Chez Jean Pierre Palm Beach (Fl) Restaurant Review
My dining agenda on this year's trip down to Florida has really been a mis-match of tradition and new experiences. While we normally try to avoid the high-brow BS of old school Palm Beach establishments, I had read so many solid reviews of Chez Jean Pierre that I figured it was worth an exception. Plus, we had had so much fresh, delicious, healthy fish and seafood the whole trip that I figured a good hearty meal would make for a satisfying final night out.Chef Jean-Pierre Leverrier has been serving up classic French bistro fare since 1991. While not much to look at from the outside, the restaurant itself is sprawling and hopping inside. Nearly full on a Tuesday night, the two massive rooms are decorated with avande garde sculptures and unusual paintings. We were sat at a two top booth along the wall, plopped in the middle of what seemed like the underground high society of Palm Beach. It was an interesting experience in itself. A little uncomfortable, but interesting.
Service was blase and uninterested, to say the least. While cutlery and water was replenished appropriately, every request or question to our server seemed like a huge imposition (i.e. asking what kind of vegetables were in the soup was answered by a sigh and "all of them"). But really, looking around, should I have expected anything else?
Cocktails were a disappointment, mainly because I didn't have one. I asked for a cocktail menu, but they didn't offer a menu and I feared asking if they could make this or that would just result in another round of sighs. Alas, I digressed and went for the wine. Going with our server's recommendation for something more floral, I ended up with a Sauvignon Blanc (probably my least favourite white variety, generally speaking). Thankfully, both of us ended up enjoying our choices.
Foodwise, the menu is large, simple and old school. I wasn't as much excited by the appetizer options which was populated predominantly by simple salads that I can make easily at home, but the main courses were all really enticing. We ended up going with:
Feuillete of Escargots with Shiitake Mushrooms, Garlic Cream Sauce, in a Puff Pastry
This was cooked exceptionally well, and the puff pastry was a luxurious touch (as if escargot in a cream sauce wasn't luxurious enough). My only quibble was that I found the sauce a touch underseasoned, but otherwise a delicious dish.
Pureed Vegetable Soup
This was just okay, but like I said, I wasn't very excited by the appetizer menu, so I figured I would play it safe. Again, I felt it was underseasoned, and was screaming for some sort of garnish to take it from cafeteria food to high end bistro. Also, way too big of a portion. I would have to be incredibly hungry to finish this boat of soup while in anticipation of our main meal.
Fresh Artichoke with Vinaigrette
Very old school, simple and delicious but we both agreed it would have been much better had it been served warm.
Beef Short Ribs with Bourguignon Sauce and Mashed Potatoes
Massive portion, and very rich. The meat was impossibly tender and seasoned well, I just felt the sauce could have used a touch more acid as there was still a bit of the raw wine flavour lingering. The mashed potatoes were basic, and smooth, but cold, which was a stark contrast to the steaming hot beef.
Cheesecake with Black Cherry Sauce
Probably one of the richest cheesecakes I have ever tasted. It lacked the mild tart flavour that I love in a traditional NY style, but wasn't light and fluffy like some Italian (ie. ricotta) versions. Certainly too much rich creaminess for one person, but delicious none the less. I was particularly grateful for the cherries to cut through some of that richness, I only wished I had more of them!
So for 3 glasses of wine, 3 appetizers, 2 mains and 1 dessert, the bill came to about $225 including tax and tip. Pricey, certainly, but again this is Palm Beach. We both enjoyed our meal, and when we're looking for a break from seafood (and can appreciate an old school dining atmosphere), this will be the place to go.