The Next Big Thing in North Palm Beach County’s Dining Scene


The next big thing on the dining scene in North County is definitely BrickTops and Tiki Hut in Palm Beach Gardens (BT PBG)!

A friend and his Partners have re-opened the old River House restaurant and done it absolutely and fantastically well. If they keep the food quality the same as opening night (tonight) and improve on it some it will be the Palm Beach Grill of North County and there will be no need to drive south for a wonderful dining room – a well balanced and outstanding menu – great service – a large and attractive indoor bar – “The Patio” just off the water with an Intracoastal View and for the “meet and greet” scene the new and super enlarged Tiki Hut bar right along the waters edge.

BT PBG has it all: Food, Ambience, Water Front View, Friendly Folks and a great place to meet your friends!

The parking is the same as the River House but this valet company moves the cars in and out fast! Marty and I will be back soon and will report to you more about our food favorites. Tonight we were with our friends Chris and Barry and he is a Sushi Guru. He declared his Sushi appetizer “top grade Sushi.” I give you his professional opinion because Marty and I like our food cooked. That said, I loved the Tuna Carpaccio – layered with fresh corn. All our entrees were good and we loved the Hot Fudge Sundae and the Carrot Cake. They were out of Joe’s famous Kee Lime Pie by the time we got to dessert but I’m sure more is on the way.

I will update you soon but I can’t encourage you enough to be one of the first to enjoy what is destined to become the “it place” with true food quality, service and ambience in North County.

By the way they ARE taking reservations. Their number is 561-530-4313. Their website is: http://bricktops.com/palm-beach-gardens/ – where you can check out the menu for yourself.

Uncle Larry

City Tap – Spoiler Alert – It’s Not Bar Food


Marty and I enjoyed dinner last night at the relatively new City Tap in City Place. City Tap (CT) is located at the top of the escalator looking down on the fountain. They have indoor and outdoor bars and dining. When we walked inside we were impressed with the quality of the build out, the size of the room, the U shaped bar and the number and size of the TVs. In addition to the bar seats and surrounding high tops CT has three other seating areas: inside in the main dining room – a separate yet covered room that is open to the walkway and the fountain – as well as a private dining room.

If you enjoy “Craft” beers CT has sixty on tap for you to choose from. Yes that’s 60 and from the sampling tray we tasted they were all COLD – the kegs are all kept in a super cold storage locker out of sight but close to the bar.

I’m pleased to say that CT also features “Craft” food. Marty and I feasted on three excellent appetizers: Corn and Crab Hush Puppies with both a Remoulade Sauce and a small serving pot of Honey Thyme Butter – Blended cold Foie Gras with mustard beads and sweet thinly sliced onions with big toast points – and Tuna Carpaccio. The Hush Puppies brushed in the Honey Thyme Butter were addictive – like fresh potato chips or popcorn, you can’t eat just one.

For our entree we shared the Wednesday Night Special – which is a most unusual and delicious Berkshire Pork Arancini. It looks like a large open sided ravioli – whose top and bottom is a square of thin, crisp and tasty pork filled with pulled pork in a delightful sauce. It is as good as it is unique. Each day of the week they have a different special which is listed on the menu.

In addition to a sampling of Craft Beers we had an enjoyable Margarita and one of “Rebecca’s Special Home Brewed Tea.” The menu says if you can guess the ingredients they will give you a second one.

We ate at the Bar and the service was friendly, prompt and courteous. If you want to see a game or just watch sports on TV you are surrounded by GIANT sized TV screens with virtually unlimited sight lines. On the other hand if you are with a date, a four top or a big party there are a variety of seating options available to you.

City Tap – Craft Beer and Craft Food.

The Breaker’s “ReNewed” Seafood Bar


If you have been fortunate enough to visit The Breakers on Palm Beach you know what a first class Property it is – really without peer in the region. You may have had the opportunity to enjoy the Seafood Bar in times past. Be sure to put a visit for lunch or dinner to the just opened and incredibly well renovated, expanded and beautiful old/new Seafood Bar on your lunch or dinner to do list.

