Wednesday, July 21, 2010

racks downtown eatery + tavern in mizner park

mizner park in boca raton is hands down a destination spot for out-of-towners and residents of south florida alike. there's pretty much a restaurant for everyone's liking - sushi, mexican, irish, italian and of course, american. but regardless of the amount of dining options the high end park offers, something was missing. and that's where racks comes in - talk about a game changer.

gary rack's third child to his budding family of restaurants, racks, is cleverly termed 'downtown eatery + tavern' by giving you everything you love about a traditional east coast tavern but with all the sophistication necessary to compete in the major leagues of boca raton. the interior is fascinating with rich, nautical ropes used as chandeleirs and between the raw bar and wood oven pizza, racks truly hits a home run. glasses read 'socialize' and plates read 'sharing' - i'm all about the socializing but when the food is as good as it is at racks, i tend to hide the word sharing when the other person is not looking. so i'll just get to the star players of the restaurant, the food!

chef matthew danaher evokes hearty, comfort food in the dishes while incorporating clean, modern touches. instead of the regular bread and butter, they offer guests warm pretzel breads with a mustard sauce. as much as you want to eat all in the brown paper bag they're served in, make room for the many, many choices offered at racks. the menu starts with 'first flavors' with choices such as crab cakes, cedar salmon chips, little deviled eggs and a personal favorite from this portion of the menu, the miso lettuce cups which is a miso sea bass in a peanut sauce and topped with crispy noodles. it's both light and refreshng and will make you contemplate ordering another round. the cedar salmon chips are also a crowd favorite with chives, capers and eggs mixed in the salmon and all thrown on top of savory chips. the raw bar offers favorites such as oysters, jumbo lump crab cocktail and giant shrimp cocktail or order their tomato and asiago pizza with toppings such as portabello mushrooms, framani salumi and sausage. for 'starters' there are the show stealers mac and cheese, tuna tacos and the most delicious, spicy buffalo style calamari. it actually makes me laugh at how some people react to the spiciness of the dish, which is balanced with celery, peanuts and blue cheese. if your palate is up for a tasty, hot treat, then order it!

what i also love about racks is that their salads are well thought out to cater to everyone's needs. you can try the crispy goat cheese salad with an assortment of spinach and arugula tossed between dates, walnuts, golden raisins and drizzled with a mustard vinaigrette or the imperial chicken salad served on asian greens and topped with peanuts, edamame and rainbow vegetables all drizzled in an orange miso dressing. other options are the local tomato and vito's mozzarella salad, the main lobster cobb salad or the knife and fork greek salad. like i said, something for everyone.

don't feel like having greens? well where there is comfort food, there is a burger. with a fun name like "three" napkin burger, poking fun on how many napkins you will probably need after eating from their two mouth watering choices: a fried egg, smoked bacon, grilled onions and aged cheddar combo or a leaf lettuce, tomato, vidalia onion and house pickles combo. still not satisfied? neither was chef danaher. in fact, his favorite dishes are under the 'fork and knife' portion of the menu with highlights such as the wood oven roasted chicken served with heirloom carrots, sweet peas and gnocchi and my absolute favorite dish on the entire menu, the... wait for it, wait for it... veal and mushroom meatloaf served with potatoes in a pan gravy sauce! i like it so much that since having it i have successfully managed to only suggest this dish to anyone who will listen to me. a close friend of mine is vegetarian and i texted her asking if she's ready to start eating meat because i found the perfect meal for her. she said no, i said "your loss." they've got other great offerings such as the butcher's cut filet mignon, peppercorn crusted tuna, idaho trout amandine and crab crusted seabass.

racks steps it up in another way by choosing daily specials that will keep you coming back for more and more. so far they have served varities from mahi mahi tacos, kung pao ribs, lobster tacos, smoked turkey sandwich, meatloaf sandwich to tuna sliders, fried chicken and chili cheese fries! i'm sorry, what are the names of the other restaurants in mizner park?

i sure hope you're not full because if you are going to visit racks and avoid their dessert menu, then shame on you. all the choices are unique and as sweet as one can hope. try their hot doughnuts which when you bite into them, a creamy filling of peanut butter and jelly filling break free into your mouth. go ahead, order two. for more fun definitely order the messy sundae filled with a scrumptious brownie and ice cream and then topped with whipped cream, fudge, cherries and behold, peanut brittle with bacon! this is when sharing is not caring. the sweet and savory play between the brittle and bacon will make you searching for more pieces in this dessert, but the brownie and ice cream will fill you up enough to just settle with making plans to come back to racks so you can order this bad boy again. it's ridiculous! racks also has a great smores pie dessert and a warm, fried dutch apple pie. daily specials have offered a mixed berry pie, ice cream sandwiches and even cookies and milk. this just in: all other restaurants in mizner park are closing after racks opens.

in order to live up to the tavern it claims to be, racks also offers superb beers on tap such as the belgian ale gordash holy mackerel and craft beers such as rogue dead guy and victory golden monkey. happy hour has already taken off tremendously for racks and getting a seat at the bar is nearly impossible between five to seven p.m and understandably so when select drinks and appetizers are half off.

this is the place you can go by yourself and have a seat at the bar, make random banter with the bartender while enjoying your favorite drink with your favorite meal.

this is the place where you mass text message your friends about their dinner plans for later and pester them to meet up so you can all order something different and then eat off each other's plates.

this is the place you plan fake business meetings for lunch just so you can enjoy your favorite sandwich or salad.

this is the place you go to dinner with a crush or significant other and people watch the regulars of boca and laugh as you swear you are nothing like them.

this is the place that you read about and plan on visiting on your vacation in another state but now it's the place you drive only minutes away to enjoy what undoubetly, everyone else is enjoying.

racks downtown eatery + tavern