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Florida Weekly Review - Lunch, brunch or breakfast? Gallery Grille is the place to be


Link to Article – 03/31/2011

Here’s to the ladies who lunch.
And here’s to the place where they lunch, Tequesta’s Gallery Grille.
Most days, the restaurant, tucked into a corner at Gallery Square North, adjacent to the Lighthouse ArtCenter, is filled with ladies (and more than a few lads) drawn to its breakfast, lunch and brunch fare.
It’s a lively place. You can visit the ArtCenter, have lunch at Gallery Grille and then stroll through the shops and galleries of the plaza.
Inside, there is a large counter with seating. Tables and bistro chairs fill the rest of the space. The walls, which are painted a soothing sage, are hung with vintage-looking advertising prints. The ceiling, painted a warm terra cotta, keeps everything grounded.
It’s a friendly place, with noise levels at a healthy din.
Outside, there is seating in the little courtyard adjacent to the restaurant.
Patrons receive an effusive greeting almost as soon as they walk in the door.
Tables are cozy and decorated with fresh flowers.
We visited three times over the course of the week for reviewing purposes.
Owner Bruce Nierman has an ambitious menu — the lunch menu alone has more than 50 items, including a range of soups, salads and sandwiches.
Our first visit, on a Monday, we tried the turkey Reuben ($11.95) and the Tuscan chicken salad ($13.95).
That Reuben was loaded with thin-sliced turkey served on rye bread and topped with sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing — enough to contribute to our waistline’s ongoing expansion plans.
And the Tuscan chicken salad?
The sliced boneless chicken breast half was cooked tender with a nice crust of Romano cheese. That was served atop a bed of mixed greens, with Portobello mushroom, roasted red peppers and goat cheese, all dressed with tangy balsamic vinaigrette.
For a second visit, on a Wednesday, we started with a cup of the soup of the day, the Key West conch chowder ($4.95). Thee tomato-based chowder wd was rich and full of tender conch meat, plus assorted yes veggies. I prefer my conch chowder to be spicy and this was on the mild side, no doubt in deference to those aforementioned ladies with dainty palates. The broth also was a little too salty for my taste, but no doubt would please others.
The Caesar salad with calamari ($13.95) pleased my guest. There was plenty of Romaine, with shaved Romano and garlic croutons. The calamari rings and tentacles were fried perfectly — crisp on the outside, tender on the inside. They were generously breaded, but not too much so.
Kate’s Low Country Salad ($14.95) earned high marks with its generous scoops of lump crabmeat served with applewood-smoked bacon. The crab-bacon combo was served atop two fried green tomato slices on a bed of mixed greens. The slightly spicy remoulade was a nice accompaniment, as was the Green Goddess — how retro! — that dressed the greens.
During other visits, those fried green tomatoes have been used to great effect on the Fried Green Tomato BLT ($9.95), served with herbed mayonnaise on slices of multigrain bread.
Our server assured us that the coconut custard pie ($5.95) was the best she ever had, so we splurged with dessert. The pie was rich, and made with a graham cracker crust. There were plenty of bits of coconut throughout, and we loved the garnish of toasted coconut.
Our third visit, on a Friday, was for breakfast, and the place was jammed with people.
We were seated and given menus, but it was a good 15 minutes before a server came to greet us and take orders.
“Did you all come in on the same bus?” she joked. Cute, but the humor would have been more genuine about 10 minutes earlier.
The Belgian-style waffle ($9.95) was crisp and hot. And the Cajun omelette ($9.75), with its rounds of Andouille sausage, slightly caramelized onions and roasted red pepper was a great way to start the morning. The eggs of the omelette were light and fluffy, and not over-beaten. The accompanying home fries, with chunks of potato, made a hearty side that was almost too much — I barely finished the omelette. And the huge house-made biscuit was tender, perfect for slathering with butter and sopping up the juices from that omelette.
Service each visit, with the exception of breakfast, was quick, if not attentive. Our server at breakfast clearly was in the weeds, but she kept her humor, and saw to it that our glasses were refilled and dirty dishes were cleared away.
It is that humor that will keep us — and those ladies who lunch — coming back.
So here’s a toast to that invincible bunch, and that cute little place where they lunch.

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“Always a delight, this gem of a bistro near Tequesta's art plaza is an established player in the breakfast/brunch game, dispensing great New American vittles.“ Zagat 2006
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Saturday May 18, 2024