“Millions and millions” of dollars were spent and no holds barred to make this classic dining room with a direct ocean view a visual treat to match the menu. The new Seafood Bar appears to be twice the size of the old room – with a very open feeling and a view from every where of the spacious kitchen and the world’s largest aquarium bar – complete with new windows for more ocean front viewing. The Bar is triple the length of the original aquarium bar and was crafted for The Breakers in Nevada and shipped in one piece. The aquarium is also deeper, enhancing your view and giving the fish more room to swim. If the fish swim all the way from one end to the other they will be in great shape.

As we sat at our table yesterday we had the feeling we were sitting in a classic 1920’s wooden ship – so unique and comfortable. If you liked the old menu you will be happy because 75% of their favorites are back. We always loved the Seafood Club and it was great to have it again with their unbelievably rich Truffle Fries. In addition there were a few new treats we really enjoyed. Several of their appetizers and light items are being served tasting style on three small but connected plates. Marty and I were there yesterday with our friend Rebecca and ordering several of these items was perfect for sharing.

We strongly recommend the Tuna Tartar and the Filet sliders. They were great. Speaking of great – don’t forget to start with an order of their freshly baked and buttered Yeast Rolls. I could have eaten ten of them they were so light and tasty. We threw caution to the wind and ordered a few fresh oysters, a side of Gorgonzola/Truffle fries and finished up splitting their rich and delicious Tres’ Leches with fresh pressed coffee.

As you can guess our attentive server had to help us get up after all that great food and the good news is we were at The Breakers and are free to walk off lunch and enjoy their grand interior and exterior views. As always The Breakers welcomes “the local poor” like Marty and I and valet parking is complimentary when you get your parking stub stamped in any of their restaurants, bars and shops.

It’s amazing what “millions and millions” of dollars will get you these days!

The Woods: Tiger’s New High End Sports Bar in Jupiter’s Harbourside


If you are in town or live locally I think you will be pleased if you take the time to stop in and see The Woods – Tiger’s relatively new restaurant in Jupiter’s Harbourside.

The “build out” sends a message – welcome to the cool place in town. Once you get past the modest entry way the main room looks like what I would expect to see if Tiger had an apartment in Manhattan. It “says” modern and youthful with its sharp and clean lines and well blended colors of black and muted brown and grays. Seriously can black and muted browns and grays be called colors?

If it weren’t for the fifty or so flat screen TVs everywhere – including two in each booth that seats six – the Dining Room which surrounds the Bar – would really look like a modern and elegant restaurant. As a sports fan I find the TVs a plus and as a practicing ADD diner I’m always glad to have a sports program I can check on when the food is slow to arrive and or when I get tired of hearing myself talk. Yes, believe it or not I really do get tired of hearing myself talk occasionally but its never stopped me from rambling on.

Speaking of hearing myself talk as I looked around – other than the tall ceiling there is not one soft, sound absorbing material on any surface. When this place gets to jumping I’ll bet you the volume level will make the Palm Beach Grill sound like your High School Library.

If you would like to “see” what Tiger’s new place looks like before you go check out the two websites below. The first is the Official The Woods site. It opens with moving shots of the room and invites you to open the easy to read links. I encourage you to click on The Menu. That way I don’t have to waste your time telling you about what they offer or what it cost. I will say the items we had were slightly above average quality for Jupiter dining – which wouldn’t pass for low quality in Chicago or Manhattan. But hey – you won’t freeze your butt off waiting to get in for your 8:00 reservation at 8:45.

The second site is from Yelp and if you look just to the right you will see an option to open all 46 pictures. Once again sparing me the necessity of getting out my iPhone.

For now there is only one Menu – for lunch and dinner. I would say it’s fully priced for lunch but generally reasonably priced for dinner. Our personable male server from Syracuse (Go Orange) said they will soon be offering several daily “Specials” on the dinner menu.

Marty and I are huge fans of the Seafood Sandwich at the Ocean Bar in The Breakers. The Woods has something that sounds almost like it and comes with Truffle Fries so we all ordered that. Bad move! Its not cold, fresh pieces of lobster and crab but a luke warm “cake” of what could be mystery shell fish with that “fish taste” and a bun thick enough to require a teen ager to pull out their retainer to get their lips over it all. Sadly, the Truffle Fries were fried sometime today but had sit quite a while under the heat lamp waiting for them to turn their crispiness into limp but tasty potato strings.

