2016-12-08 / Top News

Out-of-the-way eats

Expect the unexpected at these restaurants, from crumpets to camel burgers

While it seems there are restaurants on every corner, some are actually a bit harder to find.

We sought out some of the hidden spots and unusual tables in our area that provide a unique dining experience worthy of the hunt.

Tucked into the end of the

Abacoa Plaza in Jupiter is a little spot with big food. The couple who own Fit Body Bistro want to turn diners on to clean eating and healthful food — by offering up fresh flavors in dishes you can design yourself.

Jennifer Antonuccio and Chris Twardowski were looking for clean, green foods with no preservatives or dyes, gluten-free, no lab-designed GMO foods, and no hormones or antibiotics in the meats. They couldn’t find what they wanted in the area, so they opened Fit Body Bistro.

“The concept is pure, clean eating. Most of our food is organic. It’s top quality food that tastes amazing. If you eat healthy, you feel good,” Ms. Antonuccio said.

Serenity Garden offers tea and comfort near the Norton Museum. 
COURTESY PHOTO Serenity Garden offers tea and comfort near the Norton Museum. COURTESY PHOTO It’s counter-serve quick food in a casual atmosphere, but not “fast food dining,” she said. “It’s better than fine dining. Our food is fresher and better quality than most fine restaurants. And the prices are reasonable for this kind of food.”

Even if diners don’t care about healthy eating and clean foods, “They still love our food. We have a bison burger — not laden with toxins. Come in and get a burger and a nice glass of red wine that won’t give you a headache, and it’s a great meal,” she said, adding that a lot of diners who are skeptical come in with friends and are soon converts.

Pro baseball players, golfers, and other athletes sent by their trainers eat here regularly; others who have found it on the suggestion of a nutritionist or doctor come in to buy the meal plans — a six-day healthy dinner take-out you can design for around $7 a day.

Gander Mountain’s Tall Tales has a Northwest look with Florida menu items. 
SCOTT SIMMONS / FLORIDA WEEKLY Gander Mountain’s Tall Tales has a Northwest look with Florida menu items. SCOTT SIMMONS / FLORIDA WEEKLY Customer favorites include a protein pizza, made with ground organic chicken as the “crust” and topped with a house-made “pushcart” tomato sauce. The party bowl is a base of the ground chicken topped with organic brown rice, sweet peppers, organic spinach, and a house-made picatta sauce.

“You can go crazy with all of our stuff — there’s a lot of mix and match. Build your own meals. Our breakfast items are all plant-based protein — the Fit French toast we make in-house. The Power Break is egg whites with two blueberry pancakes — they’re so good you don’t need syrup on them.”

For dessert, there’s the monster oatmeal cookie or a vegan fudgy brownie. They also carry Castronova’s Chocolate made by a Stuart chocolatier.

Jardin offers an international menu on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach. 
COURTESY PHOTO Jardin offers an international menu on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach. COURTESY PHOTO Fit Body Bistro, 5440 Military T rail #1, Jupiter; phone 627- 5747; www.fitbodybistro.com. Open Monday- Saturday for lunch; dinner, Monday- Friday. Closed Sunday. ¦ ¦ ¦

For a walk on the wilder side, take a Gander at Tall Tales Café. It’s inside the sporting goods mecca, Gander Mountain, found behind The Home Depot on Northlake Boulevard.

The café, with a separate entrance, is an attractive space, meant to emulate a hunting or ski lodge in the mountains, perhaps. Except there’s a snook mounted on the wall, instead of the requisite coldwater fish you might see in such a setting.

The menu is hunter/fisher friendly, with several unique items, with a great deal of game meats and fish.

The Parisian offers French fare in Jupiter. The Parisian offers French fare in Jupiter. It includes elk, rabbit, venison, bison, ostrich, and a sliced kangaroo loin — which is served topped with almonds, mushrooms, herbs and a blood orange glaze.

There’s a camel burger on the menu, too.

“It’s a new item we’re trying out,” said general manager Lance Baitsholts.

The meats are flown in — the elk from New Zealand; the kangaroo from Australia, the bison from the U.S. Northwest. Spicy buffalo chili was on the menu during a recent lunch visit. For tamer appetites, there’s chicken, salads, nachos, and all-from-scratch pizzas baked in a wood-fired oven.

In all, the game is “pretty popular” with diners, Mr. Baitsholts said. “A lot of people come in and want to try something they’ve never had.”

