Best Restaurant Worth the Drive - 2007
11 Maple Street
There's no good reason to get on the road these days if you can avoid it, and guzzling gallons of gas for something as self-indulgent as a restaurant meal is likely to get one tarred and feathered. But special occasions an anniversary, a proposal, a book deal demand celebratory concessions. A sunset drive north to 11 Maple Street in Jensen Beach (about an hour from Palm Beach, an hour and a half from Lauderdale) is a nostalgic study in what used to be called "the open road." Traffic thins to a trickle on I-95 (the drive up A1A is longer but even more soothing), and by the time you pull up in front of this utterly charming 1905 wood-frame house, draped in string lights and bougainvillaea, you'll be feeling mighty receptive to the meal you're about to be served. Inspired by California chef Alice Waters, self-taught chef Michael Perrin; his wife, Margie; and his mother, Anita, converted the place 20 years ago, using artfully arranged salvage (wood, brick, old windows), exposing the Dade County pine roof; setting sprays of flowers everywhere, lighting everything with candles. The "New American" strengths of this upscale menu lie in seafood and local, organic produce; prices (around $30 average for the entrées) are as rich as the fare. An impossibly sweet crab cake is set over fried green tomatoes; a fillet of grouper of unsurpassed freshness comes with big green capers and fried fennel; Australian barramundi is baked whole. A couple of bites of peanut butter and chocolate pie for dessert will leave you feeling sweet. Bet you hold hands the whole way home.