Prime-al Scene

While we Palm Beach downtown-watchers weren't watching, something weird happened. West Palm Beach, with all its pomp and hubris, its master plans, mayoral specifying, scads of money, and fancypants developers, went precisely nowhere. Meanwhile, the little town that could, Lake Worth, a few miles south, took off like a high-speed bullet train. On Lake Avenue, even on a drizzly Monday night in early October, the restaurants and bars are packed and noisy. There's a scent of grilled steaks and conch fritters in the air. Spilled ice cream in the gutters. Music live enough to cause complaints from residents. Dave Matthews spotted dining at Prime 707. Ka-ching!

Angelo Abbenante opened Prime 707 (707 Lake Ave., Lake Worth, 561-533-0000) in February with some advice from his father, Rafael, proprietor of 30-year-old Lynora's in Greenacres. They put in the antique brick walls themselves and a spiffy bar and hired sexy beasts dressed in black to work the front of the house. The steaks at Prime 707 are nice cuts of meat carefully cooked and reasonably priced. A major slab of prime rib, oozing juices and swaddled in luscious fat, can be had for $22. Grilled skirt steak is even cheaper at $19. The pricier cuts, filet mignon, a 20-ounce porterhouse, a New York strip, run $29 to $36. They don't soak you on the sides; the prime rib comes with creamed spinach and garlic mash; the skirt steak with shoestring fries and charred tomatoes; the filet with roasted garlic, red onion, bacon, and potato hash. A cold wedge of iceberg lettuce ($8) makes an ideal starter, doused with a rich, blue-cheese buttermilk dressing. Or fashion a rich but light meal of an appetizer of grilled polenta with portabella mushrooms ($10). There were one or two off dishes: a fishy lump-crab and avocado tower looked a lot better than it tasted. And my glass of Erath pinot noir ($9) was well past its prime; it should have been used for salad dressing.

These couple of short blocks are now home to three French and four Italian restaurants, an Irish pub, a Hungarian café, a tapas bar, an upscale seafood place, a jazzy American bistro, a Jewish deli, a Mexican takeout, a martini bar, two sushi bars, a tropical breakfast fest, ye olde ice cream shoppe, and beer and burgers aplenty. And now a swanky steak house. I hear Starbuck's is coming. Buckle up, babies; this train is leavin' the station.

 
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