The audience leans to the outdoor and adventurous crowds, he said, with little call for vegetarian items. “We could accommodate them if they asked, but we don’t have many here asking for it.”

Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island’s 3800 showcases the cooking of Chef Gustavo Calderon. Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island’s 3800 showcases the cooking of Chef Gustavo Calderon. A full bar, including a large craft beer list, is also popular around happy hour. A banquet room accommodates up to 50.

Tall Tales Café at Gander Mountain, 100 Gander Way, Palm Beach Gardens; phone 627- 5642; www.talltalesrestaurant.com. Open daily for lunch and dinner. ¦ ¦ ¦

There’s peace and quiet at the Serenity Garden Tea House and Cafe, next to the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach.

The owner, Audrey Farrelly, hails from Dublin, where they know how to set a proper tea.

“Yes, we serve high tea,” she said. It’s tea as befitting the royals — with scones, clotted cream and jam, finger sandwiches, pastries and fruit bits, served on tiered serving stands.

She also does a fair amount of catered luncheons in-house — salads, soups, and sandwiches, such as summer chicken salad, pear and gorgonzola salad, or a ham and brie sandwich with mango chutney.

Thursday nights find her open late to accommodate the Norton spillover — it’s their Art After Dark event. She’ll offer wines and small bites.

Other events are group affairs — essential oil classes, where guests dine, then make and take home soaps, scents, and scrubs.

In the afternoon, there’s free wifi with $5 scone and tea plates, and a $4 glass of wine. “I get a lot of people coming in from their offices — it’s too noisy, and they need the peace and quiet.”

Wine pairing dinners are scheduled the first Wednesday of each month — with Cordon Bleu Catering helping with foods.

The quaint house is popular with ladies who lunch, but men find it just as charming, she said.

A private room accommodates nine, or a group can book the restaurant for a private event, which often is the case, she said.

Serenity Garden Tea House and Café, 316 Vallette Way, West Palm Beach; phone 655- 3911; www.serenitygardentea.com. Open Tuesday- Friday, 11: 30 a. m.- 6 p . m.; Saturday, 11: 30 a. m.- 4 p. m. Closed Monday for private parties, and closed Sunday.

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The Tabica Grill has been around — for a couple of decades. Some diners might have forgotten about it, tucked into one of the many strip malls along Indiantown Road.

Too bad: Its extensive menu of American grill and some fusion favorites can satisfy a diverse crowd of diners.

Let’s start with that glorious bread — made in-house. It’s brought to the table to tempt you into lingering over a drink before you order. It works like a charm.

As for starters: The signature Cajun eggrolls are still here after many years, but so are short rib tacos and their version of Asian firecracker wings.

Several salads listed could be a meal with a choice of protein on top, especially if paired with a house-made soup.

Home-like grilled meatloaf — wrapped in bacon and served with garlic mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy; a hearty bone-in “osso buco” cut pork shank served with a tasty rosemary-tomato demi-glace; and the bistro roast chicken with roasted red potatoes show off the comfort-style menu.

There are steaks, grilled salmon, pastas, seafood etouffee, pork schnitzel, and Maryland-style crab cakes among other dishes — most of which are also on the Early Bird menu (must be in seats by 6:30 p.m. for it).

All of these pair with fair wine and extensive beer lists.

For dessert there’s a flavor-of-the-day crème brulee to satisfy the sweet/creamy tooth.

Tabica Grill, 901 Indiant own Road, Jupiter; phone 747- 0108; www.tabicagrill.net. Open for lunch Monday- Friday; dinner, daily. ¦ ¦ ¦

Crave a bit of French? A delightful little brasserie, beautifully built out by the owner, is The Parisian Restaurant & Wine Bar.

From the black-and-white tile floors to the wide, dark wood bar, it’s a transporting experience sitting down to dine.

Owner/host/chef Tarzi Benazzouz, son of a Parisian chef, occasionally puts a modern spin on the traditional classics, but doesn’t stray too far afield.

The foie gras terrine is flown in from France — why try to outdo the finest?

A charcuterie board features a Basque country ham — a nod to Mr. Benazzouz’s other heritage. Garlic sausage and duck mousse pate round out that plate.

Chorizo mussels are cooked with white wine, onion, and garlic broth — you’ll want extra baguettes to soak it up. An alternative is the classic mussels mariniere (more bread here, too).

