32 East


32 East
Our appetizers were Grilled California Asparagus with Lemon Artichoke
Puree, Crumbled Feta and Red Stem Spinach Salad ($15.00), Florida
Beefsteak Tomatoes and Mozzarella Di Bufala with Pickled Onions, Micro
Basil, Unfiltered Olive Oil and 12 year Old Balsamic ($15.00) and Oak Fired
D’Anjou Pears Wrapped in Parma Prosciutto with Four Cheese Fondue,
Candied Walnuts and Spicy Red Watercress ($14.00). Do yourselves a favor
and don’t try to pick one; share and sample.
Our main courses bordered on the divine. Sauté of Alaskan Halibut with Spring
Vegetables, Fingerling Potatoes, Basil and Heirloom Tomato-Lemon Olive Oil
Emulsion ($29.00) was buttery-soft, delicate and balanced to perfection.
The Lemon Thyme Basted Diver Scallops & Niman Ranch Pork Belly on
Creamy “Peas and Carrots” Risotto with Prosciutto-Parmesan Broth ($35.00)
abounds with flavor. Only the great Nick Morfogen could have conceived of this
masterpiece. If it’s available on your visit it’s a treat you will long remember.
By Charles Marcanetti
I want to call this my “Eureka review.” Eureka (Greek “I have found it”) is
an exclamation used as an interjection to celebrate a discovery.
Let there be no uncertainty or ambiguity about my assessment of 32 East:
it is clearly one the finest restaurants in Florida.
I have eaten in great eateries from the left coast to the right coast and up
and down each seaboard, as well as along the belly coast surrounding the
Gulf of Mexico. I’ve dined in cities throughout Mexico, across Canada, and
across the pond to jolly old England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. I’ve
gotten my shirt-cuff soiled with coffee in France and eaten every Braten
and Schnitzel imaginable. I’ve had Danish in Denmark where it’s called
cake and Borscht in every country that claims to have invented it (likely
Russia). Pizza in Italy, Cheese in Switzerland…you get the point!
So why do I reserve my highest accolade for 32 East, located at 32 East
Atlantic Avenue(how curious) in Delray Beach, on Atlantic’s south side,
just east of Swinton? (Reservations - 561- 276-7868)
The restaurant is beautifully appointed, tastefully lighted, comfortably
cooled, and professionally staffed. Even if all that weren’t so, 32 East would
still be rated as a top choice. Why? The answer is simple; because the food
is without equal in its flavor and originality. The food is superior to all
pretenders to the throne in that this eatery has a new menu (70+ %) every
night. It offers foods no other restaurant offers. It offers more than 300
different labels on its wine list. It offers unique dessert creations and coffees
prepared not as an afterthought, but as a topping to an extremely delightful
and quietly joyful evening.
While 32 East is not inexpensive, by comparison to any restaurant which
dares claim to be on its level, it is a real bargain. You actually get far more
than one can expect to get in each: service, quantity, quality and
respectability. As an example of respecting the customer, let me warn you of
an affectation popping up around so-called “tony” establishments, and of
which 32 East is wonderfully devoid. When you are seated the waitperson
asks, “What type of water would you like, sparkling or flat?” You are not
offered tap water. That’s insult number one. Next, whenever the bottle that
was foisted on you runs low and without further inquiry (“Would you like
another bottle?”), a new bottle appears, to add to your tab. That’s insult
number two. The depths some places will stoop to, just to pad the bill, is
pathetic. Demand what you want, even if it is bottled water; tell the
waitperson to ask before bringing any more. 32 East is far too classy to be so
foolish. 32 East is the culinary paradigm.
Our waiter for the evening was Tom House, whose laid-back demeanor
belies his many years of quintessential personal service experience
combined with an absolute knowledge of the product. Tom began by
“bribing” me with a delicate, yet crisp Barolo from Paolo Scavino (2001)
and a delightful Morgan Pinot Noir. The ladies drank their Flirtini and
Classic Martinis (each $12.50) a bit too fast (followed quickly by giggles
and bursting, silly laughter – can’t take them anywhere).The Martinis were
just right…and that’s an art in itself.
All of the breads are home-made and demanding of attention for their
crisp crusts and warm cushiony “meat”. The near legendary Chef, Nick
Morfogen, prepared an evening meal that blew us away. Let’s look at our
evening’s menu:
We started with Cream of Shrimp & White Bean Soup with English Peas,
Orzo and Gremolata ($8.00). A mellow shrimp taste enhanced with a
handful of baby shrimp permeates this lightly rich soup served just hot
enough to make your mouth water.
Now listen to this short rant from an old country boy: venison is either suitable
to be used as the soles on your shoes or a tender-soft, delicately smooth, sensual
fantasy. It is risky to prepare as it goes from the one to the other in the blink of an
eye, and then returns to the first, even quicker. Either you know how to prepare
venison or you are committing chef-suicide. 32 East has mastered the art of
venison presentation with its Grilled Broken Arrow Ranch Venison Medallions
on Soft Polenta, Treviso Salad with Honey, Apples and Sausage Brown Butter
($33.00). If our “cook” at our hunting lodge in the Catskill Mountains of New
York was able to make this dish we never would have gotten the privilege of
sitting on our fat butts in the middle of a cold, damp dead-leaf laden forest
waiting year in and year out for the ever illusive 8 pointer (hmmm).
Next we savored the amazing Grilled Filet Mignon on Creppo Pasta in Wild
Mushroom Cream with Sauté of Green Beans and Carrot, Cabernet Reduction
($43.00). There is almost no available fat in filet mignon. Fat is actually where
the flavor lies in steak. So, my dear friends, we have all come to know that the
secret to filet mignon preparation is in the aging, marinade (if used) and
cooking. The flavor of the oven is transferred to the meat. So, if the oven is also
cooking less sensitive foods, the filet might pick-up that aroma and be ruined, If
the oven temperature is three degrees on either side of accurate the meat is
either under-cooked or over-cooked. It’s an art-form not lost on Chef
Morfogen. Have you ever heard that the meat was so soft we could cut it with
our forks? Well, we did. Wow!
Our evening was concluded with divine creations by Pastry Chef Carmen Ward
who began by serving Chocolate Truffle Mousse Cake with Orange Sorbet
($12.00). This is an absolute must for chocolate lovers. We were next offered
Pineapple-Coconut “Ravioli” with Raspberry Sorbet and Mint Sauce ($10.00)
which is a curious textured blend of a soft sense teasing shell wrapped around an
almost indescribable center that tingles on your tongue. Finally we were served
the Trio of Custards, which arranges White Chocolate Pot d’Crème, with
Lavender Crème Brulee and Coconut Flan ($11.00). These airy, paste-like
delicacies coat one’s palate with the sweet recollections of one’s youth. I must note
that the sorbets are the best tasting home-made cold treats that I’ve experienced
anywhere in Florida. They could easily stand alone and up to any sorbet made
anywhere (Italy and France included).
I conclude by knowing that when I brag of my experience at 32 East and urge all
of you to visit this fantastic eatery I am doing you a service; one I am proud of. I’m
eager to hear back from you about your visit to 32 East.
Our food editor, Charles Marcanetti can be contacted at
[email protected].