After four u-turns and failed iPhone directions, I finally spot the wooden sign with an arrow pointing to Cuthill's Backyard in Boynton Beach. As I round the corner, I can see it, a newly erected outdoor bar behind a new wooden fence. It seems a bit out of place, a beachy-looking bar tucked among a bunch of rundown buildings and parking lots.
I walk up to the hostess stand as I enter the restaurant. No signs of a seating chart or menus. I look closer. Apparently, it's a garbage
can. No hostess. Luckily, all of the patrons seem to be drinking. No one noticed.
The entire place is outdoors; it has two bars, a stage, and a converted airstream trailer as a kitchen. There are palm trees, with benches built around the bases, scattered through the premises. Tables butt up to each one. I pick one such table and take a seat. At this point, I'm halfway expecting Jimmy Buffett to pop around the corner.
It is 3 o'clock on a Saturday, and the place is serving brunch and lunch.There is a note off to the side of the menu, "Backyard Cares!!! All meat and fish are fresh never frozen. Vegetables are purchased from local farmers whenever possible. Be patient all food is prepared fresh to order." I peruse for a moment: blue and white pancakes, blueberry buttermilk pancakes with shaved white chocolate and warm sugar cane syrup topped with a special blend of sweet butter ($12), eggs and cochon de lait, poached farm-fresh eggs, swamp ape braised pork shoulder on top of buttermilk biscuits and Hollandaise sauce ($14), conch fritters ($11), tacos with chicken, fish, steak, or pulled pork ($9).
I settle on the fish tacos and a Bahama Mama, a huge and very sweet drink. The bartender comes over to ask what I think. "It's good," I reply.
"Oh. That's not the one I wanted you to try. I'm trying out a new tequila. I'm going to try to put it on the menu," he says as he walks back to the bar. He comes back with another island-looking drink. This one has Cuervo 1800 coconut tequila, pineapple, and grenadine. Too sweet for me, but a nice gesture.
By the time my fish tacos arrive, I am midway through a conversation with the table next to me. It's definitely that kind of place. You can walk in by yourself and start chatting away. I pause the conversation to eat. The blackened dolphin is mild. All of the ingredients are fresh, and they blend well together. It's decent, healthy bar fare.
While I'm eating, I start up a conversation with the server. He tells me that the place has been open for about three months; the owner, James Hall, has been constantly updating ever since. He has purchased all of the adjacent property. The plan is to install a pool in the lot next door and an upscale restaurant across the street. All of the renovations are part of the Boynton Beach Community Redevelopment Agency with community development grants. So far, it seems to be working. It's about to rain, and the bar is fairly busy. My server informs me that on weekend evenings, it's packed. The place has live bands every night.
As I cash out, it starts to drizzle. Apparently, I'm the only one rushing to get out. As I make my way, my friends from the table next ask, "Are you going to leave your drinks?"
"Do you want them? I have to drive," I say as I slide off the bench. It's just that kind of place, a place where you can walk in alone and leave with new friends who are willing to drink the remnants of your drink. If it weren't for the drive, I would have stayed and had a ridiculously good time.