I thought I was so clever, checking out a new restaurant early on Monday night, expecting it to be slow. It was a Monday, after all. But I learned there are no Monday lulls at the buzzy, new Blackbird in Jupiter. The place was jumping.
One of the valet attendants at the Chinese-inspired restaurant told me he has seen customers line up about an hour before the 4 p.m. opening time. To prove his point, he pulled out his cellphone to show me snapshots of the line.
What’s the buzz about? The lively, sprawling, art-filled space. The multiple bars, nooks and dining areas. A fun, throw-back menu that delivers on flavor and visual drama. (I’ll have more about this restaurant in an upcoming story.)
Critic’s picks:6 best restaurants for Thanksgiving in Palm Beach County
But I think the buzz is also a sign that season has arrived with bells on. Just in time for the holiday crunch.
Speaking of the holidays…
Campy Christmas cocktail, anyone?
Miracle bar, the kitschy, Christmas-themed pop-up cocktail bar, sleighs into two Palm Beach County locations starting this weekend.
Also this month, Miracle bar will make its first visit to the PGA National Resort, where it debuts on Wednesday, Nov. 23, and runs through Jan. 1.
Just as at The Falcon, the pop-up will set up a festive oasis in the lobby bar of the renovated PGA resort.
As for those cheeky cocktails, expect new sips such as the “Grandma Got Run Over by a T. Rex” (vodka, orange liqueur and spicy, bitter notes), the “Holiday Spiked Chai” (Jamaican overproof rum, brandy, amaretto, chai, coffee liqueur, nutmeg) and the “Santa’s Little Helper” (gin, spiced caraway syrup, sage, eucalyptus, lime).
Returning favorites include the “Christmapolitan” (vodka, elderflower, spiced cranberry sauce, dry vermouth, rosemary, lime, absinthe mist) and the Snowball Old-Fashioned (rye, gingerbread, bitters, orange essence).
Each year, Miracle bar and its related concept Sippin’ Santa stage pop-ups at more than 200 across the world.
- Miracle at PGA Resort: 400 Avenue of the Champions, Palm Beach Gardens. Open Monday through Thursday from 4 to 11 p.m., Friday 4 to midnight, Saturday noon to midnight, Sunday noon to 11 p.m.
- Miracle at The Falcon: 116 NE 6th Ave., Delray Beach. Open daily from 5 p.m. to midnight.
Hot, new restaurant comes to (*checks notes*) Loxahatchee?
Buzzy restaurants have popped up in unexpected places this year. Blackbird opened in an offbeat corner at the edge of Tequesta. Stylish AquaGrille revved up a quiet Juno Beach corner. Lewis Steakhouse debuted in a strip plaza in suburban Jupiter.
Now comes veteran restaurateur Ralph Lewis of Okeechobee Steakhouse with his family’s latest venture: Lewis Prime Grill, an American bar and grill with steakhouse cred. The new spot made its debut Wednesday in a Loxahatchee Publix plaza.
Fans of Ela Curry Kitchen can now enjoy a thali-style platter and other favorites by chef Pushkar Marathe for lunch. The new Palm Beach Gardens restaurant rolled out its lunch service Tuesday.
Lunch thali platters feature Ela’s popular butter chicken, vegetable korma and achaari shrimp, all served with basmati rice, daal and raita. At lunch, thalis are priced from $19 to $21. (Dinner thalis are $65.)
The menu also offers a variety of hand-held items, including chicken tikka kathi rolls, chili paneer kathi rolls, Amritsari fried fish sandwiches and lamb burgers, all served with masala fries. (All priced between $15 and $23.)
And for those who can’t get enough of Ela’s best-selling dish, Marathe now offers the tandoori chicken ($33) for lunch. The midday menu is rounded out by snacks, condiments, cocktails, sweets and chai.
- Ela Curry Kitchen is at 4650 Donald Ross Rd., Suite 110 in the The Shops of Donald Ross Village, Palm Beach Gardens, 561-345-2196, ElaCurryKitchen.com.
