South Florida may not be blessed with four distinct seasons of the year, but our seasons do declare themselves. Especially summer, which began at 6:34 p.m. Monday. Summer thunders in (no metaphor there) with an attitude.
You know it’s summer when your hair stages a revolt, when your overworked blender threatens to strike, when your Google search terms include “gazpacho recipes” and “easy gelato” and “frozen margarita.”
You know it’s summer when every place in town rolls out a prix fixe deal. Even your palate knows to expect a different taste at summer. What does summer taste like? It tastes of key lime pies and mango shakes, coconut lotion with notes of pool chlorine.
Summer tastes of vacation – even if you’re stuck at work and it’s someone else’s vacation that inspires you to dream.
Here’s a summer buffet of dining experiences across Palm Beach County.
Two local eateries are offering all-you-can-eat mussel nights this summer.
At Chez l’Epicier in Palm Beach, the Thursday night mussel special includes endless servings of Prince Edward Island mussels and French fries. Those mussels are prepared any of four ways: with spicy tomato sauce (arrabbiata), with white wine, shallot and garlic sauce, with Dijon mustard sauce or with blue cheese sauce. The mussel special costs $22 per person (no sharing).
Other summertime specials at the stylish spot include a three-course prix fixe ($30 per person), and half-price rosé and other wine (up to $200 per bottle) on Sundays.
Across the bridge in downtown West Palm Beach, Pistache celebrates Moules Mondays – that’s all-you-can-slurp mussels (with the purchase of one entrée), prepared in a variety of ways.
The popular bistro also runs a “Wine Down Wednesdays” special, offering half-off bottles of wine (with entrée purchase), 20 percent off reserve wine and Champagne.
Chez l’Epicier: 288 S. County Road, Palm Beach; 561- 508-7030; palmbeach.chezlepicier.com
Pistache: 101 North Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-833-5090; PistacheWPB.com
Beach shack vibes
PB Catch in Palm Beach has brought back its beachy, Northeast shore theme this summer by transforming its sleek bar and lounge space into “The Shack.” Expect summer drinks and seaside-inspired bites.
The space will be put to tasty use this Saturday when it hosts a Spanish-style paella night, complete with sangria and flamenco guitarist Bob Folse. The paella party starts at 7 .m. Reservations are suggested.
PB Catch: 251 Sunrise Ave., Palm Beach; 561-655-5558; PBCatch.com
The south county eateries of Rapoport’s Restaurant Group kick off a summer beer dinner series featuring Sam Adams brews on Thursday.
The “Must Love Beer” monthly summer dinners start at Deck 84 in Delray Beach this week, then bounce to Burt & Max’s in suburban Delray on July 20, to Henry’s (Delray) on Aug. 24, to Bogart’s (Boca Raton) on Sept. 14, and back to Deck 84 for an Oktoberfest finale event in October.
A Samuel Adams cicerone will pour a range of exclusive releases and favorite brews with each of four courses.
This week’s beer dinner costs $45 per person (plus tax and tip). Prices for the remainder of the dinners have not been announced. For reservations, call Brittany Kilian at 561-826-1791, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Party on deck
The new West Palm Beach Hilton is hosting Friday night summer parties at Galley, the hotel’s bar and lounge. Expect a selection of tapas, retro cocktails, live music and fire pit action.
And those tapas? They’ll be hot off the custom-built grill otherwise known as Christine.
Hilton West Palm Beach: 600 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; 561-231-6000
Salads and sangria
Salute Market in Palm Beach Gardens has kicked off a seasonal menu that promises to cool the swelter.
Cool eats include gazpacho, lime-spritzed watermelon-feta salad, and berry salad. Cool sips include a trio of sangrias – traditional, peach-pineapple and strawberry-basil.
Salute Market: 5530 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561-425-5651; Salute2U.com
There’s no such thing as boring lemonade at Aioli, the creative little sandwich shop on Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach. Summer’s favorite sip is particularly flavorful here because it’s infused with a variety of flavors.
There’s watermelon lemonade, cucumber-mint lemonade, lemongrass-ginger lemonade, key lime-jalapeño lemonade, pineapple-basil lemonade, honeydew lemonade, and pear-cranberry lemonade. They’re made of fresh fruit infusions, lemon juice and simple sugar.
The daylight sandwich shop is open from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Aioli: 7434 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-366-7741; AioliWPB.com
Chefs get creative
Maybe it’s the general ease in restaurant traffic that’s to blame for the displays of creativity by local chefs during summer. It’s the season when chefs tend to indulge their artistic whims more freely, when multicourse dinners can extend into double digits.
This creative spark is evidenced by local throw-down, such as the late-night Chef vs. Chef battles that recur weekly (Wednesday nights) during summer months at Max’s Harvest.
The chefs-having-fun motif can be detected on Wednesday late-nights at Grato in West Palm Beach, where chef/co-owner Clay Conley fires up a selection of rock-themed pizzas. At 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays, he cranks up the classic rock and serves up pies with titles like Wavy Gravy (Sunday gravy meat sauce, creamy buffalo cheese, basil), Rocket Man (fontina, Parmesan, tomato, caramelized onion, rocket greens), and L-O-L-A Lola (an oddly shaped, pepperoni-topped pizza). The special pizzas are served only Wednesday nights during Grato Rocks.
Elsewhere, there are some notable multicourse feasts. At Jardin, the new-ish, chef-driven eatery on Clematis Street, chef duo Jordan Lerman and Stephanie Cohen (husband/wife) have kicked off Monday night “Chefs’ Grand Tasting” dinners.
And by “grand” they mean 15 courses. The dinners, which run through Aug. 29, are intimate affairs, limited to the first eight guests who reserve each week. The special dinners showcase an imaginative tasting menu (it changes week to week) that’s inspired by local ingredients. Monday grand tastings start at 7 p.m. and cost $100 per person (add $40 for wine or cocktail pairings).
Meanwhile at Twenty Twenty Grille in Boca Raton, Chef Ron Weisheit’s 15-course summer dinners – offered for 20 guests – are so popular, they’re selling out. Grand tasting dinners at the small eatery are scheduled for June 30, July 1 and July 2. The feast costs $150 per person.
Max’s Harvest: 169 NE 2nd Ave., Delray Beach; 561-381-9970; MaxsHarvest.com
Grato: 1901 S. Dixie Hway, West Palm Beach; 561-404-1334; GratoWPB.com
Jardin: 330 Clematis St., West Palm Beach; 561-440-5273; JardinRestaurant.com
TwentyTwenty Grille: 141 Via Naranja #45, Boca Raton; 561-990-7969; TwentyTwentyGrille.com
Staycation lunch with a view
For a direct hit of summer, settle into an oceanfront seat at Breeze Ocean Kitchen, the alfresco eatery and bar at the Eau Palm Beach resort. Summertime lunch is on sale – a three-course meal costs $28 per person – though a la carte options also are offered. Lunch is served from noon to 2:30 p.m. daily. The prix fixe is offered through October.
Breeze at Eau Palm Beach: 100 S. Ocean Blvd., Manalapan