While shutting restaurants down may have seemed simple to outsiders, it required more than just closing the doors. Staff had to be paid or let go; food had to be sold, given away or tossed; suppliers had to be paid, or not; and plans had to be made for eventually reopening.
We live in a large foodie area. Palm Beach County was reaching a high point, being recognized locally, regionally and nationally for its eateries and the talented people who devised and prepared wonderful dishes.
We will get there again. Quite a few restaurants have reopened, with distancing in place and over-the-top sanitizing routines becoming the new norm. Some haven’t reopened, and more than we want to admit will never reopen.
But more are joining our social calendars on a weekly basis, and that includes the 11,000-square-foot The Regional Kitchen & Public House in West Palm Beach, which reopens June 3.
It’s one of the largest restaurants in the county, directly across from the PB Convention Center and the Hilton West Palm Beach – both of which provided the Regional with a steady flow of diners pre-virus. The Hilton has reopened, with virus restrictions in place, and Rosemary Square has reopened most stores and restaurants there.
Regional owners Chef Lindsay Autry and Thierry Beaud have reimagined both the space and the menu. At a soft opening for friends and family, both were on display for what they have named “Palm Beach County’s Biggest Small Restaurant.”
All of the restaurant’s large areas are now used for dining: the bar area, both private dining rooms, the two patio areas and the main dining room. There are wide pathways between the tables, so both diners and masked and gloved staff can move comfortably and keep social distancing in place.
A classy touch at the front door (and Autry is known for her classy touches) was a small, plastic pouch given to each diner to hold their mask. Diners don’t have to put masks on a table or chair or any other surface; both thoughtful and practical.
Autry’s new menu contains some of her most popular dishes (the tomato pie, pickled shrimp, fried chicken thighs), and she’s redone her famous pimento cheese to include a wider variety of raw veggies, still with beautiful plating. Her cheddar cheese biscuits replace the tiny crackers and are worth it, flaky and cheesy and light. A seafood gumbo (pictured above) replaces the seafood boil and is subtly spicy with housemade sausage and Carolina gold rice, alongside local fish, lobster, blackened prawn and Florida clams.
There is Florida red snapper, whole branzino, the half-chicken dish, Creekstone Farms ribeye and bucatini primavera for entrees. A new option is the chef’s tasting menu, with four courses, for $95 per person, wine tasting add-on for $45. There is a chef’s table now, too, which seats eight and is right in front of the kitchen, so chatting with the chefs is easily done.
There’s a reason Chef Autry has been a James Beard Award nominee multiple times. She uses her creativity to reach new heights even in the most challenging times.