A sign that maybe the economy is building here: Several new restaurants are opening and giving it a go in Palm Beach County.
The Cooper Opens in PGA Commons
The Cooper Kitchen and Bar, from the Max Restaurant Group of Massachusetts (no relation to local restaurateur Dennis Max) – opened last month. In The Commons on PGA Boulevard in the former location of Spoto’s Water Bar, it brings the farm-to-table concept to Palm Beach Gardens.
Palm Beach Gardens resident and owner Richard Rosenthal says the food is, “well prepared, not too fussy and centered on ingredients from local farms when possible.”
Items change frequently, based on what’s in season. Chef Adam Brown explains that Florida farms are slow now, so they must source elsewhere, but still look for quality.
There’s a mix of small sharing plates like stuffed peppadew peppers, cheese and salumi plates, queso fundido with chorizo, and beer-braised mussels.
A popular menu item is the charcuterie plate – salumi and cheeses with olives, etc. Beer-braised mussels, steak tartare, a watermelon salad, daily soups and several steaks and chops are on the limited menu. It’s a tight menu to control quality, Rosenthal said, but with enough to please groups who come in and want different items around the table.
The Farmer’s Market Vegetable Palette features a mix of fresh, seasonal vegetables in a “stack,” and an ancient grains veggie burger with farro, quinoa and vegetables are aimed at vegetarians. Another dish that’s become a house specialty is Jerry’s Meatloaf – bacon wrapped meatloaf with cheddar-mashed potatoes, served with ancho chile barbecue sauce. It’s from a recipe devised by Rosenthal’s father-in-law.
Fresh Florida snapper, porcini-dusted diver scallops, cioppino, a double-cut pork chop, and chicken paillard give meat and fish lovers other options.
The new restaurant’s design features an open kitchen, with indoor and outdoor bars, with lounge areas outdoors along with tables. The restaurant just added a lunch service; it’s now open daily for lunch and dinner.
The Cooper, 4160 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561-622-0032; thecooperrestaurant.com
M.E.A.T. Boca Comes up from the Keys
Chef George Patti brings his successful M.E.A.T. (Meat Eatery and Taproom) from Islamorada to Boca Raton with an expanded menu.
The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner in an office building south of Glades Road on U.S. 1. – tricky to find, but easy to enter from the back parking lot. If you smell smoke, it’s the wood smoker not far from the door.
Despite its name and reputation for serious burgers, pulled chicken, braised pork belly, housemade sausages (brats, the day we were there), cured and smoked meats, vegetarian foods are on the menu. Salads, sides and wraps that are meatless are served and can be created – just ask.
Chef-made hummus, pickles, condiments (mustard made with carraway seeds and beer, e.g.), pate, slaws and salads are paired with an array of craft beers and small-batch sodas. Twists on the standards – hand-crafted milkshakes (the Nutella is most popular) and housemade pork rinds at and duck-fat fries that are standard elevate this from being just another burger joint.
Patti, a native of New Rochelle, N.Y., worked part time in his dad’s deli – it’s where he got his start making sausages, brining and smoking briskets and making porchetta. He says he’ll put those skills to use making pastrami here as he has in the first M.E.A.T. – at mile marker 88 in the Keys.
Farther south in Islamorada, at mile marker 82.7 is SALT Fusion Cuisine – Patti’s modern restaurant and upstairs bar with Cana lounge in the old Bentley’s space. “They were ready to get out,” he says of the former owners.
He’s partnered in Boca once more with Tom Smith, sommelier, who also is involved in the Keys’ restaurants. The two were partnered in the acclaimed Tasters Grill, also in Islamorada, before selling last year.
M.E.A.T. Boca, 980 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton (in the rear lobby); 561-419-2600; meateateryboca.com
Gene Playter returns with Beer Trade Co. in Delray
Gene Playter, co-owner of the former Gratify gastropub in downtown West Palm Beach, has created a new concept in Delray Beach after efforts to relocate Gratify failed. The Beer Trade Co. Cafe and Beer Lounge went into the Crepes by the Sea location in downtown Delray Beach.
“It’s considered the culinary capital of Palm Beach County,” Playter said. “I’m a fan of the city and used to live there.”
To put together the beer-centric bottle store with food, he traveled to Seattle, Louisiana, Maryland, Chicago and North Carolina. It was in North Carolina he came across the bottle stores.
“I liked the vibe – they are a very cool, neat concept; a community thing that was going on. But their model wouldn’t work in Florida – they’re too close to what the convenience store is. You walk in and help yourself to what you want. We’d have to tweak it for here. I wanted it to have some concept with food. But not make it a high-end feel, and appeal to the Florida market,” he said.
Beer Trade Co. has a full menu and a carryout license. There are several around – including in Miami. His is different – especially the foods, he said, with many of the small-plate recipes brought from Gratify. “It’s a mixed bag – mac ‘n’ cheese, tacos, hummus with toppings – all made from scratch. We have a market-price (daily) grilled cheese. Chicken fingers with smoked bacon and cheddar sauce. Foods that are beer-friendly.”
Prices are reasonable. “People aren’t going to pay what they do at a restaurant,” he said. “But we don’t have bartenders, or full service servers. Without that cost, I can pass savings to the customer.”
