Jan Norris: Food and Florida

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EatBeat: Old Favorites Reappear – Sara’s Kitchen and Q’Ban Pot

December 3rd, 2009 · 3 Comments

Grandma Sara’s is back

If you remember Grandma Sara’s on Old Dixie Highway next to Good Samaritan Hospital, you’ll remember some seriously fluffy pancakes.

Those are back — along with a menu that is simply terrific for breakfast (all day – yay!) and lunch at her new spot at the old Murphy’s in Palm Beach Gardens.

We went recently, and I got the Carlos Fitness Omelet ($8.95) that was as big as my head. Light, puffy and filled with mushrooms, spinach, broccoli and provolone cheese – “Wow!” is all I could say.

Don’t want to meet this chicken up close

My partner looked at it and laughed. “That’s a six- or eight-egg omelet!” They say three, but I’d like to see from a distance those mega-chickens that laid those eggs.

It comes with a choice of biscuit, buttermilk pancakes or toast — I opted for the pancakes since they boasted they are the “World’s Best Pancakes.” They were darn good – only some homemade ones from my aunt are better – subjective opinion.  Real maple syrup served with them, warmed, is a plus – kudos to them for this.

Too much food

A side order (this was a crazy huge brunch!) was hash browns – a bit more cooking and they would have been perfect, too. I like them crispy on both sides and tender in the middle. I couldn’t eat even three spoonfuls – I was so stuffed after only a third of my omelet – so it didn’t matter.

My partner got the biscuits and gravy ($6.95) and two scrambled eggs ($1.95 as a side) — again, from great big chickens. It looked like at least four eggs were used. They were perfectly fluffy and not too dry, not too wet – just like he likes them.

He pronounced the sausage gravy  “just great” – and he’s finicky. It was nicely studded with sausage and the biscuits weren’t too soggy underneath; nor was the dish too salty – the typical mistake cooks make with them.

We’re definitely headed back here on a weekend – though we pray it’s around since it’s a hidden find, tucked in the back of a big office plaza. Definitely worth ferreting out!

Sara’s Kitchen

  • 2000 PGA Blvd., Suite A-3140 (in City Center)
  • Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33408
  • Phone: (561) 540-2822
  • Open: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

El Colonial moves and changes names to Q’Ban Pot

Losing my friendly neighborhood Cuban eatery, El Colonial on U.S. 1, was so sad – we knew the menu by heart, and the servers and host chatted like family each time we went.

I’m late coming to report this, but they reopened six months ago under a new name: Q’Ban Pot in the old Don Ramon’s spot on Alternate A1A in Palm Beach Gardens’s Promenade Plaza.

Best price point in town

Known forever for its amazing $7.95 early bird that provided enough food to cover the table, Q’Ban Pot is following the same format – but they’re not doing an early bird at a specific time — they’re offering small plate choices all day long.

Except, they don’t call it small plates here — they’re too down to earth. Instead, it’s “lunch” or “dinner” portions you can order, no matter the time. You get three side dishes with an entree – a huge amount of food, so be forewarned. And better still for us night owls, they’re open till 10 p.m. in their new locale.

Familiar favorites

All my favorites are on the menu, plus new items (a number of sandwiches, barbecue ribs and more). My palomilla (a pounded-thin steak with lime and onions) was good — a tad overdone to my liking, but still tasty.

I wasn’t paying attention to the dinner vs. lunch portion speech when we ordered, and I wound up with half a meal I couldn’t eat – portions are beyond generous. Still – for $11.95 with 2 generous side dishes (rice and beans, and sweet plantains) – you can’t beat the meal deal. A more suitable lunch size is $8.95)

Pork Juliana a happy favorite

Also among our trio: pork Juliana – tender chunks of roast pork cooked with peppers and onions ($14.95 for dinner portion; $9.95 for lunch plate). Long a favorite from El Colonial, it made my partner’s mouth smile.

My son went for ropa vieja (translates to old rags) – shredded pot roast ($11.95 for dinner; $8.95 for lunch size). He loves tostones (say: tos-TONE-es) – fried green plantains – and chose them with black beans for his side dishes. (See below on how to make tostones.) The beef was tender and flavorful – cooked with tomatoes, onions and spices, then pulled and sauced. Terrific over rice.

It’s a soothing space, with booths and tables, mirrored walls, and a Latin soundtrack that you can talk over. We can’t wait to go back here, either.

Q’Ban Pot Cuban Cuisine

  • 9920 Alt. A1A (in the Promenade Plaza)
  • Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33410
  • (561) 799-9021
  • Open daily, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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What are tostones?

greenplantainTostones are the starchy green plantains, slices into rounds, smashed, and twice-fried. They’re a favorite way to use the green, banana-like fruit popular in several Latin countries – Puerto Rico and Cuba especially.

How do you make tostones?

 Peel a green plantain (they’re yellow and sometimes almost black when ripe). Slice them into thick rounds, almost an inch thick. Fry them in hot oil (375 degrees), turning occasionally, until they begin to color, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain well on paper; keep the oil hot.

When each batch is cooled, smash them flat. The hinged board traditionally used for this is called a tostonera. You could also smash them with the flat side of a cleaver. 

tostones

Click photo to watch how to make tostones

Fry the smashed plantains again until they’re golden and crisp. Drain on paper, salt, and eat while warm.

One large plantain will make about 8 tostones.

(To learn more about tostones, and get recipes for dipping sauces, go to www.latinfood.about.com)

Tags: Ask Jan · The Eat Beat: Restaurant News · Uncategorized

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 gina messina // Dec 3, 2009 at 9:45 pm

    Glad to here El Colonial is back. Missed them terribly. They are one of our favorites. Thanks for the info Jan!

  • 2 Merrie Lee Reese // Dec 18, 2009 at 5:12 am

    We knew Grandma Sara’s so we were delighted to visit Sara’s Kitchen for breakfast last weekend. Great food, as usual, and super nice wait staff. We look forward to going back for lunch this week.

  • 3 Merrie Lee Reese // Dec 19, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Sara’s Kitchen was a delight— the french toast was humongus so I had a snack for later. Thanks for giving us the scoop on former Grandma Sara (That gal can cook!)

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