Where Chef Daniel Boulud Eats and Drinks in Palm Beach
From seafood and pasta to his family's favorite gelato shop
There’s still plenty of Lilly Pulitzer in the Palm Beaches, but it’s no longer the stuffy, bourgeois enclave of old. Coinciding with a pandemic-fueled population boom, the culinary scene in Palm Beach has exploded right alongside it, with dozens of new restaurants opening in the past few years. New York transplants like Le Bilboquet, Sadelle’s and Estiatorio Milos have flocked here, seeing great opportunity with the year-round al fresco climate and influx of New Yorkers and New Jerseyans.
Daniel Boulud is no newcomer: He was the reigning celebrity chef in Palm Beach when he opened Café Boulud in 2003. I recently had a chance to chat with him at the Palm Beach Food & Wine Festival, following a decadent brunch he hosted at the Brazilian Court Hotel. PBF&WF, held every year the weekend after Art Basel, is a welcome respite following the wild freneticism of the Miami art fair. Boulud’s event highlighted local chefs like Pushkar Marathe from Stage Kitchen, who served yellowfin tuna bombs in semolina puri and mushroom Gruyère dosas; along with the Grand Tasting finale, it’s a terrific way to take in the quickly evolving food scene here.
“When I arrived in Palm Beach, there were a couple of French restaurants, like Chez Jean-Pierre, and some Italian, but it was just the beginning,” Boulud says. “Things have grown so much in the last five years, and many chefs are coming from northern cities to open new locations here. We’ll see how long they last though,” he adds with a chuckle. “See if they can last 20 years.”
Boulud makes frequent visits to Palm Beach between December and March. Here are his favorite places to dine with his family and friends when he’s in town.
“I usually eat here 75% of the time because my schedule is so packed. You might find me walking around the kitchen and making a tasting plate of all the new and seasonal dishes. My wife, Katherine, loves the hotel room service at Brazilian Court. She calls it some of the best in the world. You can order Café Boulud right to your room and enjoy it on your private terrace.
“At lunch, I try to eat healthy and gravitate toward the lobster roll and Cobb salad — I love our Cobb salad. Maybe with some ceviche or crudo, which are always light and tasty. Dieter, our chef, works directly with local fishermen along the Florida coast, so the fish is always very fresh.”
“I like to visit here with my family during the day. The Breakers has a great poolside kids’ menu. It’s very rare to find mahi tacos on a kids’ menu — and my kids actually enjoy them! At night, Katherine and I will go to HMF. We love the food at the bar. If you want sushi, you can have sushi; if you want wings, you can have wings. It’s a place to have something light with your cocktail.”
“Marcello [Fiorentino] and his team are like family. The wine is exceptional, and they have an incredible cellar. If we are going to drink Italian wine, they know how to point us in the right direction. He does a wonderful spaghetti vongole and langoustines. I’ll go for a pasta and a good bottle of wine any day. Marcello’s daughter Sabrina is also an alum of Café Boulud, as a pastry chef, and now she works in a little bakery just down the street.”
“Jeremy [Bearman] worked at DB Bistro in New York, and his menu here is mostly fish and seafood. Desserts here are great too because his wife is the pastry chef. We worked a long time together, and he’s very well trained. I tasted his red snapper ceviche today — last year he went to Peru and was inspired to do ceviche. That was just a wonderful treatment of seafood.”
“Rick [Mace] was with us for a long time as executive chef at Café Boulud and always had a passion for barbecue. One day, a customer from Texas sent me a big barbecue smoker to New York, and we can’t use a smoker in New York City. I had nowhere to put it, so I sent it to Rick in Palm Beach, and he put it to use. Little did I know he would open his own barbecue place. He does amazing beef short ribs and pork ribs, and the chicken is also very good.”
“This is on Via Mizner, and it’s nice because it’s delicious and handy for after dinner. We will take our children there, and it’s open a little later for Palm Beach, until 9 p.m. It’s a fun walk with the kids. For me it’s always pistachio and raspberry, or maybe chocolate and coffee; it depends what they have. I’ll only do two flavors at once, but my kids will have several scoops.”
“I’m a big fan of Mauro Colagreco’s cuisine. I’m also a partner with the Four Seasons in Toronto, and so I always like to support them. Palm Beach is so lucky to have the American Cote d’Azur on their doorstep. It’s a beautiful place!
“We like to stop here after work to have a bite. It’s a gathering place where you will run into everyone you know. It’s a favorite among the industry. Typical for Palm Beach, people hop around during the night, but you’re bound to see them here at some point. They do very well with everything off the grill, but I don’t really order; they bring me food. Chef Clay [Conley] is a local celebrity as well. I knew him when he was working in Miami.”
“This is a great, multi-generational place to have dinner because it’s got options for everyone. There are classic Italian freshly-made pastas, wood-fired thin crust pizza and coastal Mediterranean seafood. Everyone can find something they like.”
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