Thursday, September 12, 2013

James Beard House Dinner: Sunshine State Bounty

TT and CT were gracious enough to invite us to a James Beard House dinner called Sunshine State Bounty featuring 3800 Ocean Restaurant at the Palm Beach Marriott with Chef Adam Hervieux and Culinary Director Larry LaValley. The menu was seafood heavy and perfect for the warm summer night.
We started off the night with champagne and a coconut and banana drink. Then the hors d'oeurves started flowing from the kitchen. First the red snapper cornet with soy, ginger, wasabi, and roe. A crunchy, savory, mini ice cream cone wrapping plump pieces of dressed red snapper. So fresh and delicious. Light yet strong flavors.

The heirloom tomato bloody marys with lobster salad and caviar were equally delicious and light. This was a bit more difficult to eat as the lobster sometimes got stuck and came flowing down as one piece. A little spoon would have been a better choice.
The Key West shrimp tempura with mango duck sauce was a big hit. Tender pieces of sweet shrimp wrapped in nori then lightly deep fried until crispy. It really didn't need the mango sauce. CT and I loved this dish and attempted to eat as many as we could. Well within reason since dinner was still upon us.
The grille conch ceviche with calabaz, avaocado, and scotch bonnet chilis was just okay. It certainly was again light and refreshing but it somehow lacked oomph. The other dishes far surpassed this dish in terms of flavor.
After a delicious round of food, we all moved inside for our dinner. First up, the watermelon and feta salad with lychee, arugula, and fried avocado in a honey based vinaigrette. Another delicious dish and really interesting. I've had watermelon and feta salads before but the addition of lychees for extra sweetness was a surprise along with the creamy yet crispy fried avocado croutons. That was pure genius.
The next dish was a rare seared wahoo fish with passion fruit, plantains, jalapeno escabeche, and coconut jelly. Too much was going on in this plate. The fish was wonderfully cooked and had a lot of meaty flavor of its own. It didn't need all the other components which were quite aggressive on their own.
The next dish was fish again with grilled cobia with Cape Canaveral shrimp with yuca bolitas, roasted corn puree, lima beans, heirloom tomatoes, and Benton bacon onion jam. Again the fish was expertly cooked but too many components crowded the plate. The fish with he bacon onion jam was a good pairing since the fish was heavier and held up well to the strong smoked and cured flavors of the jam. The corn puree was smooth, creamy and sweet. The shrimp were completely lost in the mix. The yuca bolitas though good were unnecessary. I felt like the lima beans and heirloom tomatoes were left off my plate. If they were on my plate, I certainly couldn't find them and didn't miss them.
The last savory course was the Korean barbecued strip loin with papaya, ginger lemongrass rice, and kimchi tasting. The steak had a sweet savory sauce very similar to one you would find on galbi. The steak was cooked okay but the pancakes underneath were terrible. Rubbery and bland. I tossed that aside immediately. The accompanying garnishes like the papaya and kimchi tasting seemed too much again. I enjoy a mix of flavors in my dishes but these were confusing and didn't particularly work together.
Our first dessert course started with the guava cream cheese sorbet pasteles. I really enjoyed this. Why? It was simple. A fried pastry with guava and cream cheese. Sweet but not overly so. A contrast in texture of crunchy versus soft.
Unfortunately, the next dessert was again over thought. The Valrhona manjari candy bar with apricots and crispy wafers was overkill. The layers of chocolate and other soft delectables was only met with a too hard cookie crust. Attempts to eat this in a civil manner left dessert flying off plates as we tried to cut through the cookie crust with spoons. Eventually we just ate the top portion.
Overall, the meal by 3800 Ocean was hit or miss. The hors d'Oeurves were the best part with dish after dish of well thought out food. Enough to keep us interested but not too much to confuse us. Dinner was another story. It started out well but ended up overwhelming. It's almost as if the chef and his team were trying too hard. They certainly know their ingredients well. So why try to cover it us with all these components which in my opinion didn't add anything more to the experience.

I'd like to end this post addressing how friendly and professional the staff at the James Beard House was. They left no one hungry nor thirsty. They really know how to uphold the name of James Beard.

James Beard House
167 W 12th Street
New York, NY 10011
(212) 675-4984

3800 Ocean Restaurant
Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa
3800 North Ocean Drive
Singer Island Riviera Beach, FL 33404

1 comment:

  1. Yea unforunately not all of the courses are always winners. Especially sad when the last courses are the least successful.

    Hors d'Oeurves and first couple courses were very good.

    Great wine pairings too!

    Glad you two could come out.


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