Innovative new Steak & Seafood concept introduces all natural, hormone-free meats, wild-caught seafood, and locally grown produce.
Here’s a great new restaurant to check out in west Boca -- Butcher Block Grill in The Fountains Center (where W. Camino Real dead-ends into Powerline Road). As the name implies, Butcher Block Grill specializes in steak, but it also features fresh seafood, vegetarian, and Mediterranean-influenced dishes. And don’t be mislead by the “Grill” moniker – Butcher Block is a serious restaurant. The setting is open and airy, contemporary and comfortable, with an open kitchen, plus a cool outdoor covered patio that opens to the center’s relaxing, piazza-style fountains. I say, it’s about time we had a really GOOD steak & seafood restaurant in the ‘hood that delivers high-end quality (plus some unique twists), without the prohibitive pricing and stuffy attitude of the high-end big boys.
So, what’s the unique twist? Most notably, Butcher Block is “All Natural” -- in fact, it's the only all natural restaurant in town. That means all of its meat and poultry is hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and humanely raised on a vegetarian diet (how many places can say that?!). All seafood is wild-caught and/or locally sourced (even the tuna!), and its produce is locally sourced and pesticide-free. Managing Partner Mike Zikri opened his innovative new concept in August, which is already building a following as word spreads. “We’ve combined an all-natural steakhouse with Mediterranean flavors and an elegant, inviting atmosphere that heightens the senses,” states Zikri, “This new trend is the first of its kind in Boca Raton and South Florida.”
To help bring his vision to fruition, Zikri made a wise move -- he tapped the talents of Executive Chef Joshua Hedquist to helm the kitchen. I’ve been a fan of Chef Joshua since his former days as top toque at Todd English’s Da Campo Osteria, and then with the Dennis Max group and Big Time Restaurant Group. Chef Joshua conceived the menu, and truly embraces the ‘farm-to-table’ concept, noting “we proudly support local producers. We work with over a dozen South Florida farms, and provide our guests with the freshest, all-natural products in the region.”
The primary attraction here is of course the all-natural, hormone-free beef, all butchered in-house daily. Steak options include the usual suspects (Filet Mignon, NY Strip, Rib-Eye), plus a ginormous 24-oz Cowboy Rib-Eye. Most steaks clock in around $29-$40 (notably less than the big boys), and are served with hand cut, malt vinegar steak fries, along with savory red wine demi-glace and the house signature “butcher butter.” The best deal is probably the Veal Tomahawk Chop, a prodigious hunk o’ meat, grilled to perfection with a flavor-packed charred crust, then served atop a cloud of roasted garlic-asagio cheese mashed potatoes, along with jumbo grilled asparagus (cleverly encircled within a crispy onion ring!), all enhanced with an incredible Saltimbocca reduction (Yum!!). It’s a definite winner – and quite a bargain at just $39.
Chilean Sea bass (with asparagus, Roasted fingerlings, shallots, and heirloom tomatoes); Simply Grilled Wild Salmon; and local Snapper with crispy asparagus and sweet corn & heirloom bean mixture are among the aquatic offerings. Other House Specialties ($16 - $39, each served with potatoes, veggies, and a customized sauce) include Lemon Rosemary Chicken (from a Pennsylvania Amish farm), Kebobs (steak, chicken, or shrimp), and Grilled Lamb Chops – all of which are also all natural, hormone-free and antibiotic-free. Notable sides include Fire Roasted Wild Mushrooms with Balsamic reduction (a Must Try!), Caramelized Brussels Sprouts, and Grilled Asparagus with Lemon.
But before diving into the main course, don’t miss the hand-pulled Warm Mozzarella. Watch in delight as the ‘cheese chef’ wheels a cart to your table, and then twists & pulls a pail of milky fluid into just-made, still-warm, gotta-have-some-more fresh mozzarella right before your eyes. If your idea of mozzarella is that rubbery pre-packaged grocery store crap, do yourself a favor and try the REAL thing! Tuna Crudo also shines, and can easily go fin-to-fin with any high-end sushi or ceviche joint. Thin slices of very fresh, very tender tuna are treated ceviche-style in fresh local Meyer lemon vinaigrette, and attractively plated with fresh avocado and heirloom tomatoes. Another surprising standout is the Super Lump Crab Cakes. Yes, I know – it seems every restaurant has crab cakes, and they all claim theirs are the best (and different from the rest). But in a world of generic crab cakes, Butcher Block’s truly stands apart. “Notin’ but crab” (all natural, fresh jumbo lump) in these beauties, which Chef Josh brilliantly binds together with a housemade shrimp mouse – NO breadcrumbs or mayonnaise! Rotisserie Chicken and Wild Mushroom Flatbreads, Mediterranean Tapas platter, and Prosciutto with Melon are among the other starters ($9-$14).
For dessert, don’t miss the Goat’s Cheese Cheesecake with a chopped pistachio crust and topped with macerated fresh berries – perhaps the best (and certainly the most memorable) cheesecake we’ve ever tasted.
So, will the new Butcher Block Grill, along with its neighbors Mozart’s Café and Asia Sushi, help make The Fountains a “Go To” dining destination? Let’s hope so!...
Butcher Block Grill is open for lunch and dinner every day. Located at 7000 W. Camino Real (at Powerline Rd.) in Boca Raton, FL. For more information, call 561-409-3035, or visit www.butcherblockgrill.com.