The kitchen at Bistro Ten Zero One, inside the West Palm Beach Marriott Hotel, is turning out delicious, inspired dishes with a strong focus on locally available ingredients – some dishes you’ll enjoy so much, you’ll want to return for them again and again.
Somebody should tell that to the rest of the building.
A place this good ought to be branded and sold to diners. It ought to have an identity beyond your basic hotel café. It deserves that, this bistro.
Chef Chris DeGweck and his team create modern American plates with attention to detail in both seasoning and presentation. Take Bistro’s roasted organic chicken ($16) – it’s no ordinary bird, but a beautifully seasoned and juicy roast chicken served with kale, a sweet potato and caramelized onion hash, sauced in brandied chicken jus. I could order this dish every time.
But then I’d never know the joys of the Palmetto Creek pork chop ($19), tender and nicely seared and served with huckleberries, garden greens and organic blue corn grits. I prefer white or yellow corn grits – with plenty of butter, thank you – and don’t think these blue grits add to the dish more than an element of surprise (or mystery, if you consider our server kept describing them as risotto). But the pork chop is sensational.
Let me rewind for a second to note the starter dishes on both of my visits were sensational as well.
Chef DeGweck, who came up through the Marriott hotel system and most recently worked at the Harbor Beach location in Fort Lauderdale, offers a terrific charcuterie plate of house-cured meats and sausages ($11), cheeses that include locally made Turtle Creek goat cheese, pickles and the best grilled baguette slices around.
The Key West Beer-Battered Brie ($7) is also delicious, melting brie encased in a crispy, beer-infused batter and served with locally made Pascale’s jam (it was strawberry jam on the night of my visit).
But perhaps most addictive are Bistro’s Sea Salt Chips ($5), a brown paper-lined tin piled with hot, homemade, thick-cut potato chips served alongside a smoked bacon and blue cheese fondue. We devoured them before, during and after our main course (our nice server brought us a chip refill). The hot dip also was delicious on that yummy grilled bread, by the way.
The menu here caters to all appetites, offering sharing dishes as starters, soups and salads, small bites (a little larger than tapas-sized, these are lunch-like portions), and larger main plates.
Among the large plates, Bistro serves an outstanding grilled local day boat fish ($16) that reveals the chef’s love of diving. On our most recent visit, the fresh catch was a white, mild tilefish that grilled plump and beautiful, like sea bass. This was served with a wild mushroom farro risotto, braised greens and a handful of meaty mussels out of their shells.
I also sampled a flavorful grilled mahi sandwich ($11), topped with arugula, fennel, tomato and an olive-caper relish.
There’s plenty of red meat to be had at Bistro as well, including a 16-ounce bone-in ribeye ($34) and a grilled skirt steak ($17) that’s served with fried yuca and chimichurri.
To the passing foodie on busy Okeechobee Boulevard, it may be hard to imagine that the two-year-old bistro tucked into the back of the Marriott is producing such good food, most of it grown locally.
With new specials and promotions, Chef DeGweck and team are attempting to get the word out.
Unfortunately, during a couple of visits, I got the sense the kitchen’s praise-worthy work was not echoed in the front of the house, as service lacks continuity and servers lack command of the menu.
Chef Degweck’s dishes, often created with ingredients harvested from the restaurant’s garden, deserve better representation than that.
There’s a reception stand at the entrance, which also is the entrance to Bistro Ten Zero One’s well-attended bar. Although you can enjoy your entire meal at the bar and its tables, the bistro’s main dining room is somewhere several yards away.
The layout is a bit disjointed in its attempt to connect two decidedly different settings, the cozy bar and the larger, more impersonal dining area.
In a way, the layout is a reflection of what this bistro needs most to fully succeed: cohesion in presentation of the concept. The good food here deserves it.
ADDRESS: 1001 Okeechobee Boulevard (in the Marriott), West Palm Beach
PRICE RANGE: Moderate
HOURS: Lunch and dinner served daily from 11 a.m. until midnight
CREDIT CARDS: Major credit cards
RESERVATIONS: Accepted, but walk-ins welcome
DEALS: Tuesdays are “Two for Tuesday,” when parties of two can share 1 appetizer, 2 large plates and a select bottle of wine for $40.
WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes, including restrooms
WHAT THE GRADES MEAN:
A — Excellent
B — Good
C — Average
D — Poor
F — Don’t bother