At the Table newsletter: Milestones big + small, plus a tapas bar so nice they named it twice

·4 min read
Flashback to 2007: Chef/owner Mike Moir stands outside of Little Moir's Food Shack in Jupiter. The restaurant opened in 2002.
Flashback to 2007: Chef/owner Mike Moir stands outside of Little Moir's Food Shack in Jupiter. The restaurant opened in 2002.

Dining world milestones, big and small

Little Moir’s Food Shack, chef Mike Moir’s iconic, seafood-loving restaurant, celebrated its 20th anniversary this week. The funky spot, which brought island vibes and ocean-fresh dishes to a Jupiter strip plaza, has more than its longevity to celebrate. Its success has much to do with Moir’s vision and the free-flowing kitchen he built at that plaza. All ideas are welcome, all talents nurtured. His kitchen has sparked other restaurants, propelled other chefs (including Coolinary’s Tim Lipman) and created a culinary family. All the above was clear to me when I reported this profile on Moir 10 years ago. It has remained true as I’ve chatted with him through the years, most recently about his new seafood market café, Hibiscus Streatery. Big congrats to the Little Moir’s family.

Le Poulet Cajun is the specialty dish at Le Bilboquet. The French bistro with New York roots opened at 247 Worth Ave. on Feb. 2, 2021.
Le Poulet Cajun is the specialty dish at Le Bilboquet. The French bistro with New York roots opened at 247 Worth Ave. on Feb. 2, 2021.

Speaking of anniversaries, Le Bilboquet celebrates its first on Palm Beach this weekend. The French bistro with New York Upper East Side roots remains one of the island’s most fashionable spots, bringing its share of luminaries to Via Encantada on Worth Avenue. On a recent night, we spotted the noted art collector and 60s-era Andy Warhol muse Jane “Baby Jane” Holzer dining with author and fellow Warhol friend Bob Colacello. That was nearly as special as the bistro’s signature dish, Le Poulet Cajun ($38), tender chicken breasts sliced upon a light but decadent beurre blanc sauce, served with crispy frites and greens.

Sassafras restaurant opened in November 2019 in downtown West Palm Beach.
Sassafras restaurant opened in November 2019 in downtown West Palm Beach.

And there was big news for three Palm Beach County restaurants that made Yelp’s “Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S.” list. It’s even splashier news when you consider that only five Florida restaurants made the list compiled by the crowd-sourced review and reservations site. Best loved locally among Yelpers were The Wine Room Kitchen & Bar in Delray Beach (No. 31 of 100), the artsy Dada in Delray Beach (No. 46) and the hip downtown Southern spot Sassafras in West Palm Beach (No. 56). Other Florida nods went to Shunk Gulley Oyster Bar in Santa Rosa Beach (No. 65) and Covey Kitchen in Gainesville (No. 69).

How did Yelp come up with this Miami-less list? According to the “Top 100” list page and Yelp’s West Palm Beach community manager Melodie Malfa, the site asks its members to submit their favorite dining spots, then Yelp’s data science team ranks them by sifting the total number of submissions, member reviews, ratings, geographic representation and other factors.

Says Malfa: “I feel that Dada, Sassafras and The Wine Room Kitchen and Bar have created inviting environments, memorable food and drinks, and accessible, affordable experiences.”

Tapas are served at the Jamón Jamón food-hall bar, which specializes in fine hams and cheeses in Delray Beach
Tapas are served at the Jamón Jamón food-hall bar, which specializes in fine hams and cheeses in Delray Beach

Good Bite: no ordinary sliced ham

For all the dining-scene action in downtown Delray Beach, sometimes it’s not as easy as it may seem to grab a simple weekend bite. Between the crowds and iffy parking, settling in at a table may require a mission. I speak from recent experience.

But I’m sure that morning's false starts were the universe’s way of leading me to Jamón Jamón, the new free-standing tapas bar located inside the 10-month-old Delray Beach Market food hall. (The bar is a sister business to the adjacent Cellar and Pantry gourmet shop.)

Moments after parking – a breeze in the attached garage, where you can pay via parking app – I was seated beneath a canopy of Ibérico hams from Spain and a concise, varied menu that caused my heart to leap. In what seemed like a blink of time, the bar server delivered a dish of Spanish queso curado ($6), aged sheep’s milk cheese served with a wedge of quince paste, fried Marcona almonds and mini-breadsticks. To pair, she suggested a crisp verdejo wine from north-central Spain.

Then came the most ethereal serving of Italian culatello ham ($12), presented simply as waves of thin shavings on a white plate. There was so much flavor in those wispy slices that it sparked a conversation with my bar server about how one can taste the sense of place in each bite.

The culatello is one of various hams – like the famed Spanish Pata Negra Jamón Ibérico and the American Heritage Berkshire smoked and aged country ham – served at the bar. Each order arrives with a side of Spanish-inspired pan tumaca ($3 if ordered separately), warm, lightly toasted local sourdough slices rubbed with roasted garlic and fresh tomato puree. Stacked with ham or topped with cheese or savored on its own, this tomato toast alone will bring me back to Jamón Jamón. (Inside the Delray Beach Market, at 33 SE 3rd Ave.)

Have a delicious weekend!

Liz Balmaseda

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Newsletter: A tapas bar so nice they named it twice

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting