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Sunday, March 25, 2012

LONGBOARDS ON CLEMATIS ST. IF YOU'RE FISHING FOR A GOOD MEAL IN WEST PALM BEACH

Only open since July, Longboards on Clematis St. in West Palm Beach, Florida, is the new player on the block and one not to be missed.  We stumbled upon it through a Groupon offer, and once again, we hit a winner.

Longboards is a cavernous space with a long, welcoming, polished bar that forms the center of the room. The bar is in the shape of a longboard--a big surfboard. Within easy reach of the barstools are coathooks nailed into the side of the bar—convenient to hang purses.  I love that.  I’m a bar sitter, and this is a terrific, thoughtful touch.

Tables line Clematis Street outside, and out back are more tables set on sand; after all, you use your longboard at the beach.  We sit inside where the plank walls like driftwood are decorated with painted longboards, beautiful surfboards that quickly create an easy, relaxed atmosphere.

Big screen TVs playing surfing videos strategically dot the planks, and I love watching surfers performing aerials, going for barrel rides and even wiping out.  Some exciting stuff on the big screen.  At the back of the restaurant one wall is a huge screen where the thrilling surfing footage plays.  I have to fight the urge to crane my neck so I can see what's going on there.

The single TV over the bar plays more conventional sports, but I can’t remember what sport because the surfing videos are so good to watch.

In designing Longboards, attention to detail paid off; the atmosphere is personable and cool.  We like it here. Additionally, the service we experience matches!

Our server, Ashley, goes over the beer list with Rob who loves a good, hoppy, IPA, and with her guidance through the broad selection, he settles on Arrogant Bastard Ale.  This is the way the bottle label defined Arrogant Bastard: "An aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it.”  Rob likes it a lot.  But he did concede that you really have to be an IPA fan to like this one.  They’ve got a neat website at http://www.arrogantbastard.com/ where they say, “Fizzy Yellow Beer is for Wussies.”

I’m apparently a wussie and instead enjoyed a lovely pint of Naragansett Lager, first brewed in 1890 and the official beer of the Boston Red Sox from 1944-1975.   My point is, of course, that Ashley aimed to please.  She knew her stuff down to the last detail on both the bar and food menus. In fact, Drew Brown, the assistant manager, came over to discuss IPAs with Rob and to make sure Rob’s request for that hoppy taste was answered. 

Oh, yes, we are there for dinner, but you can see that it is a great place for an  evening of slow drinking and nibbles from an extensive and varied appetizer menu.

We begin our meal sharing Oysters Rockefeller, that lovely specialty of Antoine’s in New Orleans where we first had it.  That’s a lot to live up to.  Longboard’s was different from Antoine’s but very tasty.  Here we can identify the spinach and cheese, but the combination is delightful nonetheless.  Nice, hot oysters attractively served on a bed of salt.  Longboard’s Oysters Rockefeller stands on its own.

Our entrée choices are the same but different.  We select the yellowtail snapper.  I have mine sautéed in a light butter sauce; Rob has his grilled.

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Does this look like any mac & cheese you've ever eaten?
 
My fish is superb, very fresh, lightly seasoned and flakey.  The sauce is also light, the lemony taste not overpowering but gently complementing the very fresh snapper. Two sides are included, and believe me, these are not ordinary, non-descript dishes.  I choose broccoli and “bacon scallion mac & cheese.”  The broccoli is perfect, and the mac & cheese is tiny shells drenched in the combination of flavors and topped with a dusting of broiled breadcrumbs.  Scrumptious.

Rob’s snapper is simply grilled—again, to perfection.  Lightly seasoned, the fish maintains its integrity. He chooses a lovely cauliflower gratin and “bacon bourbon brussel sprouts” as his sides. Lovely. 

We do not hurry through dinner, and we can't resist coffee and sharing a slice of key lime pie, nice and tart in a very good graham cracker crust. What a lovely finish.

Longboards is not a restaurant to miss when you’re in the area.  Enjoy.

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