Everyone knows Palm Beach is the cold-weather playground for America’s rich and powerful. Just down the road a bit from the Winter White House, Mar-A-Lago, are the quaint luxury retail shops and gourmet restaurants in this resort hamlet. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited to dinner at a lovely restaurant called Buccan, as a late holiday get-together.
I put on a festive shirt and drove up to Palm Beach County for what turned out to be an awe inspiring evening! When we arrived, we valeted the car and entered the elegant yet understated lobby bar to have a drink with our friends until our table was readied. Even though we were hobnobbing with the social elite, we felt very comfortable and welcomed by the gracious staff. Ruth Madoff sat two chairs over holding her dog, as we lounged on the sofa, sipped our martinis and chatted with each other. This is definitely the kind of place you might run into everyone from an old friend from Ft. Lauderdale, to a celebrity or even one of Trump’s kids!
Buccan specializes in small plates. Since we were a group of five, we ordered a little of everything in multiple courses and paired each with Champagne and wines from the extensive list that would enthrall even the most experienced Sommelier. We were seated at a large, round table and greeted by our server, who turned out to be very knowledgeable both about the cuisine and the wine list.
We began with an assortment of oysters on the half shell…Wianno (my all-time favorite from my days working at Morton’s) and Malpaque. The clean and flavorful oysters paired well with the bubbly selected by our host.
Next, we moved on to delicious Ahi Tuna with fish “vin” served on wonton crisps with bed of avocado. Hearty Short Rib Empanadas were delightfully plated with salsa criollo and aji Amarillo, a Peruvian yellow chili pepper. A whimsical Hot Dog Panini with sauerkraut, gruyere cheese and mustard rounded out the variety of appetizers. We washed it all down with crisp glass of Pinot Grigio.
Our third course included one of my new obsession: Vietnamese Octopus Salad, tossed with peanuts, roasted carrot and a sweet and spicy Vietnamese condiment called Nuoc cham. Succulent jumbo shrimp sautéed in Scampi sauce were a delight, served on grilled bread with arugula. Warm Brussels Sprouts replace romaine in an original Caesar salad offering, topped with a Parmesan crisp and white anchovy filet.
Although the menu mostly consist of sharable items, Buccan does offer several full sized “Chef’s Selection” entrees to tantalize your taste buds including Florida Snapper and local Swordfish. We ordered up the Prime NY Strip Au Poivre, a green peppercorn sauce, served with an orgasmic side of celery root gratin and garlic spinach. We supplemented our steak with the Maccarones Carbonara… ravioli stuffed with maitake mushrooms, finished with crispy bits of ham, peas and Parmesan cheese…both superb!
After that delicious feast, we could not leave without dessert. A square of Key Lime pie topped with elegantly toasted meringue and a side of coconut ice cream and an order of beignets with chocolate and caramel sauce for dipping were a hit as we sipped on individual French press coffees.
Buccan is located at 350 South Country Road in Palm Beach, Florida and is open for dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5pm to 10pm and Friday and Saturday 5pm to 11pm. Happy Hour is offered from 4pm to 6pm weekdays. Be sure to check out lunch at the Buccan Sandwich Shop located just next door, featuring hot and cold sandwiches, salads and homemade desserts. Reservations are highly recommended.