Last night I had chance to pause on the pork after spending the previous week in North Carolina and being caught in the middle of a pork shoulder throw down between my grandmother and sister. There was a clear winner (and loser) in this one, but in the spirit of not sparking WWIII in Durham, I will just say I was the winner! Eating like swine royalty for a few days. So when I was asked by Katy Lynch of Dine Magazine, to join her and a few other local bloggers in a group called TasteCasting, for a meal at Village Tavern I jumped at the chance. Being a relative newbie to the blogosphere, I knew this would be a great opportunity for me to sit down with some veterans, work on refining this palate and try new things (mainly seafood).
The Renaissance Commons in Boynton Beach is home to the Village Tavern. The location is great, just minutes from I-95 and a prominent figure at the intersection of two major thoroughfares (Congress Ave. and Gateway Blvd.). Stepping into the bar area, you get the feel of a diverse upbeat crowd, as they surround a large bar with dark wood and books upon the top shelf. The bar was very loud, but just under the point of straining to have a conversation (a bar should have a good buzz in my opinion).
We started with a few selections from an extensive cocktail menu. The Pink Sangria, Banana Drop, and Violet Fields made the final cut; I could feel the sugar rush when they hit the table. As a Dewar’s on the rocks man, I am not a fan of specialty cocktails, as they are usually overpriced and excessively sweet. Thus, I have the wrong tongue to tell if these things are good. One thing I will give these three drinks credit for is being imaginative in flavor. As my nose hovered over the Pink Sangria I felt like I was about to drink a bottle of perfume (that’s if perfume tasted how it smells) however, when this drink hits your tongue you get a shot of the rose syrup that holds it together but a just too sweet. The Banana Drop was also too sweet, but had a decent banana flavor, with the help of Malibu Banana flavored rum. The Violet Fields was…you guessed it, too sweet! For any of you that don’t appreciate a $7-8 sugar bomb, they have a selection of other liquids to quench a wide array of thirsts. Nine draft beers ranging from $2.00-$5.00 (including my favorite Yuengling), six domestic bottles ($3.75), six craft and micro-brew bottles ($4.50), ten imported bottles and ($3.75-$4.50) and 60 wines.
Next, we moved into the dining area, where there was a noticeable drop in the noise level despite a very busy Thursday evening. Our server came to the table and gave us the rundown on the menu. Throughout the night, she was very friendly and had a firm command of the menu. After a short time, an army of appetizers arrived, mostly seafood. As a child, growing up I could not eat seafood and the smell of it made me nauseous. Over the years, I have been slowly breaking myself of being a non-seafood eater, but I still find myself shying away. I can easily say the chef’s at Village Tavern helped me take major steps in understanding that if seafood is done right, I can eat it all day. The Bacon Wrapped Scallops ($11.95) was my first test and I was pleasantly surprised with the clean taste of the scallops. The Teriyaki glaze nicely complemented the smokiness of the apple-wood bacon. The Maryland Crab Cake ($10.95), is normally another stopping point for me, but I had already eaten half of it before I realized what it was. I am not sure if that is a good or bad thing but I know that I liked it. Next, was something that I have never even attempted, Steamed Mussels ($9.95). To me, mussels always seemed like a digestive disaster waiting to happen, but when the smell of this dish drifted past my nose I quickly began to reconsider. So I grabbed a few mussels and spooned some of the green broth over the top. What I discovered is that mussels are pretty damn good (when done right I assume). They were Prince Edward Island mussels in excellent garlic, shallot, pesto, and white wine broth. The garlic bread sitting around the side of the plate was begging to be dipped in the broth, and I obliged. The Margarita Flatbread ($8.25) was pretty standard with a good sauce and a crispy crust. The other appetizers that came to the table were Ahi Tuna Sashimi ($10.95) which seared with wasabi, soy and a ginger dipping sauce and Flash-Fried Calamari ($8.95). Next came the salads, the Tavern Salad ($6.95) and the Spinach Salad ($7.50). The Spinach Salad was one of the most interesting, flavor packed salads I have eaten, and just the name Spinach Salad does it no justice. A lot was going on with grape tomatoes, bacon, green apples, dried cranberries, spiced pecans, crumbled blue cheese tossed with a Poppy seed dressing and topped with a hard-boiled egg. And if that wasn’t enough the plate was flanked with half of a fresh baked apple muffin. With every bite, I was only able to get some of the many ingredients on my fork so every time there was varying flavor, which was interesting. The Tavern Salad was a good salad but didn’t have much of a chance after the bomb that had just went off in my mouth with the Spinach Salad.
After the appetizers were gone, I had some Bodega Salenein Malbec to prepare for the next round. The Braised Short Ribs ($20.95) were cooked to perfection in a red wine, porcini mushrooms, tomatoes, rosemary and garlic. The meat easily separated from the bone with a fork and a knife is only necessary if you are looking for something to do with your other hand. The ribs were served over a pillow of creamy mashed potatoes. The Maple Cured Pork Chop ($19.95) was served with a great apple chutney glaze but the chop was a little dry. A big winner was the Grouper Hemingway with a sauce that was bursting with the flavor of white wine, lemon tomatoes and capers. The Village Tavern offers a variety of steaks, which they describe as “inspired by great steakhouses of New York and Chicago, steaks are aged, hand-cut and seared in our 1200 degree broiler”. We chose the Steak au Poivre ($25.95, 8oz/$27.50, 10oz), which I usually stay away from, because I have found that many places ruin the steak with way too much black pepper. That was not the case here, and the cognac cream sauce blended nicely with the pepper. My least favorite dish was the Spaghetti Squash and Zucchini ($11.95). This may simply be because I don’t care for spaghetti squash, but I got the idea, it wasn’t a hit with the resident vegetarians either. To round out my foray into the land of seafood was the Grilled Rainbow Trout ($16.95) and I was happy I gave this a shot too. The fish had a nice texture and was marinated in a sweet soy sauce.
To complete the assault on our daily caloric intake, dessert was placed at the table, Crème Brule ($4.95), Carrot Cake ($6.50), Banana Crepes ($6.95), and Dessert Sampler ($7.95). I thought the Crème Brule was pretty good and enjoyed the flavor of the top crust. I did hear comments that it was a little watery. The Carrot Cake is a new addition to the menu and found it to be soft on the inside with a tasty cream cheese icing. The desert sample while a good idea was my least favorite. The Apple Cobbler was ok, the key lime pie was thick like a tart and the St. Barths Chocolate Torte was a brownie that literally soaked up all the saliva in my mouth. The star, was the Banana Crepes, and finished off a great meal perfectly. It consisted of French Crepes layered with Nutella, banana Ice Cream, over fresh banana in a pool of caramel and chocolate sauces….a definite showstopper.
Village Tavern is a great value with exceptional quality of food, great atmosphere with friendly and helpful service. I look forward to going back to try the large selection of pasta and chicken dishes. They also serve up six gourmet burgers and specialty pizzas. I am also happy to say I look forward to trying a few more of their seafood dishes!
**IF YOU HAVE BEEN TO VILLAGE TAVERN PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT OR REVIEW, GOOD OR BAD.**