[REVIEW] PB Catch in Palm Beach (FL) Restaurant Review
-Located a short walk from the prestigious Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, PB Catch was opened in 2012 by restauranteur Thierry Beaud and Chef de Cuisine Aaron Black (both from West Palm Beach’s Pistache).
-Inspired by the elegance of a modern luxury yacht, PB Catch has a clear oceanic, nautical vibe to match it’s seafood fare. The first room is filled with spacious high tops and casual lounge seating, as well as a fully stocked and beautiful wooden bar. If I owned a yacht, this would be a must-have feature.
-Between the lounge space and the main dining room is a glowing blue fish tank. These are probably fish you wouldn’t want to eat, but there are plenty in house that you do!
- The seafood bar in the main dining room showcases a wide selection of fresh shellfish on ice, allowing those interested to see what’s on the menu before ordering. The main room showcases clean white leather banquettes and matching stark white walls that are embellished by classic black and white photos on the wall.
-By 8 PM on a Friday night, the space was nearly completely full. Mind you, we were probably some of the youngest folk in the joint. The demographic is 60+ Palm Beach elite, dressed in their taupe suit pants, button ups and suede loafers. Surprisingly, however, the place is totally unpretentious. No necessary dress code, just come as you are. I guess people in Palm Beach are well put together by default.
-To accommodate said demographic, the noise level is buzzing but not loud. I don’t recall any music playing, and if there was, the chatter overwhelmed it. Either way, I felt comfortable throughout the meal. Likewise, the restaurant wasn’t too hot or too cold- a drastic change from it’s neighbouring restaurant (Echo) where I feel the need to bring a hat, pair of mitts and a scarf.
-Service throughout the evening was professional and friendly. Our server ensured our water glasses were always full, and that cutlery and dishware were constantly replenished as needed. He was knowledgeable and honest about the menu options, and made us feel comfortable despite being the youngest folks in the room.
-I loved the pacing of the meal- each dish came one after the other, with just enough time to finish and a moment to breathe before the next one would emerge. It seems like a kind of place where lingering is welcomed, but efficiency is respected- we were in and out in an hour and 30 minutes.
-Mixologist Nick Scalisi has put together a playful list of about 8 cocktails ($12-15) with a strong focus on vodka and gin based drinks. I actually have seen this as quite a trend in Palm Beach- apparently, they bypassed the bourbon trend that overtook 2013. Most of the cocktails feature a lot of fruit, floral and citrus flavours so you won’t find any super dry offerings on the menu, other than their simple Goose & Goat Marini.
-Beer drinkers have a well-rounded selection of domestic and imported bottles ($6-7). In addition to the American microbrews, you’ve also got your standby’s like Stella and Heinekin, and 3 different light beers.
-They also offer a generous selection of 35 or so International wines by the glass – largely from France, Italy and Cali, ranging in price from $9-24. The full list of bottles is organized by region and varietal, with probably around 125 wines to choose from- just enough to provide options but not so much a novice may be totally overwhelmed.
Absolute Vanilla Vodka, Gosling’s Ginger Beer, Fresh Mint, Lime
Saint Margarita ($12)
Camarena Silver Tequila, St. Germain, Cold Pressed Blood Orange
After sampling a few options on behalf of our server, he settled on a well balanced Sonoma Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc ($10), while I went the cocktail route. Both the Vodka and Tequila based drinks were deliciously satisfying, but in the end, the Margarita won me over. I definitely enjoyed the delicate buzz of the spicy ginger beer in the Muudee, but ultimately found it a bit watered down. The Margarita, in contrast, packed a little more flavour in that kept me coming back for more.
-Chef Black’s menu changes daily depending on what the ocean brings in. Considering Florida’s incredible access to fresh, fabulous fish and shellfish, there are a lot of sea-centric restaurants in the area. However, one thing that definitely makes PB Catch stand out is their “Seacuterie” (a cheeky term trademarked by their team). Inspired by the super trendy Charcuterie (salted, smoked, cured meats, pates, terrines, and sausages), their Seacuterie uses the same techniques as seen with pork but, of course, with seafood instead. Seacuterie selections can be chosen in groups of 3 or 6 and are presented together for sharing on a board.
-The remaining sections of the menu include: Raw Bar (9 oysters, clams, snow crab claws, cocktail, platters), Tartares (fish and meat), Daily Specials, Small Plates, Fish, Land (meat and veggie options), and Sides.
