I want to start off this review by saying, please don’t send me any hate mail. All my reviews are strictly my own opinion and I like to be totally honest in my assessments. That being said, I always thought of Palm Beach as being boring, stuffy, tiresome, ho-hum, OLD, stuck in its way, you know, the same old same old. Coming from Miami, I always felt the restaurants in Palm Beach were lacking, uninteresting, OLD, you get the picture …
But one place that has proven me wrong is Būcaan Restaurant at 350 South County Road. This is a “buzzy” place, with a boisterous bar, a younger crowd, I’m talking 30-50-year-olds (not 20-30 somethings). It is loud, fun, trendy, casually chic, and has a staff that isn’t stuffy but warm and friendly. It actually had a more Miami vibe than Palm Beach. There were still the occasional “cougars” on the prowl, but also a nice mix of socialites, professionals, tourists, and locals. The ambiance is pleasant, lots of windows, copper tables, distressed wooden floors, exposed pipes in the ceiling. A bar up front, and an open kitchen, that could use a little more ventilation, because I went home smelling like a bbq fire pit. It opened in 2011, and it quickly became a hot spot. Chef/ co-owner Clay Conley and his partners have been on many best lists. The chef originally from Maine has cooked and created for years with Todd English, cooking around the globe. Then after moving to Miami, he worked with Allen Susser, and our pride and joy, Michelle Bernstein. This led to him cooking at the upscale Azul at the Mandarin Oriental. He had been nominated five times for a James Beard Award.
At Būcaan, he focuses on a progressive American menu, featuring signature small plates, using fresh ingredients and big flavours. The menu is divided into chilled, crispy, veggies, flour and water, chef’s selections and simply grilled. The menu constantly changes according to season and whim. The food has some affordable pricing, another first for Palm Beach.
I thought the tuna crisps with avocado and served on a crispy wonton was a good rendition, as were the short rib empanadas, with aji amarillo. They were stuffed full of beef and had a nice flaky envelope. The Maine Lobster spring rolls, with an XO sauce and a tasty Thai basil aioli, has a nice spicy bite to them. But the standout dish was absolutely the sweet corn agnolotti, with ricotta, bacon and Espelette butter. It’s a delightful bite of heaven that seduced my palette sensors.
I thought the wine list offers a nice cross selection and there are lots of good choices by the glass. There are also about nine craft cocktails and an inventive non-alcoholic drink as well. I thoroughly enjoyed my watermelon martini, made with vodka, fresh watermelon juice, and lime.
The desserts did not disappoint either. It was hard to decide between the s’mores or the blondies, so we had both, and they both exceeded my expectations.
I was enthralled with this innovative restaurant, a new experience for me in the same old, same old, Palm Beach. I’ve heard some news that chef Conley is taking this concept to Miami in the near future. It will be called Chateau, and will be opening somewhere in the Brickell area sometime this spring. It will be one to watch for on my radar.
Būcaan is definitely one of the more innovative spots in Palm Beach.