Tag Archives: ambiance

Table 26 – West Palm Beach, FL: A MUST For Anyone in the Area

Well, here I am back in CT after a fabulously relaxing and enjoyable vacation with my family down in West Palm Beach. While I was down there, in addition to relaxing, I made sure to meet up with a couple of my friends from my MasterChef family. After paying a visit with Penny Suzuki and Drew Rosenthal, it reminded me of what an amazing experience being on the show really was. Alright, I am sure you are wondering what this has to do with Table 26, the answer… Everything. When Drew and I met up he told me of one of his new favorite restaurants in the area, and naturally, 2 nights later, I made my reservation and had to try it. And I am beyond happy I did, not only was it the best meal I had while I was down in Florida, but it was simply an all around great meal. The food, the presentation, the atmosphere, the service, everything was phenomenal. Located at 1700 South Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach, FL, Table 26 is a must visit if you are anywhere near the area. It will be worth the trip. Let’s start with the atmosphere and service:

This intimate restaurant is definitely the kind of place where you NEED to make a reservation. It has about 15 tables and a bar inside (with great specialty drinks and an extensive wine list. I had a wonderful glass of Malbec), as well as a few tables out on a patio. I meant to ask if there were a total of 26 tables, but completely forgot to. Either way, each table is lit with a beautiful sand anchored candle (pictured above) to remind you that you are in Florida and by the beach. Beautifully simple artwork lines the walls. Also, despite the fact that the restaurant is smaller, it is still spacious. Wisely so, Table 26 does not try to pack too many tables into their space, even though I am sure they would be filled if they did. Instead there is plenty of room for your party to enjoy the meal and conversation without being elbow to elbow with your dining neighbor. That being said, as described before, the setting is intimate. So the dining room, while constantly abuzz with talk of the amazing food, also still allows for easy conversation. As for the service, I was beyond impressed. This restaurant is just barely 2 months in. I have worked in restaurants for 12 years, including being a part of the opening staff for a few. Usually, it takes some time for the machine to start running smoothly. This was not the case at Table 26. The service staff was attentive and knowledgeable without being overbearing. My water was never empty, we were checked on with each course to make sure everything was cooked to our liking, and whenever I had a question for my server about the food or the restaurant, she was ready with the answer. The food came out a steady pace, and always fresh. This machine runs smoothly at two months, I can’t wait to see where they will be in a year. I know one of the goals for the near future is opening for lunch, and I have no doubts that they can do that without losing a step. Ok… Now onto the most important part, the food!

We were started off with two different types of freshly baked a bread: A cheddar bread (on the left) and a wheat bread (on the right), both of which were warm, fluffy, and delicious. In addition to butter, you also see above a dish of eggplant “caviar” (basically an herb and seasoned eggplant puree). Most of you who know me, know that eggplant and I usually do not gel because of the texture, but in this puree, that issues was eliminated and it was fabulous. The we moved on to our appetizers, a Maryland Style Lump Crab Cake and Blackened Shrimp over Sweet Corn Grits with a Tomato Confit.

First off, just look at the plating (something we all found out is not my specialty). The dishes look beautiful. And they tasted even better. I make it well known that I very rarely order “Maryland Style Crab Cakes” outside of Maryland because having lived in Baltimore for 4 years, usually it simply does not live up to its name. That was not the case here. Notice the huge chunks of crab held together by basically nothing else. Most crab cakes end up using so much bread and filling that you lose the natural buttery sweetness of the crab… Not at Table 26. This crab cake is just what it is supposed to be, CRAB! With a lemongrass butter sauce and a bit of Cajun seasoning, it is not Baltimore “Style” it is straight up out of Baltimore. Then we get to what was possibly my favorite part of the meal, the blackened shrimp appetizer. Not only were the shrimp flavorful and perfectly cooked, but this is one of those dishes where while each component is delicious on its own, when you get that perfect bite of everything together, it is simply magic. The spice and char of the shrimp, combined with the creamy sweetness of the corn grits, finished with the rich decadence and acidity of the tomato confit… the flavors just play off each other so well. To be fair, I am yet to find anything confit that I do not like, but that is besides the point. The point is, this dish was well thought out, well executed, and enjoyed thoroughly, leading perfectly into out entrees: a Double Cut Pork Chop served with warm applesauce and a chorizo & jicama potato salad, and a Beef Short Rib Stroganoff.