Duck confit, poached duck leg, is served with a classic apple-prune sauce and vegetables; the peppercorn NY strip comes with crispy little pommes frites.

No time for a whole meal? Those charcuterie plates or the cheese plates, paired with one of the French wines from a curated list, is a savior as a pre-theater light bite at the bar. The outdoor patio is now habitable in cooler weather: Dine under the stars, dreaming of gay Paree.

The Parisian Restaurant & Wine Bar, 201 N. U. S. Highway 1, Suite D- 9, Jupiter; phone 360- 2224; www.theparisianrestaurant.com. Open for dinner daily at 5: 30 p. m., and Sunday brunch from 11 a. m. to 2: 30 p. m. ¦ ¦ ¦

A buzz is growing over the truly hidden find on Clematis in downtown West Palm Beach. Jardin, a restaurant that opened earlier this year, is owned by a newlywed couple who have put their best into an international menu here.

A six-course tasting menu is one way to sample a lot of the creative chef’s work. All the foods center on the seasons, and the menu changes daily.

For fall, it featured items such as cauliflower with maple yogurt, Vadouvan cashews, and grapes as a starter. Sweet potatoes and slow-roasted pork, duck tacos, and oven roast chicken with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and marble potatoes were entrees — changed out with other dishes of the night.

Some thing stay: Charred octopus appetizer — a don’t miss dish — is served with a chorizo gremolata and passion fruit with sprouted almonds.

Chef/owner Jordan Lerman, Florida born but with time spent in the Middle East, surprises diners with an unusual ingredient in nearly every dish. Find Forbidden rice served with fresh catch, or bulgur with a pork shoulder steak, along with endive and blue cheese. The pan-roasted duck has farro, mustard greens, and persimmons — with crushed peanuts.

A number of dishes are vegetarian or gluten-free — including the desserts made by Stephanie Cohen — a student of French pastry. A full bar and select wine list complements the foods here.

A tip: Sit at the bar and watch the chef hard at work, preparing foods fresh to order.

Jardin, 330 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; phone 440- 5273; www.jardinrestaurant.com. Open for lunch, Tuesday- Friday; dinner, Tuesday- Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday. ¦ ¦ ¦

Down in Northwood Village is the perfect neighborhood spot. Pretend it’s your neighborhood — you’ll be treated as friends from the start at the always reliable Sunset Bar & Grill.

Chef Terry Marince and general manager Matt Reber opened this simple and slightly bohemian restaurant long before others were on the scene in the reborn Northwood Village. It’s flamingo (well, sunset) pink and orange, and has the left-bank vibe going on throughout.

It’s not just about the atmosphere — the foods are noteworthy in the simple, popular choices: steaks off the grill, a blackened fish selection, crab cakes, burgers and wraps, barbecue chicken, and a plethora of salads.

Add house-made daily soups and desserts — and a fair “sunset” menu (2 courses for $20.16), reasonable prices, and a good bartender, and you have success.

It’s a comforting experience to not have to do any heavy lifting at a dinner table.

Sunset Bar and Grill, 2500 Broadway, West Palm Beach; phone 832- 2722; www.eatatsunset.com. Open Tuesday- Saturday for lunch and dinner. ¦ ¦ ¦

For something really special, get in on the chef’s table at the Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island’s 3800 Ocean.

Chef Gustavo Calderon is a bit of a mad scientist and food wizard in the kitchen — his white chocolate coral reef holding up a bed of oysters on their shells with a sea-like foam is inspired plating — and just as tasty. Just one example of many we sampled at a media introduction dinner.

There’s no telling what he’ll put on your plate (unless you direct him to allergies or offenses); just be prepared to be entertained by the kitchen staff the whole time.

Up to five guests can book the counter that serves as the table.

The dinner is a five-course meal — with no dishes taken off the menu. Each menu is designed exclusively for the chef’s table guests.

A 24-hour notice is required to book the table. Cost is $79, plus $45 with wines paired to each course (optional).

If that’s not your pleasure, the restaurant that overlooks the ocean is open daily for a regular menu focused on farm-fresh meats and seafoods as well as vegetarian offerings.

3800 Ocean, in the Marriott Palm Beach Singer Island, 3800 Ocean Blvd., Singer Island; phone 340- 1700; www.marriott.com/ hotel- restaurants/. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. ¦

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