Lerman, age 27, and Cohen, age 25, met at the Culinary Institute of America before garnering experience in some of New York’s most notable restaurants and bakeries, including establishments like Eleven Madison Park, Momofuku Ssam Bar, Ai Fiori, and Dominque Ansel Bakery.
The couple later honed their skills at Boca Raton’s Rebel House (Lerman as sous chef and bar manager, Cohen as executive pastry chef). Now, the two are planning to divide their duties once again at their new establishment.
The restaurant is named for the ground floor of Via Jardin, the building the restaurant occupies, as well as its lush, botanically inspired courtyard. It's expected to open this April at 330 Clematis St., in downtown West Palm Beach.
Jardin —which translates to "garden" in French, Spanish, and Italian — will offer a seasonal menu representing the melting pot that is modern American cuisine, adds Lerman, with international influences and flavors that celebrate South Florida’s seasonal bounty.
That means you can expect just about everything on Jardin’s menu to be made in-house. Plans are for dishes that are elevated in concept and execution, adds Lerman, but not in price.
The "keeping it local" theme will extend beyond Jardin’s menu to the restaurant design, with a colorful mural created by local tattoo artists Steve Lopez and Fernando Valencia. They'll offer their own graffiti-style depictions of various flowers, including those the city's downtown streets are named after (think hibiscus, fern, evernia, and datura).
Inside, the space — 3,300 square feet with seating for more than 150 — will be configured with two distinct outdoor areas, including a covered patio at front and a landscaped courtyard in back.
Although much of the menu is still in the works, expect a selection of snacks, appetizers, entrées, and an ambitious dessert lineup that showcases Cohen's pastry prowess. Classic and modern craft cocktails will also be available, as well as a selection of local craft brews and a moderately priced wine list.
Appetizers will draw attention to Lerman’s skill at reinventing dishes, like his duck choripan. A riff on the popular South American chorizo sandwich, Lerman substitutes duck for the traditional beef or pork sausage and serves it on a homemade potato bun topped with buttermilk and a cherry pepper relish.
Entrées will be composed plates with an emphasis on seasonal dishes with as many locally sourced ingredients as possible, like pan-roasted mojo gator ribs served with sweet plantains and a guanciale-black-eyed-pea hash.
With references like the bakery that invented and patented the cronut, you can expect desserts to steal the show. Keep an eye out for the Donut Tower, what the couple describes as a vertical donut stack — a trio of pastries including maple Bavarian cream, chocolate glazed, and candied bacon — served with malted milk ice cream. Or try your hand at dipping a platter of cinnamon marshmallows, orange madeleines, donut holes, Key lime bites, and carbonated fruits into a homemade Cajeta caramel sauce or molten Republica del Cacao chocolate.
Lerman, a Palm Beach County native, says he is excited to be back in West Palm Beach after spending time in New York City and Israel.
"I always hoped I'd be able to return home to open my own restaurant, and the timing is perfect," says Lerman. "There is a revitalization, and Stephanie and I very much want to be a part of it. We couldn’t be more excited to bring our take on great food to our community."
Jardin is located at 330 Clematis St., West Palm Beach. Visit jardinrestaurant.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.