Best Restaurant/Palm Beach County - 2000
One Hundred South Ocean/La Vieille Maison/Peter's Stone Crabs (tie)
If you're honest about it, Acquario is a mall restaurant. OK, so that mall is the Esplanade, on chichi Worth Avenue, the aptly named street of commerce in Palm Beach, where real estate is mogul territory. And yes, the complex is hardly Jersey mallrat quality, since all the stores are both genteel and pricey. Perhaps it's fitting, then, that Acquario, located in the back of the structure on the top floor, is a sedate, plush dining experience. Check loud voices at the door and sink into plush carpeting. Traditional décor, including oil paintings and crystal light fixtures, evoke the charm of European drawing rooms. But it's chef Theo Schoenegger's contemporary Mediterranean cuisine -- quail grilled with so many herbs it's a veritable Simon and Garfunkel song or lobster risotto with asparagus -- that clinches the deal with the decisiveness of a CEO. Of course, you might need your friendly CEO to pick up the bill, which like everything else in the area can be, um, a little high. But then what's pleasure that you don't somehow pay for?