Florida

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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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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ImageOutside, the roosters crow. I look at the time display on my cell phone within reach. 4:30. A.M. As hard as I try, I cannot fall back to sleep. The continuous crying sounds of the roosters are foreign to me and grate on my nerves.

Finally, I pull myself out of bed, throw on some workout clothes and softly pad down the stairs outside my room.

I sit in the dark, the only light coming from the screen of my laptop computer. As my fingers move quickly across the keys, the light of day appears, surprising me with its sudden takeover of the night.

The sound of cars in the street join the constant noise of roosters calling to one another. My nose picks up the familiar aroma of yeast dough wafting from the kitchen.

Early each morning, an employee of the Angelina Guesthouse, where I'm staying in Key West, Florida, opens the kitchen in the early morning hours of darkness, while most of the guests are still deep in their slumber. On this morning, Nodira, a beautiful woman originally from Uzbekictan, pulls two batches of plump unbaked cinnamon rolls from the refrigerator and slides them into the oven.

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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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westpalmbeach.jpgOur friend, Shiny Sheet Society Editor, Shannon Donnelly, can masticate on purple prose as well as any one I know: we are naught but a chew toy impaled on the incisors of the Cosmic Hellhound of Wall Street (from a "society" editor, no less). She was catching our attention to suggest that bad times should equal better manners – and why not; we can never over-spend on Grace.  Course in this case Grace is the "slightly-hung-over" Doyenne of the Etiquette of Denial. From her delicious SOCIAL GRACE'S GUIDE TO GETTING THROUGH ALL THIS, comes Rule Number One which forbids the use of the word "new" unless it is followed by either the (interchangeable) "grandchild" or "shelter dog." And, forget any conversation that touches on "bling" or "leveraged buyout." That will be a challenge to most Palm Beachers, but not to us as we now "have permission" to cross Worth Lagoon at will and treat the whole experience as just one of life's many broadening experiences. Crossing Southern Bridge leads to West Palm Beach – an exotic land to be sure.
 
West Palm actually has (gasp) sexy, hot young people that mingle at sexy hot spots like Bradley's, Grease, or Rocco's Tacos & Tequila Bar. (I plan to write about Grease and Rocco's as soon as I take the time to Spa myself to youthful, sexy and hot – well, at least in Bill's eyes).
 
West Palm also has – like all of South Florida – great Cuban Restaurants!  But, when it comes to Cuban food I find myself heading down a yellow brick road. I have no sense of seasoning, how flavors combine or what to order.  I am clueless – a Cuban food ninny, but a smart ninny!  Bill and I are going to Havana, the best authentic Cuban restaurant in Palm Beach County with an aficionado – Grace herself – Shannon Donnelly, who loves this opened-24hrs-a-day storefront kitchen.

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