Is this the gayest season the Kravis Center in West Palm has ever produced? Let’s see; so far, we’ve seen Johnny Mathis (gay) and “A Night of Stars” with Tommy Tune (gay) and Angela Lansbury (gay icon).
The Broadway at Kravis schedule just closed “Neverland” and is currently running “Chicago,” followed by “Cabaret,” “The Bodyguard” and “A Chorus Line.” Coming up we’ve got shows with Audra McDonald and a tribute to ABBA. There’s even been a show called, “10 Hairy Legs: Celebrating the Artistry of the Male Dancer!” With all the running back and forth to West Palm, my car can probably make the trip on its own by now.
The problem is, if shows are at 8 p.m. and you leave the Wilton Manors area at 6 p.m., you’ve got to battle rush hour traffic and the trip takes two hours. So, we leave at 5 p.m., get there by 6 p.m. and it leaves us enough time for a leisurely meal before the show. The nice thing is that the CityPlace mall is less than a block from the Kravis Center, so there are plenty of dining options at all price levels within walking distance from the theater and many restaurants offer free parking in the mall’s lot.
City Cellars is one of my favorite places in CityPlace and it is conveniently located on the second level, just off the escalator and near the parking garage. The varied menu has delicious hearth baked pizza, dry aged steaks, fresh pasta and seafood. A small plates menu is offered featuring a daily flatbread, lobster mac ‘n cheese and other daily specials. A rotating menu of hard to find artisanal cheeses is available as well. Desserts are all enticing, all house made and all very tasty. The large dining room still manages to feel cozy and features a floor to ceiling glass enclosed wine cellar and the outdoor patio is nicely sheltered and comfy. City Cellar’s vast wine collection can be sampled by the bottle, glass or flight, and service is impeccable.
On our most recent visit we started with small plates. I chose the grilled octopus as it is a dish by which I judge many restaurants. Prepared correctly the octopus should have the consistency midway between a sea scallop and shrimp and should melt in your mouth. I’m happy to report that City Cellars was among the best I’ve even enjoyed, rich and sumptuous, served with roasted fingerling potatoes and a drizzle of vinaigrette. It’s a dish that lets you know the folks in the kitchen know what they’re doing; cook octopus a few second too long and it’s a rubber band. Not so here.
For our entrees, my hubby thoroughly enjoyed his rich and decadent blue crab crusted Chilean sea bass. The house specialty features an inch-thick mound of shellfish on a hearty portion of fish, topped with beurre blanc and accompanied by roasted fingerling potatoes and crisp asparagus. Meanwhile, I, who put on a few pounds during the holidays, went a healthier route and enjoyed an entrée salad of quinoa with free range grilled chicken, dried cranberries, feta, pine nuts, mint, basil, arugula, spinach, cucumbers, tomato, lemon vinaigrette. The salad was so large I couldn’t finish it and I in no way felt I was denying myself (but, I must admit that 16 oz. bone-in strip being served to a neighboring table did make my mouth water).
We had just enough time before our show to indulge in dessert. My husband splurged on the “One Banana, Two Bananas” option which showcased banana-chocolate bread pudding and toasted walnuts, topped with charred banana gelato. OMG! I maintained my resolve and ordered a cheese course. This was the only let-down of the meal. The cheeses were all perfectly fine, but when ordering a cheese course in place of dessert, the selection should focus on creamy and nutty cheeses. The plate I was served included hearty Marieke Gouda, goat feta marinated in olive oil, garlic, and black peppercorns and Tete De Moine, Abbey Bellelay, which has a beer-washed rind. These savory cheeses were served with pickled vegetables. Smoother cheeses served with dried fruit or quince paste would have been more appropriate for dessert. Our otherwise attentive waiter didn’t seem to notice or either didn’t know. I was fairly full anyway and left most of the cheese untouched and nibbled on a few of the Marcona almonds.
That one faux pas was certainly not enough to ruin what proved to be a delightful pre-theater supper. The walk to the theater gave us just enough time to digest and we settled into our seats just as the orchestra started to play.
Among the other dining options at City Place are:
Brother Jimmy’s BBQ
Burger & Beer Joint
Sweet Ginger Asian Bistro
And that doesn’t even include the chain restaurants located in the mall; Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Blue Martini, Cheesecake Factory, Brio, Burger Fi, Cabo Flats, Mellow Mushroom, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Panera, and Saito’s Japanese Steakhouse, among others.