On the plus side the fried Calamari were good – if not a little chewy – but we really like the breading. Finally one clear winner is the Chocolate Cake whose description sounds like a conglomeration of all things chocolate. It was excellent! We had one for the three of us and had a third of it to carry home.

I am losing to Tony at tennis tonight so I could not have a drink. However, Marty and Nancy ordered the Strawberry and Basil Margarita. They were smiling right away so I took a sip and for a slightly fruity Margarita for the Ladies or Men who want to be – it was pretty good.

Remember to open The Woods Site and Drink in the Corporate By-Line: Relax in Style, Eat Extravagantly and Play better on the weekends than Tiger.

Larry

http://woodsjupiter.com/

http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-woods-jupiter-jupiter

Cabo Flats – Jupiter – Sad – Like watching the wake of someone you don’t know!


In the history of restaurant management the decision to close the Downtown at The Gardens Cabo Flats location and move it to US One in Jupiter will go down as one of the top five worst decisions ever – ever – ever.

Cabo at Downtown always had mediocre food but it had a great bar scene – a place to see and be seen and the Bar Staff was friendly, professional and made great drinks.

Cabo in the dead zone on US One in Jupiter has worst food than Downtown and the drinks are below mediocre and weak too boot. The bar scene consisted of ten to fifteen retired guys sitting with their heads down sipping their drinks like Willie Lowman at the end of a bad day of sales calls. The most exciting thing that happened all night was when a bus-man dropped a tray of plates.

When I say “dead zone” I mean it literally. Since we moved here in late 1996 there have been five failed restaurants in this location and my money says it will be six by the end of season two.

If you live in North County your choices for Mexican Food are limited. As mediocre as they may be Rancho Chico and Calaveras Cantino at Harbor Side are better than Cabo Flats on US One in Jupiter. If you are limiting your driving range to North County and you want a good and strong Margarita try the Repasado Double at The Thirsty Turtle or the surprisingly good “straight up” Margarita at Schooners – sitting in the AC at the bar.

Blend Bistro – The most promising new small restaurant opening in North County in the 21st Century


Marty and I had time to kill before a movie at Downtown at The Gardens and we walked past a new place called The Blend Bistro. They have a menu posted on the front door and the food looked very interesting but then the phrase “Organic Food and Wine” caught my eye.

At seventy I’m not concerned about the effect of GMOs in food on my aging body and Organic anything isn’t in the top 10,000 things that I am concerned about in life.

When it comes to food I care about mouth feel and taste. Fast forward to our second meal at Blend and I am a convert. Their fresh organic foods taste better than it’s counterparts. Here’s a sampling of the items we have ordered and really enjoyed at Blend: Onion Soup Gratinee – very tasty. Cheddar Cheese Stuffed Grass-Fed Beef Meatballs – I’ll be asking Linda to cater them for our next Super Bowl Party. Roasted Stuffed Poblano Chile – there is no way something could be this flavorful and good for you at the same time.

Finally I saved the best for last – Blend’s two Flatbread offerings. Roasted Mushroom & Goat Cheese – Caramelized Eggplant & Brie. The folks at Buccan on Palm Beach would be proud to offer these two crispy, rich and delicious flatbreads.

For dessert the Fudge Cake brought smiles to Marty and our friend Emily – who with her husband Scott treated us for lunch.

We can safely say Blend serves excellent food for the health conscious diner and for us clean eating meat lovers.

Though we did not try any of them “Blend” has a wide-ranging variety of Smoothies and Fresh Press Juices. They serve wine, beer, Sangria and you may bring your own wine for a corkage fee of $15.

We met Linda, one of two owners and she humored an old man who is set in his ways and talked to us about the concept of “organic food.” Her perception of organic is two things: First – organic foods must not have any Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). I sort of liken that process to Monsanto altering the DNA of our food for what I’m sure they feel are good reasons. Second – foods that are only served “within season.” If they are not being harvested now Blend isn’t serving them now. Hence, don’t get too attached to the current menu because as season changes so will the menu.

