Things sure are becoming fishy in northern Palm Beach County. With the new Russell’s Blue Water Grill and Charlie Coe at the helm, Roy Villacrusis’s inspired sushi and Asian dishes at Kubo, and James King over at Verdea doing sea and farm-to-table dishes, there are plenty of reasons to seek out seafood here.
Fin fans have yet another option now at 3800 Ocean, a restaurant inside the Palm Beach Marriott on Singer Island. Chef Dean Max of 3030 Ocean in Fort Lauderdale was offered this restaurant as well. He in turn hired Larry Lavalley, a longtime South Florida chef who not only executes Max’s foods but adds plenty of ideas on his own.
“I love working for Dean. He’s probably one of the best chefs I’ve ever worked with. He’s very creative and focused. We think alike,” Lavalley said.
Dean is confident in him, too. “Larry is a super professional chef. He shares the same passion as I do and manages his staff with the same focused vision and friendly and helpful demeanor. It’s easy for us to see eye to eye; we have very similar styles.”
Some of the menu items carry up here from 3030, Max said, though not all. The raw bar that’s very popular there is here. We can recommend the coconut ceviche (chef Max shared that recipe with me – see below) as being one of the most flavorful we’ve had lately.
Max is a champion of local, fresh ingredients and has traveled around the state (and other parts of the country) to visit food producers, including the pork rancher in mid Florida, Palmetto Creek Ranch and chicken farmers and beef ranchers. He’s a big booster of fresh Zellwood corn – his curry corn soup with shrimp made from it is a standout, but it rarely appears on the menu. “That corn has a short season and once it’s gone, it’s gone. I go crazy using it when it’s here, though – it’s so sweet!”
He stresses that despite the push for local foods, if it comes down to a choice between buying locally or getting quality, then quality wins. If the corn isn’t great in Florida, he either takes it off the menu items, or gets it from another grower where it’s fresh in season.
It’s a balancing act with a bigger picture. “I do have to think about my carbon footprint, but I have to please my diners, and the accountants. Sure we want to support local growers and the economy, but pleasing our guests and bringing them back to the hotel helps the economy, too – and gives jobs to people right here.”
“We use Swank Produce for a lot of our vegetables and Green Cay Farms in Boynton. They’re just amazing when they’re fresh – there’s no comparison. White Water clams from Sebastian are local, and Florida snapper, shrimp and of course stone crabs in season. But I really stress quality, too. Florida’s growing season is fall and winter, so what we can get locally kind of slows down now, and I have to look at some other areas for some of our foods.
“Florida has scallops, for instance, but they’re a recreational shellfish. I’ve dug for them on the other coast,” he said. “So I get mine from Rosemary Ingrid, who has individual divers get them – the diver’s name is actually on the bag.”
There is wild salmon from the Pacific on the menu – obviously not from Florida. The hotel guests mean his audience is broader than that of a local stand-alone restaurant, he said. Exotic mushrooms that don’t grow in Florida also make it onto meat dishes. “You can’t get that flavor from other mushrooms, so I use hand-foraged ones.”
A Caribbean flair
Max brings his experience from Florida (he grew up in Stuart) and a restaurant in the Caribbean to the plate. Kabocha pumpkin, yuca, many of the peppers from the islands work their way into his dishes.
“These fit right into Florida,” he said. While seafood lovers have a lot of choices, those wanting pasta, beef, chicken or pork will find options here, too.
Prices are moderate to expensive.
- In the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Resort and Spa
- 3800 N. Ocean Blvd., Singer Island, Riviera Beach
- (561) 340-1795
3800 Ocean’s Ahi Tuna Coconut Cerviche
- 1 pound Sushi grade ahi tuna (blood line removed)
Trim and cut tuna into smaller workable portions. Slice tuna into thin strips and small dice.
For the coconut sauce:
- 3 ripe coconuts
- 1 serrano pepper
- 2 tablespoons ginger
- 1 can coconut milk (unsweetened)
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- ¼ cup sugar
Drain coconut milk from coconuts into a large saucepot. (pierce eyes with skewer or screwdriver).
Dice the peppers (keep seeds in for extra heat if desired) and ginger. Add to the pot with the coconut water, coconut milk, fish sauce and sugar. Bring to a boil and immediately turn down to a low simmer for about 10-15 min. Take off the stove and let sauce completely cool. Strain and refrigerate.
- 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 serrano pepper, seeds removed
- 1 bunch green onions
- 1 red bell pepper
Chop the cilantro; thinly slice the bell pepper and Serrano peppers. Slice the green onions and combine all the ingredients together.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- juice of 1 lime
- Toasted coconut or grated, fried yuca root
In a bowl, put the diced tuna, ceviche mix and coconut sauce. Mix well and season with salt, pepper and squeeze of fresh lime juice. Sprinkle with toasted coconut or fried cassava.
Serve in reserved coconut shells set over ice.