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Grateful Palate
 
 817 SE 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale,   954-467-1998

A cozy, friendly place for good food and wine   

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by Jana Soeldner Danger  
 
            The Grateful Palate, which has long been a popular yacht-provisioning service and gourmet deli, expanded last spring to become a restaurant and wine bar. Although the menu is somewhat limited, it is varied and creative enough so there is something to suit just about every taste. The food is very good, and almost everything (except the delicious, warm olive bread, served with both sweet butter and olive oil) is made in-house. Both appetizer and entrée portions are generous.
            Executive Chef David Learmonth, a native of Sydney, has worked in Michelin-star restaurants in Australia, England, and France, and also as a personal chef in homes and aboard private yachts. After coming to the Grateful Palate two years ago, he developed a menu of American-style dishes influenced by varied international cuisines. It changes weekly, although some dishes are house specialties that tend to remain more or less permanently. Most produce is flown in daily from a greenhouse in Ohio, a deviation from the current trend toward using local ingredients.
 
Lengthy wine list
             The lengthy wine list, divided both according to place of origin and type or style, focuses on smaller, family-owned wineries from around the globe. Sommelier Grace Abel not only unpretentiously shares her knowledge to recommend wines and pair them with food, but also takes time to learn about the diner’s personal wine style preferences. 
            The Grateful Palate’s cozy space is tucked into a strip shopping center on 17th Street, convenient for the staff’s continued service to the yachting community. Soft lighting and background music conducive to conversation help to create an ambience equally suited to a romantic date or a casual outing with friends.
            Half the room is devoted to the comfortable lounge, where you can choose from seating at tables or the small, intimate bar. In the dining room, an open kitchen provides a view of the chefs at work. A counter directly in front of the cooking area, called the Chef’s Table, offers diners an opportunity to sit close to the action. A long, high-topped table on the opposite side of the room, dubbed the Captain’s Table, is reserved for larger groups.
 
Appetizers
            Bruschetta ($16) is made with the restaurant’s olive bread rather than the usual baguette. Grilled and topped with fresh tomato and buffalo mozzarella and accented with haricot, roasted peppers, basil, and toasted garlic, this version of the classic was full-flavored, with a nice balance of textures.
            Sliders made with Wagyu beef were quite delicious. Moist and cooked to order, the three mini-burgers were topped with arugula aioli and gherkins. For many, the serving would be enough for a satisfying entrée.
            Mediterranean-style lamb lollipops were also excellent. Four tender baby chops were perfectly grilled. A tasty dipping sauce layered with olive oil, lemon, parsley, thyme and cilantro, and accented with just a hint of anchovy, was an ideal accompaniment, although the flavorful lamb was delicious on its own.
            Other starters include ossetra caviar with blinis and crème fraiche (market price); Caesar ($8/$14 and Greek ($14) salads; seared scallop with fois gras ($20); crab cakes ($14); and an artisan cheese plate ($20).
 
Entrees
            Pan-seared duck, served medium rare, was moist and tender. Its rich, dusky taste was beautifully complemented by tiny pasta purses filled with delicately flavored pear and cheese puree. The dish was served with butter noisette and earthy slivers of shitake mushrooms.
            A whole Maine lobster tail poached in butter and crowned with a dollop of ossetra caviar, was the centerpiece of fettuccini Alfredo. Additional chunks of lobster thickened the rich, garlicky sauce made with cream, butter, egg yolks and lobster stock, and accented with a wee bit too much sherry. The pasta was nicely el dente.
            Other entrees include a Wagyu burger ($18); New York steak ($38); crab cake ($17); Thai beef salad ($18); chicken ($26); barramundi ($28); and osso bucco ($44).
 
Desserts
            Ice creams and sorbets are made in-house. Other dessert choices include chocolate sculpture, baked meringue, and chocolate brownie (10). We chose to end our meal with the cheese platter that is listed on the appetizer menu. Cheeses change weekly, but usually include one each of aged, soft, goat, and blue.
 
            Grateful palate is a cozy, friendly place for good food as well as an opportunity to try and learn about different wines. It’s a place you might want to return to often.
  
 
Grateful Palate
 
Address: 817 SE 17th Street, Fort Lauderdale
Phone: 954-467-1998
Website: www.thegratefulpalate.net
Hours: Lunch Mon.-Sat. 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
             Dinner Mon.-Wed. 5 to 10 p.m. Thu.-Sat. 5-midnight
Dinner prices: Appetizers $8-$20; entrees $17-$44; desserts $8-$10
Ambience: Smart casual