By Thom Smith Maria Muldaur, Devon Allman, Cephas & Wiggins, Marcia Ball, John Hammond, John Sebastian. For nearly a decade, appearances by such acts made the Bamboo Room in Lake Worth one of the premier live music venues in the Southeast. But when the economy went south two years ago, the performers decided they weren’t about to follow, and with much regret Russ Hibbard decided to shut down.
“We remain optimistic that the cultural and economic climate will improve,” Hibbard wrote in a farewell note on Bamboo’s Web site in May 2008.
Well, the climate is improving, and though nothing has been announced yet, Hibbard has told friends that Bamboo Room will reopen soon. The timing has to be right, he said.
Stay tuned.
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Delray a dining magnet? Sure looks that way. Of course, Nick Morfogen has been a star at 32 East for years, but now he’ll have some noteworthy company with the arrival of Allen Susser and Mark Militello, two of the seminal forces behind “Floribbean” cuisine.
Susser is partnering with Robert Workman, a local property developer, to open Taste, a gastropub, in the hot little enclave of Pineapple Grove early in 2010.
It’ll be a dramatic departure from Chef Alan’s, his legendary restaurant in Aventura, as he’ll offer American “pub” fare foods — sliders, sandwiches “with a little South Florida flavor.”
“I love Delray,” Susser told food blogger and Coastal Star writer Jan Norris. “It’s a quiet little community on the ocean, with nice energy and it has a real sense of that community. I like that. That’s the more important thing about opening a new restaurant to me. It will be a part of a real community instead of a restaurant coming in and saying ‘Let’s see how much money we can make.’ ”
Sliders also are expected on the menu at The Office, a joint effort between Militello and David Manero who gave Delray Sopra, Shore and Gotham and Vic and Angelo’s. They hope to open The Office, at Atlantic and Northeast Second Avenue formerly occupied by Louie Louie Too, by year’s end.
Previously a presence in Palm Beach County, Militello was chef/owner of Mark’s CityPlace and Mark’s Mizner Park.
“I’m still working on the menu,” Militello told Norris, “but it will be eclectic American. Upscale, gastropub, with an emphasis on local products and growers, fresh seafoods.”
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Pauline and Tom Smith (no relation) finally have Pauline's (formerly planned as Marley’s Island Time Grill) open at 800 Palm Trail, just off George Bush Boulevard. The Smiths took over what used to be the Pineapple Grille and are offering a backbreaking three “Island-style” meals a day.
Breakfast offers Rasta Ital (three egg whites, cheese, two veggies and and English muffin) for $5.75, or Grandma Muller’s Eggs (two eggs fried in a pan of bacon over toast) for $5.25. At lunch, curried chicken will set you back $9.75, fresh fish sandwich with a side of greens $9.75. Oxtail dinner runs $17, coconut shrimp $16.50.
“We’re working at it,” Pauline said. “We’ve started bringing in Screamin’ Jerry Leeman on Friday nights and for Sunday brunch.”
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Also in full flourish is the Seagate Hotel, the swank new hotel that welcomed its first guests on Nov. 1. It has 162 rooms, a spa, two pools and connection to the Seagate Club on the beach. The stylish sea-themed decor includes wave-theme motifs on the walls and aquariums populated with eels and anemones.
Locals, however, are more likely to be concerned with the social life. To that end, both the main restaurant, Atlantic Grille, and the bar open onto Atlantic Avenue and offer indoor or patio dining and socializing.
Exec Chef Adam Gottlieb has worked up an American menu that includes cheddar bacon sirloin burgers for $13, mahi sandwiches for $15, bouillabaisse for $29 and 14-ounce New York strips for $38.
It remains to be seen if the beach crowd from Boston’s and the west of Federal gang can find common ground at the Seagate.
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Never a dull moment at Il Bacio, the new eclectic Italian eatery and night spot just south of Atlantic on Second Avenue in Delray. On the night before Thanksgiving, it hosted a party to introduce the Palm Beaches to the Miami Caliente — that’s hot en Español — South Florida’s entry into, get this, the Lingerie Football League.
It’s tackle football, just like the Dolphins and the Gators, except they play seven against seven on a 50-yard field. Players wear helmets and shoulder pads, but who needs jerseys! The rest of their uniforms amount to color coordinated bras and panties with numbers embossed on the back.
George Halas and Knute Rockne never had this in mind.
The new league plays a four-game schedule before the playoffs which culminate with the Lingerie Bowl to be played a week before the Super Bowl. The Caliente, which plays at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, already has a 2-1 record. Sadly, none of the 20 players on the roster calls Palm Beach County home, and don’t expect to see Tim Tebow offering endorsements, although this wild and crazy group is guided by a former Gator quarterback, Bob Hewko, who in one inspired halftime talk, exhorted his charges with, “There’s no crying in football.” (For more information: www.lflus.com/miamicaliente)
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St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is just a couple of blocks west of Il Bacio, but needless to say, it serves a different clientele. For 20 years it has ministered to the community through the Turnover Shop, a thrift store housed in the 107-year-old Wuepper House at 10 NE Fifth Ave. In recent years, however, the floors were wearing thin, so in September, the church closed it down to replace the floor and spruce it up.
In these tough times, thrift stores are enjoying resurgence and at the Nov. 21 reopening the regulars were joined by some new customers. Not only do they provide low-cost merchandise and clothing, but the proceeds help provide hot meals for dozens of children in the church’s after-school program in Delray Beach and daily meals for 200 children St. Mary Madeleine School in Bondeau.
“It was wonderful, ” store manager Shelly Seales said. “We had a lovely time. Once we got all the paper off the wall and cleaned up, we thought, ‘Oh it looks really nice.’ We’re really glad to be open again.”
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No, they won’t paint the hotel pink. But in support of the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s Race for the Cure in West Palm Beach on Jan. 30, the Ritz-Carlton in Manalapan is offering a “Sweet Dreams for the Cure” pink package during January.
In addition to the room, guests receive two pink bath robes, two pairs of fluffy pink socks, two pink 300-count pillowcases monogrammed with the guest’s initials, Sole Foot Delight treatment with pedicure in the spa and a pink welcome cupcake. The special room rates begin at $569 and the Ritz-Carlton will donate 5 percent of the rate to the Komen Foundation.

— Thom Smith is a freelance writer. He can be reached at thomsmith@ymail.com
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