L'Escalier at The Breakers, Palm Beach

One South County Road, Palm Beach, 561-659-8465


  A new seasonal menu with wildly creative dishes in a sumptuous old-world setting



a chocolate replica of the hotel:




New seasonal menu at L’Escalier at The Breakers  
By Jana Soeldner Danger —
photos Simone Zarmati Diament

          While L’Escalier at the legendary Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach still mercifully resists the trend toward more casual dining, retaining instead its formal ambience and service, Chef de cuisine Greg Vassos has  surprisingly come up with a new seasonal menu of avant garde molecular gastronomy.   


          Traditionally, L’Escalier experience has aimed to capture the hearts of true food and wine enthusiasts, as well as those seeking an evening out that feels truly extraordinary. Artfully executed tableside presentations add an element of drama to a dining event that is designed to captivate both the eye and the palate.


          Curved banquettes provide elegant yet comfortable seating, and tables draped in floor-length linens are set with Versace china, Christofle silverware, and Riedel crystal.  


          Adjacent to L’Escalier is the Tapestry Bar, named for the 15th century Flemish tapestries that cover one wall. The space features a vintage mahogany bar and living room-style sofas and upholstered chairs in intimate seating groups, where guests can sample wine flights or linger over Port or brandy while nibbling on appetizers, caviar, cheeses or desserts from the bar menu.


          When possible, Vassos uses locally sourced seafood and produce to interpret contemporary French cuisine, and always features the freshest seasonal ingredients.  He also incorporates the concept of molecular gastronomy, which purports to engage the science of flavors to develop new and imaginative combinations.


Serious, fun or seriously fun?


Molecular gastronomy or not, and in contrast with the “pomp and circumstance” of the surroundings,  Chef Vassos produces some outstanding fare.


Among the selections on the new menu are peekytoe crab with avocado, guava rum punch, and sorrel; creamy cauliflower soup with cacao; red snapper with Provençal seasonings; and Moroccan-style lamb. Each dish is prepared and presented for maximum sensual impact.


          Vassos is in his third season at The Breakers. Before joining the resort, he was honing his talents at The Brasserie in Grand Cayman and was sous-chef at the Dining Room at the Ritz Carlton in Buckhead, GA.  His experience also includes stints at French Laundry in Napa Valley; he served as sous chef for three-star Michelin recipient Eric Ripert at his restaurant Blue, and worked under two-star Michelin Chef Sergi Arola at Arola in Barcelona;


          At The Breakers, Chef  Vasso is in partnership with two master sommeliers, Wine Director Virginia Philip and Juan Gomez. The two oversee a 7,800-bottle display wine cellar, a collection representing more than 1,600 selections. It is, however, merely a selective showcase of the Breakers’ 28,000-bottle collection.      


        Virginia Philip, the 10th woman in the world to earn Master Sommelier certification, and Juan Gomez , the first native Mexican to do so, are part of a team of five sommeliers who will suggest wine selections to complement every dish on the menu.


The Hotel 


        Simply walking through The Breakers itself can be a memorable experience. Built in 1896, the Italian Renaissance-style hotel is on the National Register of Historic Places and conjures the elegance of Old Palm Beach. Throughout the hotel, soaring fresco ceilings are a visual adventure.


       The current owners have not rested on former laurels, however. During the past decade, they have invested $250,000 in revitalizing the property, which includes two golf courses, 10 tennis courts, a 20,000-square-foot spa, and a half mile of private beach.


     L’Escalier is open Tuesday through Saturday. Jackets are recommended, but no longer are required. For reservations, call 561-659-8480.