Chef of World’s Best Restaurant Cameos at Palm Beach’s Florie’s

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Chef Mauro Colagreco, left

There are worse ways to start a workweek. This past Monday, with most of us still a little woozy from the overindulgent Thanksgiving weekend, the marketing and sales teams of the Four Seasons Palm Beach invited select media to an eight-course, two-hour lunch at the resort’s hot new restaurant, Florie’s.

Florie’s has been open for approximately a year, but this week marked my first visit to the restaurant, and its host hotel, since the latter’s lavish renovation. Situated just off the lobby on the ground floor, the bar and dining room of Florie’s overlook a palm-lined patio, which overlooks two pools, which overlooks the Four Seasons’ immaculate swath of beachfront, which overlooks an azure Atlantic Ocean. This layout, as elegant and user-friendly as the original iPhone, is part of the redesign’s appeal, but it’s not the reason so many professional food writers (and, ahem, yours truly) responded to the invite. The main draw was a rare Palm Beach cameo from the man in the crisp white chef’s uniform with its three Michelin stars sewn on: Mauro Colagreco, for whom Florie’s is the side hustle outside his central gig—as executive chef of the French Riviera’s Mirazur, the world’s best restaurant.

A native of Argentina, Colagreco earned the honor this year, marking the first time a French restaurant topped the list since 2002. Dining at Florie’s this week, though, you wouldn’t necessarily guess you were in the company of culinary royalty. He was good-natured, always smiling, humble about his successes, and focused on the task at hand—providing the press with a broad survey of Florie’s menu, a more casual concept than the staunchly upscale Mirazur. As you hope with any great chef, he likes to eat what he designs, and after he finished sprinkling local microgreens on a salmon ceviche served to us as an aperitif, he partook in one of his own baked Boston clams with lemon, parsley and pistachio in escargot butter.

The sit-down lunch started, as it must, with bread, served warm and unbroken. The restaurant encourages large parties to rip off pieces with their hands, like in the olden days; it’s the perfect starch, aided by a ginger olive oil dip from a recipe by Colagreco’s mother. As a vegetarian-leaning foodie, I couldn’t get enough of the next dish, an heirloom tomato and persimmon carpaccio, a deceptively light-looking appetizer whose bold, almost exotic punch derived from Sicilian pistachios, chives and a ginger vinaigrette.

The tasting featured plenty of surf and turf options from the locavore-leaning menu, including an inventive “interlude” between the main courses (pictured above) that includes both: a Carabinero prawn resting atop a slice of Four Story Hill chicken, and garnished with beurre blanc, trout eggs and kaffir lime, which lent an agreeable tang to this subtle flavor mélange.

Florie’s sources its excellent Wagyu beef from Jackman ranch in Clewiston. Monday’s main course included a sizable slab of the tender steak (pictured below) with some truly dynamite sides: truffled, melt-in-your-mouth mashed potatoes, fries with an addictive salt kick, and a goulash of sweet potatoes, dates and walnuts.

Capping the meal, Colagreco’s white chocolate mousse with yuzu-mango sorbet and mango soulis—a dessert that won the chef one of his Michelin stars—struck a heavenly balance between creamy and tart, and will be in my dreams for days to come. The rose mille-feuille with lychee and raspberry (below) was no slouch either.

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The restaurant opened with every intention of appealing to locals as well as visiting hotel guests, and it offers complimentary valet for residents. While Colagreco himself likely won’t be at the back of the house for your next visit, you owe it to yourself to experience his innovative dishes—his creativity present in every delicately arranged, richly textured bite.

Florie’s at the Four Seasons is at 2800 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach. For reservations, call 561/533-3750.

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