Child’s beef bourguignon, and a 72-hour sous vide short rib, and coq au vin for non-red meaters, are set up smartly as half or full orders.

Candy bar for real

The special dessert bar continues the comfort, homey feel of another era – look for the jars of jelly beans, Mary Janes and other candies. There’s old-fashioned chocolate pudding and Key lime pie. But look at that sweets menu where he gets serious about playing: Almond Joy bars, or the candy bar of the day all made in house. Hot lips organic soda float of the day and chocolate peanut butter bread pudding with espresso sauce will likely justify a late-night stop.

Prices “approachable”

Susser said he wants to attract diners who want to come in with friends and knock back a craft beer and share some small plates. Prices top out at $24; most are in the $5 to $15 range. There are 125 seats in the pub, plus an outside backyard garden. For now, it’s dinner only with lunch and weekend brunches in the works, as well as late-night hospitalty menus for those “in the biz.”

Taste Gastropub

  • 169 N.E. Second Ave., Delray Beach
  • Phone:  561-274-4444; www.tastegastropub.com
  • Open: Dinner only at present; lunch, late night and weekend brunch are planned.

Tags: The Eat Beat: Restaurant News

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