Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray Beach is an area well-known for fine dining. But not every restaurant can be on the Ave. itself, no matter how good the food. And sometimes, being a bit hidden, has its advantages. If you've driven through this area, on Federal Highway you might have noticed the beautiful elephant doors and swinging lanterns. Those doors open to a garden oasis -- and it's just far enough from the ado of Atlantic Avenue.
Brother-sister co-owners of Lebanese descent, Leo Khoury and Olga Khoury fashion their inspirations of both food and ambience around the true meaning of being "eclectic".
"In life [and in] food we are exposed to a lot of doctrines. It is our choice to pick through and create our own beliefs, styles and methods," Leo Khoury says.
He explains that, for them, "eclectic" refers to their ideology of food. The menu exemplifies this, with cuisine that traverses the Mediterranean, pulling from multicultural influences, all made with fresh herbs from their on-premises garden.
With a strong emphasis on sustainability, the duo and their team utilize ideals from their upbringing, raised on handpicked produce and meats fresh from the butcher shop.
"It is truly a labor of love and people's amazing energy. We grew up in a garden with plants, herbs and flowers surrounding us," said Khoury. "We understand the value of nature and the un-rivaled flavor of home-grown organic."
Before sampling the hummus (described on the menu as "Arguably The Best Hummus Ever And You Can Be The Judge") or the beef kafta kabobs in Middle-Eastern spices with fresh parsley and basil floating in tahini sauce, the first pleasure belongs to your eyes and ears.
The spacious backyard is decorated with an array of cushioned lounge seating, curtained pergolas, patio tables, Moorish-style lanterns, hand-crafted elephant statues. There's even a hammock to lounge in, in case you weren't feeling quite relaxed enough. Weather allowing, a projector screen displays old black and white films.
Adding to the ambience is the music, which, according to Khoury, "is meant to take you on a journey around the world. It is happy music; it is meant to soothe your mind."
For those interested in hookah, there's also opportunity to enjoy the Mediterranean staple in various flavors. Experiment with flavor combinations; the lemon, grape, and mint combo comes highly recommended.
Ultimately, Khoury says that he and his team hope to provide their guests a get-away from the stresses of daily life.
"The idea is to get back to nature, to let your imagination consume you, to leave the modern world behind, to try food with an eclectic twist as you have never tasted before."
Eclectic Eats Garden and Lounge is located at 1731 N Federal Highway in Delray Beach. Call 561-271-6240.
By Caralyn Greif
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