- Liz Balmaseda Palm Beach Post Food Editor
I know the menu at The Honor Bar like the back of my hand. No great feat – one could write the full menu on the back of one’s hand. Eight snacks and sides. Five sandwiches. One omelet. Three salads. Plus a minimalist selection of cocktails, wine and beer. That’s all she wrote.
But let’s not confuse spare with lacking. The offerings at Hillstone’s newest tenant at The Royal Poinciana plaza in Palm Beach are part of a thoughtfully assembled menu of satisfying pub grub, from burrata on toast served with wood-roasted tomatoes and herbs ($14) to a signature burger that’s topped with white cheddar and spicy slaw ($16) to a crispy chicken sandwich that’s served torta-style.
The menu items may sound casual enough, but they are delivered with the same crisp, attentive service that’s the hallmark of Hillstone restaurants, such as Honor Bar’s older sibling next door, Palm Beach Grill. If you’re a PB Grill fan, you’ll recognize the easy balance at play in The Honor Bar: casual yet premium dishes served with panache in an intimate, bustling space.
Unlike PB Grill, The Honor Bar serves walk-ins only in a space lined with dark woods and deep leather banquettes. This is where we settled in on a recent Sunday for more than a few shared plates. The kitchen’s talents were evident from the first, simplest bites – then again, the kitchen is in the hands of Palm Beach Grill’s accomplished executive chef, Andrew Schor. In fact, the restaurants share a kitchen.
A dip duo of respectable guacamole and a pimento cheese spread (described on the menu as “jalapeño-queso”) arrived with a judicious amount of warm tortilla chips ($13) to fix our late-lunch pangs. At another chain spot, this might have been one of those dull, overblown and bottomless chips-and-dip bowls. But less was more at Honor Bar, where the chips proved to be crispy and plenty. Ditto for the dish of deviled eggs, a quintet of generously stuffed egg halves tangy with pickle relish ($10).
A plate heaped with crispy shoestring fries arrived at our table with three dipping sauces ($6) to accompany our entrees. They were addictive and seemingly endless. But they were not the most delicious bite of the day – that distinction goes to the French dip au jus ($22), mounds of supremely tender, thinly sliced prime rib stuffed into buttery, lightly toasted, homemade French rolls. A light smear of bold horseradish sauce on the bread enhanced the meatiness of the bite. The swoon moment, however, happened when that bread-horseradish-meat combo was dipped into the small saucer of beef jus. I’ve often called a well-assembled BLT the perfect sandwich. But that was before I had the French dip at The Honor Bar.
Less sensational but satisfying was the Macho Salad ($19), an ample toss of roasted chicken and greens dotted with avocado chunks, corn, toasted almonds, chopped dates and dollops of creamy, French-style goat cheese. It’s a salad that hits earthy, nutty and darkly sweet notes.
There’s a kale salad with rotisserie chicken that caught my eye. Our server, an efficient and genial guy, delivered it to the wrong table (ours), so I got a good look at it before he spirited it away: a well-tossed dish of emerald kale, shredded chicken and fresh herbs in a roasted peanut vinaigrette ($19). It was gorgeous and a dish I plan to try on a future visit.
Don’t hold the fact that he brought us someone else’s salad against our server. He apologized and refused to blame the kitchen. He didn’t skip a beat.
If there’s something you can expect at Honor Bar, it’s good service. Here’s what you won’t get here:
This may be a chain restaurant – there are Honor Bars in Beverly Hills, Dallas and Montecito – but it feels unique. And it offers something its popular sibling restaurant next door does not: lunch service. For that and many other reasons, the cozy, sophisticated bar is all the buzz at the plaza and beyond.
WHAT THE GRADES MEAN:
A — Excellent
B — Good
C — Average
D — Poor
F — Don’t bother