32 East endures as a prime destination for Delray Beach diners. Alas, not for long




Having dined not too long ago at 32 East in downtown Delray Beach, I could easily see it becoming one of my favorites. Unfortunately, that’s not in the cards.

This trendy eatery will close its doors next May to make room for a branch of the popular Fort Lauderdale boite Louis Bossi’s. The sale was announced this past summer,

32 East opened in 1996 on the site of what once was an auction house in Delray Beach’s Historic Neighborhood, long before Atlantic Avenue had experienced an explosion of fine dining.  It became an instant success and remains so today. It’s really become a legend, eponymous with fine dining in Delray Beach.  That’s a shame for those who won’t be able to experience it after Mother’s Day 2018.

Main dining room

Although the menu suggests upscale, fine dining, 32 East has the feel of  neighborhood bistro with regulars lined up at the bar chatting with general manager John Bates.

There is a street-side terrace for outdoor dining and two dining rooms. The lower level, where we dined, features subdued lighting, a black and white checkerboard floor, wood paneling against beige walls, dark-wood tables and chairs and earth tone banquettes.

The menu, despite a change in chefs in the past year, is interesting with delicious offerings prepared using fresh ingredients in evocative styles. The cocktail list is inviting and the wine list offers variety and depth far beyond what’s offered in many fine-dining spots.

At a recent dinner, instead of ordering wine as I usually do, I strayed, enticed by what would prove to be a very tasty cocktail, Vieux Carre, a blend of Cognac, rye, sweet vermouth, Benedictine and bitters. Were I not driving, I could easily have ordered—and finished—a second glass.

Oak-roasted dates, figs, prosciutto and robiola

For dinner, I started with oak-roasted dates and figs, a treat made with prosciutto, robiola—a soft cheese from northern Italy, hazelnuts, a Champagne gastrique and watercress. My less venturous other half stuck to a house salad—no cucumbers, no onions, no olives, please.

Oak reappeared in my  entrée  in the form of oak-roasted local grouper. The grouper was on a Mediterranean cruise, plated with tabbouleh, cucumber, tomato, Fresno-chili date chutney, lemon vinaigrette, and eggplant hummus. An interesting combination of flavors and textures that makes a meal so pleasing. The grouper appears regularly on the menu, providing a canvas for chef John Tomas to plate differently each month.

Smoked group and couscous

A Bell & Evans chicken breast, while more prosaic, was nonetheless terrific with sides of haricot verts, tomatoes, Red Bliss smashed potatoes and mushroom gravy.

To be honest, we were stuffed after our two courses, so we passed on the dessert offerings.

Service here is highly polished and professional, as one would hope at a restaurant of this caliber. And to boot, just as we exited the restaurant, the manager ran out after us to thank is for dining there. Now, that’s something you don’t see everyday. It makes you wish the coming changes were not in the offing. Go while you can.

32 East

32 E Atlantic Ave, Delray Beach

(561) 276-7868

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