dessert

 

 

 
The Hamlet Country Club
 **
3600 Hamlet Drive, Delray Beach 33445  561-498-7600

The Hamlet’s fare mixes fine dining, comfort foods, and playfulness. The private club aspect will make it attractive to business people who want to impress clients 

 

  

     

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Dinner at the Chef’s Table

By Jana Soeldner Danger

To be or not to be? A fine dining establishment or a place to play golf?

At The Hamlet Country Club in Delray Beach, Chef Jason Zeller and Food and Beverage Director Kevin Kenny want people to think of “The Hamlet” primarily as a Club that offers exceptional dining, and then as a golf club.  

With this in mind, the partners have contracted to put the dining service on a par with some of the area’s best restaurants.  They have opened the lounge and dining room to separate dining club memberships ($250 fee) and members will be admitted through a guarded gatehouse and will get the special attention bestowed to “members of the board.”

The recently renovated 300-seat bar and dining room have flexible partitions that allow areas to be divided into cozy smaller spaces or to be opened up for large groups. An elegant classic contemporary décor with dark and medium-toned woods and starched linen tablecloths opens to sweeping views of meticulously kept greens and fairways.

In the past several years private clubs around the country have had problems with membership growth and retention, so staff will have to work hard to deliver the service that makes the joining fee worthwhile. The food will certainly help achieve that goal.

Zeller – a graduate from the Culinary Institute of America who became executive chef at the Surf Club in Miami Beach and at the Turtle Creek Club in Tequesta - and Kenny, a native of Ireland, met through a friend who introduced them five years ago, partly because both were Four Seasons alumni.  Zeller had worked at the Palm Beach location and Kenny at the Four Seasons in London. “We had an instant connection,” says Kenny, who owns and operates a catering company in addition to his work at The Hamlet. “When this opportunity presented itself, we were glad to be able to work together.” Kenny also worked at The Hamlet 15 years ago, so some longtime members still remember him, he says.

At The Hamlet, where he is offering “Dinner at the Chef’s Table”, Chef Zeller is creating seasonal menus that focuses on fresh ingredients from local purveyors, sustainable seafood, and grass fed beef. Both the dining room and the Bali Bar tapas menus offer updated old favorites such as Kobe meatloaf and rotisserie chicken, and fine dining options like fish, lamb, and veal with classic sauces, as well as some playful additions.

So, we sat in the sparkling kitchen, where between bites and conversation we could watch dishes being prepared and plated.

 Appetizers

Our meal began with a collection of fresh, warm artisan breads from a local baker, accompanied by plenty of sweet butter.

A first course heirloom tomato & homemade mozzarella ($10) drizzled with aged balsamic, first press olive oil, tellecherry pepper & fragrant basil leaves and garden herbs was a colorful and refreshing dish zinged with summer flavors and a pleasing mix of textures.

Spicy chipotle peppers added mild heat to a tomato sipper laced with the nutty taste of gruyère cheese. Then came a three-shell bisque made with line-caught crab, lobster, and shrimp, was smooth and full of rich crustacean flavor.

 Wild mushroom soup, a puree with criminis, portabellas, and oysters, was topped with playful truffle foam so the cup resembled a cappuccino.

A tropical shrimp martini ($13) was a citrusy, refreshing take on a classic shrimp cocktail. Five fresh, lightly poached shrimp were the star of a plate that combined the flavors and textures of crunchy baby greens; cool, sweet mango and passion fruit gelee; and creamy, mild avocado, in perfect juxtaposition with a spicy, horseradish-scented gazpacho.

Entrees

 A lobster corn dog ($19) on the tapas menu was a whimsical treat that Zeller aptly describes as a partnership of state fair food and fine dining: Cold water lobster on a stick was dipped in house-made corn batter and quickly deep fried so it was crispy on the outside with succulently moist, rich shellfish on the inside. There was a Joe’s mustard sauce for dipping, and an accompanying salad of crunchy greens and sweet-tart citrus provided a cool contrast to the fun finger food.

A fillet of very fresh, locally caught yellow tail snapper ($30) rolled around a rich crab and lobster stuffing was dipped in light breading and then quickly pan seared at high heat, and finished in the oven.  The slightly crispy coating was a nice textural contrast to the firm, flaky fish, while the lobster and crab made the dish richer and more complex. Pollen from fennel flowers added an intriguing hint of licorice.

 Fire-roasting a rack of American lamb created a luscious smoky char on the outside, leaving the flavorful meat inside tender, moist and juicy. A mushroom demi glace nicely accented the lamb, and mild-tasting chayote added color and texture.

A New York strip was also very good. The meat was beautifully cooked, tender and flavorful, but the accompaniments made it extra special. Topping the steak was a delicate, flaky beggar’s purse made of savory fuille de brick and stuffed with a bonito puree. The bitterness of broccoli rabe served with it provided a striking contrast to the sweetness of the bonito. Completing the dish was an earthy ragu of oyster, crimini, and portabella mushrooms in a red wine and veal stock reduction—an altogether memorable combination of tastes and textures.

Other entrees include veal chop ($42); duck ($36); sautéed prawns ($18; and grilled vegetable sandwich. The menu offers a three-course prix fixe dinner for $25.

 Desserts

Warm, moist chocolate soufflé cake ($8) topped with coffee ice cream was set on a crunchy Heath bar with white chocolate sauce.

Dessert shots ($4) are perfect for those who want just a taste of something sweet to finish the meal. As the name suggests, they are sweets served in shot glasses. If you want more than a bite, order several different flavors, which include key lime, raspberry dulce de leche, white chocolate, Oreo cookie, blueberry, and limoncello. The dessert menu also includes cookies ($4); and some no-sugar-added choices.

The Hamlet’s fare mixes fine dining, comfort foods, and playfulness. The private club aspect will make it attractive to business people who want to impress clients by whizzing them into a gated area, as well as those who just appreciate the idea of belonging.  

 
The Hamlet Country Club
 **
3600 Hamlet Drive, Delray Beach 33445            561-498-7600

 

Cuisine:  American with Asian accents
Ambiance: Casual chic
Wine & Liquor: Full bar and international wines
Service: Prompt & professional
Prices: Appetizers $3-$12; entrees $16-$42; desserts $4-$8Credit cards: All 
Hours: Lunch Tue-Sun 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Dinner Wed & Fri 5-8 p.m.
   

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