Florida

palmbeachflorida.jpgJust for fun, close your eyes. Picture Zsa Zsa dining at Bistro Garden or Liz at Chasen’s – bejeweled and pleasing to the eyes. Imagine charming George Hamilton tanned and natty in his double- breasted blazer table-hopping his way around the room. Now open your eyes. If the vision remains, then you must be in Palm Beach! And, guess what! You’ll still see charming George tanned and natty in his double-breasted blazer table-hopping his way around the room – along with Jimmy Buffet, Rod Stewart, Donald Trump, Vic Damone, Dina Merrill, Susan Lucci, the indomitable Dame Celia Lipton Ferris, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh.

Surely, you understand the delight for a Left Coast Malibu Beach Bum time-warping on the "Right” Shore. For someone who actually remembers the bridal trail down Sunset Blvd and a laid back Rodeo Drive of local businesses, Palm Beach and Worth Avenue is the old Beverly Hills I most cherish.  Here in Palm Beach most of the upscale restaurants recall those old glamour days, and their menus cater to the pre-foodie crowd who like their food simple and well prepared.

Café L'Europe most exemplifies Beverly Hills posh dining from the eighties. The interiors, with décor reminiscent of the Belle Epoch – sparkle like champagne. Gaiety seems part of the menu with its varied list of Iranian, Russian, Italian and domestic caviar, Sliced Scottish Smoked Salmon, Escargot Bourguignonne, (any one who ever lived in the Colony knows an excellent snail when they see one!), and a ninety-eight page wine list.

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floridagrill.jpg On the second day of our Florida trip, we dined at one of our favorite, always good, “coming home” restaurants in Apalachicola: The Apalachicola Seafood Grill. Located in the heart of “downtown” Apalachicola (within spitting distance of the town’s solitary traffic light) , The Grill offers a simple menu, The World’s Largest Fried Grouper Sandwich, an impressive assortment of beer (you get your own bottle) and the motto “No Whining.” We have been eating at The Grill at least once a trip since Sam was two and threw a sippy cup at the front window. We’ve not been disappointed.  I have had everything on the menu that I want to try, and the Grill is not the kind of restaurant that changes it’s menu. There are fresh shrimp, oysters and fishes fried, baked, broiled, in soups, stews and chowders, in sandwiches and/or in baskets. City folk can have a salad with seafood in it, if they insist. If I arrived at The Grill to discover that they were offering a terrine of langoustine on a bed of microgreens with a Guiness reduction, I would burst into tears.

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rhythm009OK... it is better than not coming at all!

There is something rather delicious about “discovering” a restaurant and doing the brag only to find everyone in the room has been eating there for decades. That happened to us last week when we discovered Rhythm Café in the center of West Palm’s Antique Row - a true “café” converted from a 1950’s drugstore which explains the funky exterior window and serpentine counter. Décor is tacky 50’s and the joint is filled with odd 50’s and 60’s adult toys, pink flamingos and vintage prom photos. (If you bring them your prom photo you get free dessert.)

It is even funkier than I can describe but as you check out the menu the first bit of information offered is a check list of stuff not welcomed at their place: Perfume, for example, can be worn but only the person whispering sweet nothings in your ear should be able to smell it (21 gun salute for that!); Complaints are not accepted, nor grumpy behavior. The list goes on, but it is clear Rhythm Cafe chooses its clientele! And, after reading the menu, if you don’t like its’ yummy descriptions, then leave immediately, for Rhythm Café is all about its yummmmmmmmmmm factor!

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If ever there is a restaurant – cool and hot at the same time – that belongs somewhere wondrous like in LA, buccan is it. Unbelievable beyond adjectives and totally filled with great vibes, buccan is only a plane ticket away...in Palm Beach! OMG A hot spot in Palm Beach?

“buccan is so good I come here on my night off.” Quite a compliment, but also quite remarkable, as the compliment is coming from our friendly and comely buccan waitress! She might have added that this new, nearly unbearably delicious restaurant is also the first true hot spot in Palm Beach! One step across the threshold and anyone can feel the jovial spirit of laughter and merriment.

Started by Palm Beach bachelor, Piper Quinn and Chef Clay Conley, buccan brings not only a new hip-but-gracious aesthetic to Palm Beach; it brings a new way of dining.

The first sight upon entering buccan is the large, casually decorated living room-like lounge with its bar to one side. Its’ cordial ambience brings in customers early to capture a sofa or armchair.

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roccossign.jpgThere is the neighborhood Mexican Restaurant – good solid simple Mexican food with waiters who are kind to children and ask all women under 50 for their ID when they order beer. (I used to LOVE that!) There is the tourist Mexican Restaurant Emporium that sells T-shirts, sombreros and disappointing but familiar fare. And then, there is the vaguely upscale hip and you-definitely-have-a-chance-of-getting-laid joint that is a great bar first – Mexican food second kinda place.  Rocco's Tacos in West Palm Beach is that kinda place!

So lets start with the bar. It is a glorious bar extending the length of the restaurant. With chair back stools, oak paneling and extensive menu of Tequila, Mezcal and other south of the border spirits, one could happily spend the night sitting at this bar drinking Tequila shots and holding it all together with Jalapeno Poppers and freshly made Guacamole. Should one's eyes start to roll about, one might even notice the wondrous chandeliers and tin (or faux-tine) ceiling that give the place such a warm air of pre-coital romance. Far be it of me to break the mood by suggesting their food only pretends to be marvelous. (And, for that matter if one's eyes are indeed rolling about, who cares!)

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