Wednesday, January 9, 2013 at 8:45 a.m.
Bistro 241 is the newest addition to downtown Delray Beach's quiet Pineapple Grove art district, located just a few blocks north of the bustling restaurant scene off Atlantic Ave.
Owner Elie Boueri -- whose father was among the first to bring food to the charming area with Joseph's Wine Bar and Cafe five years ago -- quietly opened Bistro 241 in early December. Named for the address, it's a more casual extension of Joseph's, whose tiny space offers continental cuisine with a hint of Middle Eastern influences, and a well-equipped wine menu of more than 300 selections.
At Bistro 241, the menu focuses on "cuisine du marché," a French phrase that roughly translates to "cooking from the market," a kitchen where the chef buys what is needed fresh daily. With South Florida's myriad farms, local fisherman and wealth of independent markets, it's a concept that seems doable -- even if hard to execute.
Bistro 241 makes it possible by utilizing plenty of locally-grown, seasonal veggies, a series of small and main plates that focus on traditional, home-style comfort foods that -- like Joseph's -- have a certain Mediterranean twist ($10-$15).
Starter plates are a mix of old and new, from everyone's favorite calamari to an array of colorful salads -- each given a small tweak ($10 - $16). The Maryland crab cake martini, for example, is served with a rosemary and honey infused Greek yogurt and a layer of shaved cucumber "spaghetti," while a foie gras mousse is stuffed into tempura-fried squash blossoms, sounding decadent with toasted pine nuts and truffle shavings for garnish. A simpler dish: the short rib bolognese made with an a la minute sauce and topped with house-made whipped ricotta cheese.
Main plates are on the pricey side ($24 - $34), but it's what you get that counts. Expect dishes with plenty of color and flavor. Take the Atlantic salmon, served with a rainbow of vegetables -- there's a lemon hummus, rapini, and tomato-cucumber salad dressed in lemon-herb vinaigrette. The 14-ounce porterhouse pork chop is given an even more detailed sideline, with sweet potato puree, braised swiss chard and applewood smoked bacon, caramelized onion and peaches with roasted red grape glaze.
Bistro's 2,400-square-foot interior space is split between dining room and white marble-topped bar. The decor is simple and comfortable, with pillowy-soft velveteen-covered chairs and oversized red leather bar seats. Floor to ceiling windows run the length of one wall, looking out over a narrow walkway where the Boueri's make room for outdoor seating.
"[My family] was among the first to invest in this area, and we're happy to see it grow," said Boueri, whose entire family -- including mother and sister -- help to run both restaurants. "Bistro 241 is exactly what the area needed: a lunch and dinner spot with great food, good wine and a modern look."