I may not understand what organic food and wines are but I can assure you the food and service is excellent at The Blend Bistro in Downtown at The Gardens. Also, believe it or not they offer a red and a white Sangria that are both excellent. I have never liked Sangria but it was light, crisp and had fresh organic apples bites floating on the top that were very tasty.

Blend’s pricing is very reasonable. “Small Plates” range from $8 to $14 – Salads $12 to $15 – Entrees from $15 to $18 with one Sirloin Steak at $28 – Smoothies are $9 and Juices are $7.

Here’s to healthy, happy and great tasting food! See below for three pictures of items we had Wednesday.

The Blend Bistro – 561-331-8766

Uncle Larry

Ruth’s Chris Steak House on US One in North Palm Beach. Like Uncle Larry She is NOT aging gracefully – just getting more expensive!


Marty and Tony occasionally twist my arm into going to Ruth’s Chris Steak House on US One in North Palm Beach. Last night’s dining experience snapped my arm off at the shoulder joint. Here’s a few low lights of the evening.

We started with a side order of onion rings and there were only enough for us to have one ring apiece. It wasn’t hot or crunchy so I quickly got over my disappointment of not having two. The House Chopped Salad was fine but we slowly discerned they staffed the kitchen to match the lack of a crowd in the dining room. Fortunately Tony has a new love so we did not notice how terribly long it took for the meats to come.

Marty and I ordered the Porterhouse for two at the bargain price of eighty-five dollars. We asked for medium rare and it came with a warm brown center – adding a touch of crunchiness to the chewy Strip portion. Their steaks are like the price of gasoline. The Cowboy Rib-eye with tax and a 20% tip is now only $62.33. For those of you who don’t eat meat the chicken – which used to be excellent was dry enough to have been cooked yesterday.

My favorite side used to be potatoes Au gratin. When they came out looking like potatoes floating in a cereal bowl we asked what happened and our server, who must be living in the Whitehall Retirement Home in Juno Beach said with a cracked voice – “sir, they’ve changed the recipe.” How do you change the recipe of Potatoes Au Gratin which have been around for centuries.

For our final insult – make that touch of the evening we ordered the hot Raisin Bread Pudding with an extra side of the sauce hot also. You guessed it. The Bread Pudding and sauce came straight from the refrigerator. We asked for the Bread Pudding to go so we could warm it up at home and for the check. Bill Gates would have probably thought four hundred dollars for what we had was fine but not an old retired guy living on fixed income.

I’m sorry I won’t be able to review this once fine restaurant again but slow service, overcooked meat, dry chicken, cold bread pudding at prices I haven’t seen since I filled my gas tank up are too much for –

Uncle Larry

Le Fogata – on Northlake in Lake Park – Keep on Driving


If “Le Fogata” is Spanish for the Italian slang “Fahget about it” then it is correctly named.

For many years Marty and I have driven by “Le Fogata – Fine Mexican Cuisine” on Northlake – and often thought we should stop in and try it because there are so few good Mexican restaurants around.

My advise to you – keep on driving. I’d say more but I have to take two Tums washed down with an Alka-Seltzer before the revulsion of the food products leaves me worshiping at the porcelain altar.

Uncle Larry

Chowder Heads – Driftwood Plaza – Good Food and Friendly Service – Casual – Excellent Value – “B”


Marty and I joined our friends Russ and Peggy on a quest to check out Chowder Heads in the Driftwood Plaza on US One in Jupiter. We had a fun evening. If you sit inside you get to meet their humorous and smart-aleck bartender Harry. Harry has a tough job choosing between the two kinds of Chardonnay they offer – the better of the two comes with your own metal screw top. Suffice it say their wine list is not the reason we like Chowder Heads and will definitely go back. The good news is you can bring you own wine for a fifteen dollar corkage fee.

We ordered all three of their “Wicked Good” Appetizers plus their fresh and crispy but moist fried oysters. The Crab Martini, Fried Clams and Fried Oysters were all great! When we go again I will also order a side of their Onion Strings as a sharing appetizer. When hot they were as good as onion rings get. We hear their bisque and Clam Chowder is excellent but we had so many apps we moved on to entrees.

All four us highly recommend the “Hot Lobster Roll” and preferred it to the cold lobster roll. The crispy, buttered bun and steamed lobster is a winner. The sides – including the onion strings, french fries, and Jimmy Co’s Slaw were all good as well.

