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Something’s cooking in downtown Boynton…
Tuesday, 22 April 2014 20:09

Maria Murriel, along with other food and entertainment writers, attended the CRA’s Breeze into Boynton  ”Foodie Familiarization (FAM) Tour,” on August 16.  The event included a guided tour, by trolley, of restaurants that have recently opened in downtown Boynton, as well as stops at some established dining locations, where our guests  sampled menu items and met the restaurant owners.  
 

Chrissy Benoit greets writers at The Little House during the FAM Tour.

 

 by Maria Murriel, Sun Sentinel, August 22, 2012

On a balmy Thursday afternoon, bar guests at Cuthill’s Backyard sip light ales and fruity cocktails under a roomy wooden hut while seated on bar stools made from thick pieces of carved wood. A few feet away, a silver 1971 Airstream trailer stands among neon-lit palm trees, housing a kitchen where chefs make mahi-mahi dip and conch fritters.

They’re at one of three new restaurants in downtown Boynton Beach, an area that has seen an increase in residents younger than 40 in the past five years, and with it the emergence of a dining scene.

“Now, we have choices for young professionals in the area that are looking for a place to go,” says Margee Walsh of the Community Redevelopment Agency, which has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to spruce up the city’s restaurants.

The Backyard, 511 NE Fourth St., opened earlier this year with help from the CRA, and it’s become one of Boynton’s go-to spots. What was an empty lot last year is now a loud bar serving fresh fish cooked by chefs trained in four-star Hawaiian restaurants. A half-mile south, a renovated 1920s house turned bistro serves 20 craft beers on tap.

The Little House, 480 E Ocean Ave., is owned by chef Chrissy Benoit. She previously owned Lake Worth‘s Havana Hideout, a Cuban restaurant featured on the Food Network‘s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” At the Little House, Benoit has both tandoori chicken and smoked salmon pizza on the same menu, which she couldn’t do at the Cuban-focused Hideout. She also makes innovative desserts, including the Pop Rock petite citrus sour cream pie, which has a layer of Pop Rocks at the bottom.

The quaint restaurant opened in July, inside a historic cottage the CRA moved on a flatbed truck from its original location on First Street and First Avenue. Benoit operates without a full kitchen to preserve the decades-old infrastructure, so she preps proteins and sauces in her West Palm Beach kitchen studio.  The chef hosted brew-offs at the Hideout, and she’s already planning the Little House’s first one. Come Nov. 4, roughly 20 homebrewers will make their best fall styles for up to $1,000 in cash prizes.  “People that are good with food would really enjoy brewing,” she says. “It’s really ingredient-based.”

Benoit’s interest in libations goes further than homebrewing: Within two weeks, she expects to begin filming the Internet TV show “Life Behind Bars,” a reality show from the perspective of the Little House’s bartenders.

Clint Reed and Sean Iglehart of the Sweetwater Bar and Grill, 1507 S. Federal Highway, also love crafty liquids. Their bar resembles a 1930s speakeasy: It’s dim and small, with elaborate chandeliers and an immense selection of spirits. “We want to be the best in cocktails in the Southeast,” Reed says.

Sweetwater-sign

Sweetwater Bar & Grill celebrates December 5 as their Independence Day - the date that marks the repeal of the 18th Amendment (Prohibition).

Sweetwater opened in April 2011, carrying about 100 bourbons, 45 gins and 85 bitters, a type of flavoring alcohol that’s popular in today’s cocktail culture. Its take on the old fashioned includes a bacon-infused bourbon and maple rye with two types of bitters.

Reed claims the fish the restaurant serves is so fresh, the local fisherman who delivers it passes by the bar before even heading to his own market after the catch. Menu highlights include lobster mac with cold-water tails and white truffle oil, and a veggie flatbread with hummus, asparagus tips and zucchini.

Reed and Iglehart are designing a new bar, to be built in the empty space next to Sweetwater. The menu’s not settled, but it will be what Reed calls a purer, “even more old-school” approach to cocktails.

He and Iglehart are not the only ones with big plans. Jim Hall, owner of the Backyard, is designing a three-story bar in the style of an English abbey, to be built adjacent to his lot. Alessandro Silvestri is working on opening the Biergarten, located next door to Sweetwater, in time for Octoberfest.

Once finished, these places would only add to the handful of dining gems in Boynton Beach. The family-owned Prime Catch, on 700 E. Woolbright Road, has been serving upscale seafood since 2004, and Hurricane Alley’s Kim Kelly gladly cooks the fish people catch on her husband’s charter boat. The restaurant, at 529 E. Ocean Ave., has an extensive seafood menu and a list of cocktails crafted by Kelly herself.

Kim-and-Burt

Hurricane Alley owner Kim Kelly with husband, Captain Burt Garnsey, owner of the Sea Mist III fishing charters.

“We’ve noticed lately, with the new and also established restaurants, there’s a synergy that’s beginning,” the CRA’s Walsh says. “Our whole goal is to develop the downtown area.”

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