Personal Best Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach 2008 - Dennis Williams
Call Rhythm Café in West Palm Beach schlocky, and you'll get no argument from the proprietors. The place (3800 S. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach) is brimming with pop art, thrift store leftovers, books, Florida memorabilia, a disco ball, and, well, junk. But don't diss the food. Co-owner Dennis Williams, along with chef Ken Rzab and sous chef Kurt Kamm give the food a long, creative ride.
You have the cutest, coziest little restaurant.
Thanks. We're a very small place. We only have 12 tables and 15 bar seats —we opened in a space that used to be an old drugstore so we kept the lunch counter and made that into the bar. We only have three wait staff.
How long have you been around?
Twenty years. My partner and I each graduated from the Culinary Institute of America — they call it the Harvard of cooking schools — and worked for the original owner; then he sold it to us 15 years ago. We make everything ourselves — from the bread to all the entrees. Sauces, dressings, desserts. Even ice cream. The menu changes frequently. We have five favorite entrees that are always on there — like pan-seared duck, Key lime chicken, crab cakes. Then we'll do things like duck risotto or pork schnitzel. We call it "creative homestyle food" — it's creative, but the elements are things people recognize.
How do you get your inspiration?
A customer might make a suggestion. Wait staff might put in their two cents. We might be at the computer and say, "Hmm, we're getting salmon tomorrow, and someone will shout, 'Hey, let's try this kind of sauce.' "
So, with the kitschy décor, you must have some favorite B movies.
I love Strictly Ballroom. It's an Australian film — so campy and funny. I've been taking ballroom dance lessons for a year and a half. Then there's The Sound of Music —not really a B-movie, but it's one of those things I don't really tell people I watch!