For Ben Lubin, owner of the Blind Monk in West Palm Beach, breakfast often falls into one of two categories: a fast-food pickup devoid of flavor and nutrition or a square meal without any service or ambiance to go along with it. Despite the multitude of restaurants sprinkled across the city's downtown area, a concept where the two coexist has been hard to find.
Well, not any longer. To rectify the situation, Lubin has created a pop-up breakfast café at the Blind Monk, which he will host through December.
With the café dubbed simply "the AM Shift," each weekday in December the Blind Monk -- best-known as one of the city's evening haunts for the wine, tapas, and craft beer -- transforms into a casual morning eatery. From 7:30 to 10:30 a.m., the new breakfast spot features a short menu of elevated breakfast items, says Lubin, dishes made with specially sourced ingredients that are both healthy and filling.
"Just like with the Blind Monk five years ago, I thought there was something missing in the area," says Lubin. "I couldn't find what I was looking for, so I created my own version of what I want for a breakfast spot."
Lubin, who graduated from New York City's French Culinary Institute in 2012, put his culinary skills to work to create several dishes for his December-only pop-up, priced $4 to $12. Pair any of them with a hot or cold-brew coffee made using locally roasted, organic, Fair Trade beans, and you should be good to go.
Gravlax is a Nordic staple, at its most basic a dish consisting of raw salmon, cured in salt, sugar, and dill. At the AM Shift, it's best compared to a bagel with lox and cream cheese, but here it takes a sustainable turn. Rather than use cured salmon, Lubin opted for arctic char, a cold-water fish that typically takes the place of farm-raised salmon. To bring the dish to the next level, he uses a lemon-scented crème fraîche made with organic cream, and thick-cut pumpernickel bread. It's finished with microgreens and a touch of sea salt.
Shakshouka is Lubin's take on a North African meal -- usually Tunisian dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions that is often spiced with cumin. At the AM Shift, it arrives in a steel pan, cooked-down vegetables baked into two eggs, with a side of pita bread.
Not just your average açaí bowl, Lubin starts by blending half-unsweetened Sambazon açaí with the original mix to cut the sugar factor. Next, it's mixed with Anson Mills oats, an incredibly fresh product that is milled to order on a weekly basis. Last, it's topped with fresh-cut fruit and drizzled with local honey.
The blueberry loaf is Lubin's version of a blueberry muffin for the grab-and-go crowd that wants something quick and easy. They're baked fresh daily using fresh-ground pastry flour and cornmeal from Anson Mills and served with organic, unsalted butter on the side.
The AM Shift will operate at the Blind Monk through December, Monday to Friday from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. Visit theblindmonk.com, or call 561-833-3605.
Nicole Danna is a food blogger 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 Clean Plate's Instagram.
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