The 30-seat spot operates on an honor system. “The customers who haven’t been before are caught off guard. They come in and grab their own beer – and we trust them to come on up and pay.”
It’s a non-judgmental beer store, he said. “One thing I hear from every single person who walks in: they like it that there’s no pressure. You go to a beer-focused place and expect to be pressured. Here, if you want a Porter by Stone, I’m cool with that.” A selection of beers and wines by the glass or bottle changes and is aimed to please all tastes. “We have way more strange stuff – more unique beers than the regular stuff. If a consumer or guest comes in more than twice a week, we have something different on hand. If not, we’re not doing our job. We don’t put beer suggestions on the menu, but it’s a very small staff – just me, my partner and the chef. The biggest part of our role is interaction with the guests. Our best question is ‘What kind of beer do you normally drink?’ We make suggestions – if asked – from there.”
Once up and running, Playter plans to open several more of these. They’re open Sunday through Saturdays, closed Mondays. Happy hours are 5-7 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays, and 3-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Beer Trade Co. Café & Beer Lounge, 145 N.E. Fourth Ave., Delray Beach; 561-808-7304, facebook.com/BeerTradeCo
Hog Snappers Opens in North Palm Beach
A long-time favorite in Tequesta, Hog Snappers Shack and Sushi has a second location in North Palm Beach on U.S. 1 in the former Mondo’s space. Owners Arthur Rivaldo and Melanie Vazquez also have plans for a third one in Stuart.
The seafood grill offers an extensive menu, including a broad sushi and sashimi list; fresh fish – including a signature whole fried snapper; and a wide variety of salads and unusual soups such as oxtail, stone crab chowder, and goat stew.
Burgers, tacos, sandwiches and wraps along with large-portion appetizers round out the menu.
The interior has been decorated with an indoor tiki hut motif, similar to the Tequesta location, with a full bar. It’s open for lunch and dinner, daily.
Hog Snappers, 713 N. U.S. 1, North Palm Beach; (800) 335-4647; hogsnappersshackandsushi.com
Suri Tapas Bar brings small plates to Lake Worth
Replacing the former Fiorentina spot on Lake Avenue, Suri Tapas Bar moved into Lake Worth at the end of June bringing small plates and an eclectic lounge. They describe their menu as “Alternative American.”
House-designed cocktails and organic foods are on the lists – some from their rooftop herb garden.
The menu features a wide range of flavors and cuisine hits, including flatbreads, main-dish salads, ceviche, a chickpea and mushroom burger, Angus beef burger, chicken and a biscuit, stuffed squash blossoms, tacos, and sharing plates of lasagna, meatloaf, citron salmon and others from a variety of international cuisines.
Dishes are designed either for sharing or as small-plate individual meals.
The restaurant is open Tuesday through Sunday from 4 p.m.; reservations accepted.
Suri Tapas Bar, 707 Lake Ave., Lake Worth; 561-249-7436; facebook.com/surirestaurant.wordpress.com
U-Tiki Beach moves in next door to Jetty’s
U-Tiki Beach is the new family-oriented sister restaurant to Jim Taube’s Jetty’s restaurant on the Jupiter waterway.
Overlooking the inlet and lighthouse, the casual seafooder has a Key Westy, beachy atmosphere.
Lobster rolls, an oyster bar, cracked conch, shrimp, burgers, wings, Caribbean bowls and local fish are on the menu, along with the full bar.
Some will recognize these menu items from other restaurants owned by Taube, including Kee Grill and C’oolah Fish Bar.
Boat docks are available for those who come by the waterway. Open daily from 4 p.m.
U-Tiki Beach, 1095 Alt A1A, Jupiter; 561-406-2210; facebook.com/utikibeach
Coming or planned
The Brass Tap is scheduled to open next week at 950 N. Congress Avenue in Boynton Beach, in the former Shane’s Rib Shack. The rapidly expanding chain from Tampa features a 300-tap beer selection, food service and live music. (brasstap.com)
Chowder Heads, the second of Ed Well’s New England seafood restaurants featuring lobster rolls, clams, and chowders from the Northeast, will open in the next two weeks at 1900 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. (chowderheadsusa.com). His original location is in Jupiter on U.S. 1 in the Driftwood Plaza.
In the fall or early winter, the Okeechobee Steakhouse plans to open a seafood restaurant, reminiscent of New Orleans’ style restaurants, in a lot behind the current steakhouse in West Palm Beach on Okeechobee Boulevard.
Visitors said good-bye this weekend to the local landmark Tiki bar – formally, the Tiki Waterfront Grille in Riviera Beach.
The Tiki was a favorite of locals and tourists alike, with a view of the Riviera Beach Marina and Peanut Island beyond. Live music and Sunday brunches made it a popular spot for after-work and weekend gatherings.
The Tiki is being demolished, along with other buildings on the site to make way for the multi-million project to bring shops, restaurants and entertainment space to the waterfront.
Talk of reopening the Tiki as part of the extensive complex, planned in several phases, is speculative.
Bubba Gump Fish Co. in Jupiter has closed. The waterfront restaurant was part of the Landry chain of seafood concept restaurants based in Houston, Texas.
Bizarre Avenue Cafe in Lake Worth has closed.