French Bakery, Thai Restaurant Add Regional Flavor to South P.B.C.

food
The interior of La Boulangerie Boul'Miche

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend media dinners for two new restaurants in South Palm Beach County, and both deserve to be on your radar.

La Boulagerie Boul’Mich, a new French bakery at Town Center, is as much museum as restaurant. The first thing you may notice as you enter the sizable space—a former Venetian Nails location, if you can believe it—are the vintage kitchen utensils nailed to the back wall, as if curated by an artistic poltergeist. Or it may be the repurposed colanders, each containing a single bulb, arranged on another wall in such a way that the lights spell out BAKERY. Or, perhaps, it’s the priceless antique cameras, stove and funky artisanal lamps, designed by the owner, hanging from the ceiling. There’s even some old-timey roller skates on another wall, and a Pachinko machine near the restrooms.

All of these arresting visual accouterments are, in fact, handed down from the owners and their families, giving the place a unique bespoke appeal—even considering this is the sixth La Boulangerie and first in Palm Beach County, with partners passionate about fresh, eclectic cuisine helming each one.

Eclectic, indeed: La Boulangerie specializes in French baked goods with twists of Latin and Israeli cuisine (It’s not for chance that strategically placed clocks reveal the time in Paris, Caracas and Tel Aviv.) This vision meets your mouth in the form of creative spins on traditional breakfast and lunch favorites like the Bravia salad, an enormous dish with mixed greens, goat cheese, apples and roasted almonds atop a beet carpaccio drizzled with Balsamic and olive oil.

Breakfast at La Boulangerie Boul’Mich

As we discovered in the media tasting, the omelets—we tried the Greek, with Feta cheese, sautéed tomatoes and olives—also are a hearty home run. Empanadas are a house specialty, and while the mushroom and spinach variety hits the spot, the chorizo version elicits its own foodgasms, with the richly seasoned meat among the best I’ve tasted.

As for desserts, this is a French bakery, so sinning is mandatory. The almond and chocolate croissant, livened by an addictive almond paste inside and chopped almonds all around it, is the perfect end to a meal here. Come for the artifacts and stay for the food, or come for the food and admire the décor; either way, this place is a keeper.

La Boulangerie Boul’Mich is at 6000 Glades Road, Suite 1048A. Call 561/361-8820.


Chicken fried rice at Shiitake

In contrast to the bells and whistles of La Boulangerie, Shiitake, which opened recently in a Delray strip plaza, is all about no-frills, expertly prepared Thai food from an Asian-American couple who ran a heralded restaurant in Boston and were drawn to Florida by the warmer climes. With framed, enlarged photos of monks and Buddhas establishing the atmosphere, this media dinner included a smorgasbord of small plates and one entrée. For the latter, I tried the Southern Duck and Noodles. It was perfectly cooked—the skin fell off the avian strips with merely a sharp glance—over yellow noodles that melted in the mouth. Bean sprouts, garlic, scallions, cilantro and an enticing peanut sauce complemented the flavor mélange.

Impressive starters included the tuna crispy rice, the only fried sushi rice on the sushi menu, and topped with spicy tuna, jalapenos, sweet soy sauce and spicy mayo; it felt, in texture and mouth feel, like eating a loaded fried green tomato. You also won’t go wrong with the simply prepared chicken satay with peanut sauce and crispy veggie rice cakes—squares of deep-fried heaven—served with the same sweet soy sauce.

Southern duck with noodles

Fair warning: If you don’t like dollops of sweetness with your savory options, this may not be your favorite Asian restaurant. I found the balance enriching, though. Publicist Tom Madden, who spoke at the media dinner, praised the owners’ “Asian delicacies unrivaled anywhere in the country.” I can’t speak to praise that high, but I have been to Thailand, and these dishes were just as good as the ones I ordered in fine restaurants there. Be sure to thank you server with a “Kob kun ka!”

Shiitake is at 4900 Linton Road, Suite 14. Call 561/865-5538.