For dessert things sort of bottomed out. They weren’t bad but were sort of on par with the wine list.

Reading my review you will get the impression Chowder Heads is a “carbohydrate” and fried foods joint. For us it was because that’s what we like. However, they also offer salads, fresh raw oysters and a variety of shrimp and lobster for our friends who eat healthy or actually like food that isn’t fried. This is really a good New England Seafood place – what Cod & Capers wants to be. I could be wrong but I don’t think they serve any variety of meat or chicken.

The outside seating is pretty nice with the sound of the Driftwood water fountain. Our server Ashley is a great kid and all the servers work as a team and helped each other out. Ed the Host, Harry and all the servers were friendly and helped make Chowder heads a place we will try again soon.

We enjoyed the food, service, casual atmosphere and thought Chowder Heads is Excellent Value.

Uncle Larry

HMF – A Grand Hotel Bar and Tapas Dining worthy of The Breakers


HMF – Great fun and adventurous libations and food for a night out with someone special or a lively party of fifteen in a setting that will never tire your eyes.

The Breakers in Palm Beach is not only one of the Grandest Hotel properties in the world it is also blessed with a Family ownership group that no matter the economic climate is committed to investing millions of dollars each year to keep this Grand Old Lady looking like a sophisticated model from the pages of Vogue.

This year’s most obvious improvement is the HMF – a 6,500 square feet Grand Hotel Bar with Tapas Dining which blends the historical features of the Breakers north wing with a colorful and tasteful modern decor. HMF is the Breaker’s family nod to its founder Henry Morrison Flagler and features a throw back look with: Beautiful women in black, specialty drinks from the period and the sixties – a full wine list – popular and “craft” beers – an open Sushi Bar with a myriad of fresh Sushi and Sashimi – forty tapas food items ranging from apps and salads to pizza and pasta to “The Food Truck” and of course five desserts.

Within just weeks of opening HMF has become the “it” place to visit on Palm Beach. As is always the case the Breaker’s family welcomes “locals” like Marty and I who come to enjoy this Grand property and sleep at home. Even valet parking is complimentary when the restaurant validates your life – OK maybe not your life – just your parking stub.

For those of you who have been to The Breakers you may wonder where HMF is located. Turn left in the main lobby and right into the north wing which used to be the Tapestry Bar and Le’ escalier. Seven million dollars ($7,000,000) later this large open space has been carefully designed to give you the feeling of a grand open bar with generous space and yet the table setting we had for a party of five gave us a feeling of intimacy where we could have our own party and actually hear each everyone’s conversation.

With my cold we invited three of our “dining friends” to join us and sample as many tasty treats as we could hold. All five of us give HMF our highest marks for ambiance, fun, good drinks and Larry Marty and Friendsadventuresome food options. These are the items we particularly enjoyed. There were many we didn’t get to try and you will find many different and unique food choices for your personal taste.

Drinks: Personally I like to taste the alcohol. However, we did find three specialty cocktails that we really enjoyed – The Redhead – Mojito Royale and for openers the Frescavescent. Note – the Drink recommendations come only from Uncle Larry and Saint Marty as our three Dining Friends don’t drink alcohol.

Apps: Warm Onion and Reggiano Dip and HMF’s House Made Fingerling Chips.

Pasta: Orecchiete, Tuscan Duck Sausage and Wild Mushrooms.

The Food Wagon: Wagyu Beef Sliders – Korean Short Ribs – Duck Bao Buns – Shitake Potstickers.

Desserts: Warm Vanilla Bean Tapioca – Gianjinja Chocolate Torte.

Uncle Larry Rates HMF: Drinks 7 – Food 7.5  – Service 9 – Ambiance 10

The Breakers new HMF is a must see place for adventurous diners who enjoy and good time and want to see what seven million dollars can do in a Grand Space.  It is particularly well suited for going with a group of friends for a unique evening. However, HMF is not a traditional restaurant. It’s not meant for a two or four top that are looking for a conventional salad, entrée and out the door. Besides, some people don’t like to look at beautiful women while being served their drinks, food and desserts.

Uncle Larry