A plant-based Thanksgiving spread
Skipping the turkey, dairy and gluten on Thanksgiving isn’t as daunting as it may sound to traditionalists and carnivores. In fact, it can be delicious and satisfying.
The proof is in Christopher’s Kitchen’s “Thanksgiving Menu for Two” take-out special, created by chef Harvey Gonzalez and sous chef Alex Clemente at the upscale, plant-based restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens.
The three-course menu includes a substantial roasted cauliflower salad and jalapeño-honey corn bread as a starter.
For the main course, there’s a vegan shepherd’s pie that’s served in a butternut squash with black lentils, mushrooms and other veggies, mashed potatoes and gravy. Sides include a sweet potato gratin stack and vegan mac and cheese in a cashew cream. For dessert, there’s pumpkin pie with a warm pear caramel sauce.
The Thanksgiving dinner, which is entirely gluten-free, is $100 for two and available for take-out only.
You can preorder the special through Tuesday (by noon, Nov. 22) and pick it up Wednesday between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. Orders are accepted at 561-318-6191.
Charcuterie creators face the ‘Sharks’
Remember that local charcuterie-board company that earned a spot on Oprah’s Favorite Things list this month? Now the team behind the Riviera Beach-based Boarderie brand will make another splashy national appearance.
This time two of Boarderie’s creators and co-CEOs, Aaron Menitoff and Rachel Solomon, will appear on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” which airs at 8 p.m. tonight (Nov. 18).
Boarderie and sister brand CheeseBoarder were launched during the pandemic’s first year by veteran Wellington caterers hoping to pivot from their traditional business model. CheeseBoarder went viral after they began to sell the boards nationally via Goldbelly.com. You can read that story here.
Speaking of cheese-and-charcuterie boards…
Earlier this year, I learned it takes more than neatly arranged Manchego slices, prosciutto swirls and fancy crackers to create a party board that’s too pretty to eat. There’s a method to the masterpiece, cheese-board “influencer” Marissa Mullen told me. She’s the best-selling author behind “That Cheese Plate” book, blog and social pages.
She takes an interesting – and trademarked – approach to creating her party boards. She shared her favorite tips with me – here’s the story.
Honors for a local favorite
Kudos to veteran Palm Beach Gardens chef/restaurateur Frank Eucalitto, who recently earned a spot on the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Hall of Fame as “Restaurateur of the Year.”
His Café Chardonnay, a charming, white-tablecloth restaurant offering a menu of fine-dining classics and an extensive wine list that includes more than 30 wines by the glass, has been a PGA Boulevard favorite since 1986.
“My wife Gigi and I have loved being a part of this community and feel blessed with the support we have received over the last 36 years,” Eucalitto said in a news release issued by the association. “We could not have done this without our incredible team, and we share this award with them.”
If you’ve never been to this intimate and welcoming spot, prepare to time-travel in delicious ways. Start with the Oysters Rockefeller or the sauté of escargot, or maybe the wild mushroom strudel (my favorite) that’s served over a fontina fondue. For your main course, maybe try the macadamia-crusted yellowtail or the spiced Syrah-glazed duck, or any of Eucalitto’s nightly chef’s specials.
You’ll want dessert, of course, and there are plenty of options such as warm chocolate truffle cake, vanilla bean crème brulée and the delectably gilded seasonal berries – they’re served with Grand Marnier sabayon.
- Café Chardonnay is at 4533 PGA Blvd. (Garden Square Shoppes, at Military Trail), Palm Beach Gardens, 561-627-2662, CafeChardonnay.com
Waterfront dining in north county
When it comes to restaurants with sparkling water views, north county has plenty to brag about.
Read recent columns by Liz Balmaseda
Liz Balmaseda is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for The Palm Beach Post, part of the USA Today Network. She oversees The Post’s daily food and dining coverage. Follow her on Instagram and Post on Food Facebook. She can be reached by email at [email protected].