Starting with the pork chop, which was perfectly cooked with a wonderful sear and glaze on the outside. The chop itself was juicy and well seasoned, the applesauce rivaled (but did not top) my mom’s homemade applesauce (There really is nothing better than my mom’s applesauce), the asparagus was crisp, fresh, and flavorful, but the star of this dish in my opinion are the potatoes. The first thing I tasted when the entrees came was the potato, and it was also the last thing I tasted. In my opinion, the potatoes are the pure representation of what the entire menu at Table 26 accomplishes: taking rustic classics and using fresh and different ingredients, herbs, and spices to make it something special. Not only did everything pair well together, but they also transported you back to the rustic family meals of childhood. That is what these potatoes and the applesauce did for me, bring me back to wonderful memories of family dinners growing up while still intriguing and satisfying my much more adult and complicated palate. Onto the Stroganoff. This dish was my wild card pick for the evening, not knowing what to expect, and I would recommend it anyone. The egg noodles were cooked to a perfect al dente, the gravy was thick, rich, and flavorful without being overpowering (something that is often overlooked, but like any pasta dish, the sauce can make or break it, and this one makes it), and most importantly, the short rib, in addition to allowing the flavor of the beef to speak for itself, was so tender it fell apart at the touch of my fork. This was the dish my friend Drew told me I would not be disappointed in, and he was right. I will be back, and I will be ordering this again. Another item I will be ordering again, is dessert! This time around we got the Strawberry Shortcake.

There is a saying when it comes to cooking that we oh so often forget and take for granted… “KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!” That is because there is something to be said for the simple elegance of letting ingredients speak for themselves. This dessert does just that. It is simple: Nothing more than a wonderfully fresh baked shortbread, glazed strawberries, and vanilla ice cream with a leaf of fresh mint, but it does not need anything more. The salty, sweet buttery shortbread, combined with ripe glazed fresh strawberries, and that smooth vanilla cream creates a refreshing and simple end to a fantastic meal. Instead of feeling weighed down after such a hearty, rustic meal, this dessert is weightless (although I am sure enough of it would still add a few pounds to your waist line). I can not wait to try the other house-made desserts Table 26 has to offer. Speaking of house-made desserts, allow me to introduce you to the wonderful people who prepared this meal.

First up, Executive Chef Steven Polowy (pictured with me above). Steven was nice enough to come out after the meal to talk with me about the restaurant, the food, his background, and the background of how Table 26 came to be. A graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, Steven definitely showed me that he and his wife know how to prepare fantastic, innovative food. That’s right, I said, “and his wife”! Steven’s wife Jo Polowy, also a graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, is the Pastry Chef at Table 26 and the mastermind behind the delicately flavorful shortcake I am now so fond of (Jo, I will be asking for the recipe at some point… Hopefully, after you’ve been open for a bit, you will allow me the secrets of at least that one). Plus, since they both went to school and lived up in New England, we were able to talk about the transition down to Florida (something that I must admit, I would be open to, even though I love the cold and Winter and Autumn) Thank you both once again for sharing the restaurant, your food, and your stories with me. Be sure to check out the entirety of the Table 26 menu for a taste of what they have to offer. Then… CALL TO MAKE A RESERVATION!!! (561)855-2660. In addition to their website you can also find Table 26 and like them on facebook or follow them on twitter @table26palmbch for their latest news.

So if I were to leave you with one thought about Table 26 it would be this: Great food can have a magical quality that transports you to another place, another time, a memory, or a fantasy… If you want to share in that experience, go out and try Table 26… then try it again. Thank you again to Steven, Jo, and the entire team at Table 26 for an evening I will not be forgetting.

Table 26 Palm Beach on Urbanspoon

Until next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur signing off.

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A Very MaurPowerFoodie Mother’s Day… Texas De Brazil – Yonkers, NY

One thing I can certainly say is I would never have accomplished any of the things I have (earning the rank of Eagle Scout, graduating from a top university, graduating law school, passing the bar exam, becoming a top 100 contestant on MasterChef, etc.) without my Mother, Bonnie Maur. I owe a lot to her, and can never thank her enough. Included in the things I owe her for are my love of food and ability to cook. In raising me along with my two siblings, my mom taught us all to cook. She thought it was necessary for us to be able to feed ourselves (definitely a lesson I am glad I learned). My love of food and cooking may have taken on a path of its own over the years, but my culinary journey never would have started without my mother. Here we are together with my sister, all swimming with dolphins:

Now that I have gotten all the mushy, yet necessary stuff out of the way, back to the food we go. This year for Mother’s Day, my sister and I took our mom to Texas de Brazil in Yonkers, NY. My mom had been to one in Florida and loved it, so when one opened up relatively close to us, it only seemed like the natural choice for Mother’s Day. Texas De Brazil is a churrascaria (Brazilian Grille), which is one of my favorite types of restaurants as an avid meat eater. For those of you who have never been to one, basically the servers/carvers (Gauchos) walk around to your table with different cuts of meats on a sword and carve each one fresh for you… all you can eat. Plus there is always a loaded appetizer/salad bar.

I am not one to comment much on ambiance, but this time it is definitely noteworthy. The restaurant is beautiful. Warm, welcoming colors, beautiful artwork, and a gorgeous bouquet above the salad bar. Here… take a look:

Then add to this a fully stocked stylish bar out front and a beautiful windowed wine “cellar”, with a wine list that is more like a wine library. The cellar even reminds me of a library with a rolling ladder that allows the servers to search through the massive collection to get just the right bottle for you. In fact, this picture only shows 1 side of the massive windowed “cellar”. The decor and general feel of Texas de Brazil… absolutely stunning.

