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It was no easy feat narrowing down the considerable list of restaurants from Jupiter to Boca Raton, but the New Times has assembled a list of ten of our favorite restaurants in Palm Beach County for 2012. With a few up-and-comers making waves in the scene (Imoto, Rebel House, Coolinary Cafe, to name a few) it will be interesting to see who wears the crown next year.
For now, this list represents a cross-section of high-brow and mid-brow, covering a range of budgets and tastes. There are a few "Yeah, we saw that coming a mile way" names in there, but you'll also find a few renegades thrown in the mix. As always, share your love/air your grievances in the comments.
1. Max's Harvest
Dennis Max's ode to farm-to-fork dining is a chef-driven venture, with Chris Miracolo -- who was named New Times' Best Palm Beach County Chef in 2012 -- steering the kitchen. Locally sourced produce and meats are the rule, not the exception, and the menu frequently morphs to suit the season and availability of fresh ingredients. The space's design lets diners experience a variety of settings. The front dining room is a flurry of activity, with a full view of the open kitchen and Second Avenue, while a more intimate back room is all mood lighting and hushed tones. The back patio, with its waterfall and abundance of flora, is the Zen choice. Across the board, the service is focused and attentive, but never stuffy.
2. Café Boulud
Luxury is the word of choice to describe the Café Boulud experience. A finely appointed dining room is tended to by a team of servers trained to read each table and match their mannerisms to suit the clientele. The kitchen, under the direction of executive chef Jim Leiken, serves a mix of classic French and American fare (found in "Le Tradition" portion of the menu) and more adventurous "world" cuisine (listed under "Le Voyage") with upscale fusions. Regardless of the genre, the prep and presentation is meticulous, and local ingredients -- including meats -- are used whenever possible.