Seacuterie ($29 for Choice of 6) Clockwise From Left Corner
Salmon Pastrami (Rye Crouton, Kraut, 1000 Island Aioli)
Lemon & Oregano Smoked Swordfish (Sauce Remoulade)
Coffee Cured Pumpkin Swordfish (Vanilla Crème Fraiche)
Octopus Torchon (Chorizo, Pickled Sweet Corn)
Boquerones (Marinated White Anchovies, Picholine Olives)
Cured Seabass (Red Miso Cured, Crispy Shitake, Sake Aioli, Wakame)
The seacuterie was hit and miss with us. The Boquerones were briny, flavour packed little bites, with enough fat to balance out all that salt. The Seabass was too chewy and tough to enjoy, though the sake aioli had an interesting flavour. The two swordfishes could not have been more different. The lemon and oregano was so perfectly seasoned and fulfilling, it almost tasted like juicy meat. The pumpkin application, on the other hand, was disappointing. I didn’t really notice any pumpkin or coffee flavour imparted on the fish, so the vanilla crème fraiche felt out of place. The octopus also somewhat missed the mark- the torchon was tender but the dish was bland. Considering there were some baby bits of chorizo in there, it just wasn’t enough to season the fish. The result was an overly sweet corn flavour and pretty much nothing else. In contrast, however, the salmon was my absolute fave. When combined with the Russian dressing, the sauerkraut and the crispy little rye, the smoked, seasoned fish tasted exactly like a Reuben.
Crispy Bay Scallops ($15)
Braised Oxtail, Fine Herb Spaetzle, Compressed Green Apple
Loved this and wanted more. The combination of the light and crispy scallops with the rich meaty oxtail, the chewy spaetzle dumplings and the sweet and tangy apple was addictive. A really, really good dish.
Crab & Cauliflower Gratin ($18)
Baked Peekytoe Crab Meat, Roasted Cauliflower, Speck, Aged White Cheddar
Another awesome shareable plate. The crab and cauliflower were so sweet, the flavour almost resembled corn, while the salty speck and aged cheese balanced it out. Nothing could be more comforting than smearing a spoonful of this goodness onto a buttery toasty baguette (which honestly were delicious in their own right). My only criticism, and it’s minor, is that I think this dish could have been elevated with a little bit of heat- something to balance out the sweet, salty richness going on.
Popcorn Shrimp ($14)
Florida Rock Shrimp, Sweet Chili Garlic, and Tartar Dipping Sauces
Our server wasn’t very enthusiastic when we mentioned this selection, which made me hesitant to follow through. But in the end, I was glad we did. The shrimp were fried in a light and crispy batter, that managed to cook the shrimp perfectly without leaving them chewy and overdone. Of the two dips, I actually really liked the less traditional sweet chili, which had a nice level of heat to cut the fat from the fry time.
Caramelized Soy Brussels Sprouts ($9)
My partner and I have a thing for Brussels sprouts, and this was a tasty version. The sweet, salty, umami rich sauce was absolute perfection from a flavour front, but perhaps could have used some reducing time. It was a bit watery in the bottom of the bowl. I also think this dish could have been elevated about 10 fold had the vegetables been roasted and caramelized (as the name suggested) rather than steamed. Regardless, it was delish, and a good way to round out a rich meal.
Key Lime Pie, Coconut Crust ($9)
I’ve eaten a lot of key lime pie in Florida, and this was a solid version. The curd was silky smooth with a good balance of sweet and sour, and the coconut crust lent a really satisfying chewy texture. Leave room for dessert if you can!
-For 2 cocktails, 2 glasses of wine, 1 glass of Sauternes, 1 cappuccino, 6 Seacuterie, 3 small plates, a side dish and dessert, the bill came to $220 including tax and tip. Worth the price? Considering everything but the dessert and side was made of pricey seafood, I’d say it was money well spent.
-Overall, I think PB Catch delivered solid service, a buzzing and unassuming atmosphere, tasty cocktails, and even tastier food. It’s nothing crazy innovative, but the menu offers items that are fun and indulgent, or wholesome and healthy, depending on what your mood and how big of an appetite you have. This is exactly the kind of place I want to eat in while in Palm Beach, and I can’t wait to bring my family with me next year.