Gratify in West Palm Beach Should Be Better Than It Is

I've got some major beef with the potato chips served at Gratify. These chips, the bar's equivalent of complimentary bread and butter, are crinkle-cut and fried in-house, which is admirable. But they're also sliced so thick that, in order to get them to crisp, the kitchen has to practically burn them. What you end up with is a basket of potatoes either bottom-of-the-fryer brown, or soggy and limp without any sort of satisfying crackle.

My friends and I wondered during a recent visit to Gratify, downtown West Palm's newest gastropub, why anyone would go through all the effort to hand-cut and then fry potato chips like this when the end result is markedly worse than just popping open a bag of Ruffles. "These chips are just awful," one of my friends commented. "And there's not even salt on the table to make them any better."

The answer, we found, came from the menu itself. The restaurant offers a basket of "pub chips" for $6 — the very same potato chips you get for free, only with a trio of dipping sauces to accompany them.

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

Gratify American Gastropub

125 Datura St.
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: West Palm Beach

Details

Gratify, 125 Datura St., West Palm Beach. Open for dinner from Monday through Wednesday 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday through Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 3 a.m., and Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Call 561-833-5300, or click here.

I'll play devil's advocate for a moment: Maybe those thick, underseasoned chips do work fine for scooping up the sauces (French onion, blue cheese, and wasabi mustard, for the record). But who would actually order a basket after tasting the subpar free helping is anyone's guess.

If I'm combing over every detail of these chips, it's only because their execution perfectly exemplifies Gratify as a whole. There's actually a lot to like about the modern-looking gastropub, which moved into the spot vacated by Spoto's Oyster Bar in February. It has an eclectic and imaginative menu. And with its small-but-intelligent drink list, including plenty of craft beers and inexpensive bottles of wine, it's poised to be an approachable neighborhood bar. But it seems that for each edgy or innovative idea in place at Gratify, there's something equally daft gumming up the works.

Take the restaurant's version of St. Louis ribs ($12), which I ordered during a lunchtime visit with a friend. It was during the Palm Beach Boat Show, and both the streetside seating and the slick, question mark-shaped bar were packed with folks looking to escape the sun with a pint of beer. We took a seat in the restaurant's only section of interior tables, which runs along a wall-length bench, and dug into the ribs, which were stacked like logs in a campfire.

The analogy isn't far off, actually. Though the ribs were creatively dressed with tart and flavorful balsamic-shallot vinaigrette instead of ordinary barbecue sauce, many of the black, sad spears were leathery and charred completely. "It's a shame," my companion remarked. "The few that aren't burnt taste really, really good."

It is a shame, because these types of small plates seem to be the focus at Gratify. They comprise well over half the menu, and their range is diverse enough to cover four restaurants or more. There are risotto balls, curried Prince Edward mussels, flat breads with mozzarella and pesto, and wild mushrooms spread between layers of phyllo. Add to that finger foods, like bowls of Greek olives with garlic and platters of antipasto, which compete against polar opposites like a tower of crabmeat graced with pink grapefruit and micro greens from nearby Swank Farms. I can really get behind the eclectic selection in theory: Offering a little bit of this and that for the beer-drinking crowd seems like a swell idea. But in practice, the "try to please everyone" approach leads to some fairly odd dinner choices and, more important, serious problems with consistency.

For example, on that same visit, my friend and I shared a bowl of bouncy-fresh Florida rock shrimp sautéed and then buoyed by a helping of Manchego-laced grits ($12). The grits had an appealing coarse texture and great flavor. But they were marred by a too-thin sauce of tomato, garlic, and bell pepper that watered down the whole bowl.

An order of pork tacos ($10) was the same in that if you took away the acrid salsa and burnt tortilla, the roasted pork and queso fresco filling would've been pretty damn tasty. Chicken wings ($8), another bar food staple, were lavished in a rich sauce of rosemary, Parmesan, and garlic. But they were also soggy and limp where they should have been crisp and satisfying.

It could be that Gratify is trying too hard to be edgy when it should just get back to basics. Take a turkey and egg sandwich ($9), which the menu advises comes on grilled sourdough. The pile of lunch meat is stacked high with arugula, overly thick tomato, melted Muenster cheese, and a fried egg, the last of which drips yolk over the meaty tower. Sure, egg yolk is a tasty thing — but it makes for one helluva heavy sandwich. And it would be nice if the menu mentioned it was open-faced. My friend, who stabbed at the big, dripping pile with his fork, thought so too. "If you've got to eat it with a fork and a knife, then it's not a sandwich," he said.

Gratify's space also suffers from some big oversights. The restaurant's glass façade opens up to that curvy bar and a modern-looking interior that showcases an impressive liquor collection and a few plasma TVs tuned to basketball and golf. Beyond that is another lacquered, wooden bar top sitting right up against the open kitchen. The idea, I suppose, is to have folks who come in for small bites plant themselves at the bar and watch the chefs go to work.

1
 
2
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
4 comments
Sfmamma
Sfmamma

I don't know what this critic is talking about... Perhaps he needs to get out of wpm- I have lived all over the world, currently live in san franciso (where we know great food!) and thought be food was not only delicious bit great value.... My wife and I enjoyed the fish tacos and hearts of palm - had great veggie options and something for every palate, unified by use of fresh ingredients (including fabulous fish) and inventive flavors. If you want st Louis style ribs, maybe you should go to a chain rib joint. If you want an interestjng spin on original standards, this place is worth checking out....

sara
sara

We come up to WPB all the time and have on occasion eaten at Gratify which has in my opinion some tast appetizers such as the potato skins and chicken wings which are not on the menu. However, there deceptive advertising has gotten us on more than one occasion. Earlier this summer, we sit at an outside table, eat, drink and so forth. We then proceed to move to Clematis where a bartender informs us that Gratify has all day happy hour if you sit outside or at the bar...Well really not for us...they charged us full price. The next time we go there I inquire what is the best place to sit for happy hour. I mentioned to the manager last time we were in they charged us full price. He of course apologized and that was it. Then 2 weeks ago, we went back to watch college football. They had a blackboard posted informing patrons all day happy hour til 9 at bar/outside (no specific drinks listed). We go in and sit at the bar order drinks and 4 drinks later our drink tab is now over $60 for Captain Morgan and Absolut. The bartender says sorry for the misunderstanding that happy hour is not on these drinks. I will never go there again and unfortunately for them, the PB boat show won't be supporting their deceptive crap again either....Watch who you screw...

Mark
Mark

Can you read, Sfmamma? The reviewer wasn't looking for St. Louis ribs - in fact, he praised the unconventional balsamic-shallot vinaigrette on them. His beef was that they were burnt. You also might know that Gratify has overhauled its entire menu since this review. Very little remains the same.

Youreanidiot
Youreanidiot

Absolut and Captain Morgan are not happy hour drinks in any bar. They are both call liquors, and nearly every bar with happy hour specials does them on wells only.

 
Loading...