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Review: Lindsay Autry's Regional Kitchen is tops in West Palm Beach

Correspondent

 

★★★★

The culinary stars aligned in September when chef Lindsay Autry and restaurateur Thierry Beaud opened the Regional Kitchen and Public House in West Palm Beach's CityPlace. A fateful consulting gig between the pair in 2014 became the cornerstone of what would be a much larger endeavor.

As owner of Titou Hospitality, which operates Pistache French Bistro and Paneterie Café in downtown West Palm Beach and PB Catch Seafood & Raw Bar and Patrick Léze in Palm Beach, Beaud brings a solid foundation of operational finesse. Autry, meanwhile, has been preparing for this moment for years.

With a culinary arts degree from Johnson & Wales University, Autry established a name for herself while working with chef Michele Bernstein. As Bernstein's sous chef, she opened restaurants in Mexico and the Caribbean, eventually landing at the Mandarin Oriental's Azul in Miami. After appearing in 2012 as a finalist on Bravo's "Top Chef," Autry became executive chef at Bernstein's restaurant at the Omphoy Ocean Resort in Palm Beach. This was followed by a stint at the historic Sundy House in Delray Beach. The Regional is a culmination of these experiences, influenced by Autry's native North Carolinian roots and the Mediterranean flavors of her Greek grandmother's cooking. As the name implies, the Regional Kitchen offers seasonal menus focused on sustainable, locally sourced ingredients.

The 10,000-square-foot space includes an open kitchen and a separate bar and lounge area, the Public House, just off the main dining room. High tin ceilings add an airiness to the casual yet refined design. Foodcentric photographs and shadowboxes of culinary collections reflect Autry's personality. Framed vintage seed packets and prints of botanical produce pay tribute to her family's farm life. All are tastefully displayed without a hint of kitsch.

Since our table enjoys communal grazing, we opted for several small plates in lieu of main courses. Our adept and patient server maintained a comfortable pace as we meandered through the menu. Dinner began with a young gent full of Southern hospitality preparing pimento cheese ($12) from a tableside cart. Amounts and garnishes of dill, parsley, piquillo and jalapeno peppers, bacon or Florida blue crab ($4) are decided by diners. Housemade crackers and seasonal crudité — on this night radish, carrots and celery — act as vehicles for the tasty spread. The tomato pie ($11), with a buttery, flaky, golden-brown puff-pastry crust is filled with roasted tomatoes, cheddar, caramelized onions and dill. A delicate egg base binding it all together was the equivalent of a perfectly cooked, uber creamy pot de crème.

Feta and toasted herbed breadcrumbs decorated a soup bowl as our server poured an earthy mushroom bisque ($8). My vegetarian dining partner was over-the-top happy with the number of interesting choices the menu afforded her, including the hearty, innovative sunflower-seed risotto ($7) with tomato, Brussels sprout leaves and fresh herbs finished with a dollop of mascarpone. Shaved, sweet Honeycrisp apple slices, tangy Point Reyes toma cheese and crunchy, pumpkin-seed granola formed a harmonious trio when presented on the Local little gem salad ($12), dressed with a balanced honey-and-cider vinaigrette. Old Bay seasoning keeps things classic on the pickled shrimp ($12) with sweet onions, roasted tomatoes, avocado and radish. Chorizo adds a kick of smoky spice to the tender, nicely charred grilled octopus ($14), served over braised sunflower seeds and tomato sauce. Autry takes her roasted bone marrow ($18) to new heights by pairing it with shredded barbecued short rib and crispy onions, complemented by acidic, pickled-red-wine-vinegar shallots to cut the fatty richness. It almost put me over the edge. I couldn't help myself, and slathered it on the grilled bread, anyway.

Although we were extremely satiated, there was no way were leaving without trying pastry chef Sarah Sipe's creations. Sipe and Autry have a long history, having teamed up in several kitchens throughout their careers. I was glad to hear they'd reunited again. Sipe has a knack for creating scrumptious, well balanced and beautifully presented desserts with a touch of whimsy. We really should have stopped with the order of bite-size ice cream sandwiches, filled with vanilla, banana and chocolate ice cream ($6). But the desserts were simply irresistible. A killer, four-layer carrot cake ($6) laced with ginger, pecans and raisins gained a super moist crumb from Duke's Mayonnaise. The flaky hand pie ($6), filled with pumpkin, pear and perhaps cardamom, tasted like a pocketful of fall. Bites of brownie, sauteed banana, peanut brittle, caramel sauce and whipped cream topped banana ice cream on a decadent chocolate banana sundae ($10).

There are still a few items from the three menu headers — From the Pantry, Warm and Soulful, and Greens and Things — that I plan to try on my next visit. These include the housemade Parker House Rolls ($6) with "everything" butter, the crispy pork belly ($14) with Brunswick stew and fall Florida vegetables; the grilled broccoli and cheese ($7) with Parmesan and gremolata; the chicken noodle soup ($8) with hand-cut dumplings, chicken confit; and the country-style sausage ($10) with field-pea cassoulet, wilting greens, potlikker and poached egg.

Large plates fall under the To Share or Not To Share menu section, which offers a more traditional dining experience. Plan on not sharing. Main-course highlights include grilled snapper in banana leaf ($28) with green-tomato salsa verde and roasted market vegetables; Berkshire pork shank ($26) with creamed hominy, roasted carrots and pozole verde; and grilled Creekstone Farms rib-eye ($34) with smashed potatoes and grilled broccoli and cheese.

The Regional Kitchen and Public House

CityPlace, 651 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach

561-557-6460, EatRegional.com

Cuisine: Modern Southern, focused on seasonal, local ingredients

Cost: Moderate

Hours: Dinner nightly; Saturday and Sunday brunch

Reservations: Accepted

Credit cards: All major

Bar: Separate bar and lounge

Sound level: Conversational

Outside smoking: Yes

Wheelchair accessible: Yes

Parking: Valet and garage

Kids: Booster seats and highchairs

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