Alright, onto the food! I promise this time. Let’s start with the start of the meal, the appetizer/salad bar(items are subject to change). THIS IS NOT YOUR EVERY DAY SALAD BAR! Yes there is salad with all the toppings, but there are also four different homemade dressings. Plus, an oh so creamy and rich Lobster Bisque. You know what, I just need to list some of the brightest points, as I could spend forever going through each item.  Ok, here goes: sliced prosciutto and salami, Gorgonzola and grape salad, tabbouleh, crab sushi, ahi tuna, buffalo mozzarella, goat cheese terrine, smoked salmon, potatoes au gratin, multiple freshly baked breads, and much more. Plus, anywhere that has a beautiful Parmesan cheese wheel for me to pick from… love. Here is just a sampling of the salad bar:

While the salad bar was great and delicious, the stars of the show, as it should be at any churrascaria, were the meats, carved table-side.  Not only was there a huge variety in different cuts of meats, but each one had its own unique flavor. First off here is the list of meats: Filet mignon, bacon wrapped filet mignon, braised beef ribs, rack of lamb, garlic-marinated picanha (top sirloin tips, their signature), pork ribs, Brazilian picanha, Brazilian sausage, leg of lamb, bacon wrapped chicken breast, Parmesan crusted chicken, Parmesan crusted pork loin, flank steak, herb-marinated pork loin, and Brazilian alcatra (top sirloin).

Leg of LambFlank Steak

Leg of Lamb                                               Flank Steak

Bacon-wrapped Filet Mignon

Bacon-wrapped Filet Mignon


Yes, I did try everything, and there is not a single cut of meat I would not recommend trying. That being said, not everyone can finish off 15 different cuts of meats in one sitting, so let me highlight a few favorites. The alcatra is a must, great seasoning, juicy, tender, fatty, and delicious. I also am an avid lover of flank steak, and this ranked up near the top of flank steaks I have had at restaurants.  Also, I was surprisingly impressed with one item I tend not to prefer at churrascarias, the bacon-wrapped chicken. I know you would think I would always love this item, but it is usually on the dry side. Not at Texas De Brazil, the chicken breast remained tender and juicy, just the way it should be. And finally, my two favorites of the day: Coming in second place, with a surprise pack of flavor, juicy and tender interior, and the perfect casings… the Brazilian Sausage. And for first place, it was not even a contest. There was one cut of meat that was so fall off the bone, melt in your mouth, fill you with joy in every bite, scrumptious, well prepared, well seasoned morsel, that I had 4 servings of it. The BRAISED BEEF RIBS!!!! **Crowd Cheers**

Brazilian AlcatraBrazilian Sausage

Brazilian Alcatra                                   Brazilian Sausage

Braised Beef Ribs

Braised Beef Ribs

Finally we come to dessert, and I have to be honest, this was the closest thing to a weakness I found at Texas de Brazil. They were good, but did not live up to the rest of the meal, which was actually ok in my book, because let’s be honest, I did not go there for dessert, and if it were not for a Mother’s Day special which included dessert in the cost of the meal, I probably would not have saved room for dessert anyways. We tried three different desserts: Brazilian Cheese Cake, Coconut Chess Pie, and Caramel Flan (A must be good staple at any Brazilian restaurant in my opinion. First up was the cheesecake. This was good with a caramel sauce on top, chopped walnuts, and a layer of chocolate at the bottom. Nothing special, but enjoyable. The one that we really wanted to try, cause we had never had it before was the Coconut Chess Pie, and unfortunately, it was quite simply too sweet. The pie is filled with a layer of warm custard cream, tons of coconut, and then topped with vanilla ice cream. The custard was the downfall of this dessert, as it was so rich, and so sweet, I could only stand a spoonful of this one. If you like extreme sweets, go for it, but if you are looking for a light way to end a heavy meals, this is not the right choice. However, not all was lost. The flan was delicious. Light, flavorful, and just the right way to leave my last bite at Texas De Brazil.

Brazilian Cheese CakeCaramel Flan

While the desserts may not have lived up to the rest of the meal, they also would not in any way deter me from going back. In fact I am sure I will be back many a time and soon.

Overall, I would highly recommend giving Texas de Brazil a try. Located at 1 Ridge Hill Blvd.; Yonkers, NY 10710, there is also some wonderful shopping available right around the restaurant perfect for a leisurely stroll after the large meal. For reservations please call (914) 652-9660 or check out their website at http://www.texasdebrazil.com/yonkers. The restaurant also has a beautiful closed off portion of the dining room perfect for private events pictured below:

I hope you enjoy Texas de Brazil as much as I did. Take a trip and let me know what you think. Special thanks to Colleen for showing me around and to the whole staff at Texas de Brazil for a fabulous Mother’s Day with my family.

Texas de Brazil Churrascaria on Urbanspoon

Till next time, this is Jason “MaurPowerFoodie” Maur, signing off.