Kitchen offers up comfort food in cozy space in West Palm Beach

Aliza Byrne lights up the doorway when she welcomes diners to Kitchen, the small bistro she opened with her chef-husband, Matthew Byrne, early last month. A woman of striking, Palm Beach-svelte looks, she greets you in the disarming way of an expert dinner party host welcoming you to her home.

Moments later, you’re catching snippets of often juicy conversation from the adjacent tables (yes, the place is that intimate) and discerning the berry-spice-oak notes in a glass of Hitching Post pinot noir, feeling very much at home.

You may not realize it, but you have hit upon the reason the Byrnes opened Kitchen in the first place – they envisioned the space as an extension of their home and hearth. It’s a tiny, well-utilized space in a small plaza on Belvedere Road near downtown West Palm.

Tiny but not trivial.

There’s nothing trivial about chef Byrne’s approach to ingredient-driven, modern American cooking. Byrne, a former personal chef who spent seven years cooking for golf great Tiger Woods, offers a menu that’s as inspired by the season as it is by his comfort food likings. A simple asparagus appetizer ($14) is made lush with a salty wrapping of prosciutto, a smear of French goat cheese, a poached egg crown and a bed of toasted bread crumbs – meet chef Byrne’s rendition of bacon, eggs and toast.

In his Farmhouse Tomatoes salad ($13), he offers a composition of locally grown, hydroponic heirloom tomatoes with fresh burrata cheese, arugula, basil, balsamic vinegar and virgin olive oil. The best part of the salad: The chef makes no attempt to manipulate its stellar ingredients.

Among entrée options of sumptuous duck ragout atop fettuccine, seared diver scallops with creamy bacon-accented Brussels sprouts, and filet of beef with tomato-blue cheese salad, you’ll find the Kitchen Burger ($18), a loaded-to-the-hilt burger of three cuts of meat (brisket, grass-fed chuck and short ribs), luxed up foie gras and caramelized onions.

“It’s a manly burger. It’s for a big appetite,” offered our genial, well-informed server. Indeed, but I can think of quite a few ladies who might love this beast as well.

Kitchen does offer options for the portion-conscious – there’s a simply grilled fish served with charred lemon (market price), a seared salmon with corn-leek risotto ($28) and the Simple Chicken with garlic spinach ($24). But my eyes skipped past those options and landed on the dish touted as the chef’s favorite: a buttery chicken schnitzel ($26) topped with a seasoned tangle of arugula and sweet onion and a gorgeous fried egg.

That egg breaks over the lightly acidic greens, finding an echo of richness in the crispy cutlet. Never mind that the well-heeled diners at the adjacent table are exploring topics from world travels to cocktail parties to the social anxieties of acquaintances – you’re having schnitzel with a fried egg on top and it tastes like home.

You’re having such a nice time, in fact, that you order a homemade pumpkin crème brulee ($9) for dessert and savor its whispers of fall.

In the end, if you were to be absolutely brutal, you might take another look at the menu and decide that it may be too simple to truly challenge the chef. But then you realize this simplicity is deceiving when you consider the menu will change regularly and that even the simplest dishes here have considerable nuance.

Besides, you’ve eaten too darn well to entertain any such thought.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Food

Steam Horse Brewing opens in  West Palm’s Warehouse District
Steam Horse Brewing opens in  West Palm’s Warehouse District

Like the frothy head on a pint of European lager, Steam Horse Brewing adds a crowning touch to West Palm Beach’s burgeoning Warehouse District. The urban dining and lifestyle complex that includes Grandview Public Market welcomes the craft beer brewery and bar Wednesday, Aug. 15.  And thanks to the brewery’s north county...
Jewish Food Society recalls picnic recipes from the Soviet Union
Jewish Food Society recalls picnic recipes from the Soviet Union

For a Jewish Food Society newsletter, Sasha Shor — the nonprofit’s chef-in-residence this summer — has recalled the picnics that her family, which emigrated from Russia to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1978, would enjoy in the Smoky Mountains.Specialties included cold beet borscht, cabbage salad, radish salad, grilled lamb shish kebabs...
Some college students go to class hungry

As students enter college this fall, many will hunger for more than knowledge: Surprising numbers report that they are not getting enough to eat or were worried about it, according to published studies. "Food insecurity," as it's called, is most prevalent at community colleges, but it's also found at public and private four-year schools....
Pulse Drinking: H. Mynors 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel is made for grilling and chilling
Pulse Drinking: H. Mynors 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel is made for grilling and chilling

Uncork a bottle of H. Mynors 2014 Old Vine Zinfandel with some friends. It’s as close as you can get to a can’t-miss summer wine. At $16.99, you better pick up two bottles. You might not have any left in your glass before you get the grill lit. You don’t have to rack your brain on the perfect food pairing either. Just grill and chill...
Add flavor and save money by infusing your own vinegar, booze and more
Add flavor and save money by infusing your own vinegar, booze and more

Laugh if you must, but one of my fondest memories of my honeymoon is visiting an olive oil and vinegar shop and tasting as many flavors as I wanted. This was about a decade ago, before I really got into food and before "artisan" was a catchy byword. As fun as it was tossing back shots of raspberry balsamic vinegar, the habit wasn't sustainable...
More Stories