If your New Year’s resolution involves making better food choices when dining out, beware of the seducers on Palm Beach restaurant menus — creamy sauces, foie gras and all.
No one knows that better than the menus’ architects: the island’s chefs.
But because they’re fully apprised of the ingredients in their fare, chefs also can point to dishes on their menus that they consider healthier choices.
So which of those dishes would they especially enjoy devouring? The answers equal a cornucopia.
Take executive chef Sean Brasel’s healthier-dining suggestions at Meat Market, 191 Bradley Place.
Brasel said he’d start with a selection from the “crudo” section of Meat Market’s menu: tuna tartare brightened with ginger, soy, smashed avocado and mango mole.
Then he’d dig into Meat Market’s grilled Scottish salmon (request that it not be topped with butter), which is served with stir-fried quinoa and perfect with a side of Meat Market’s grilled asparagus, Brasel said.
>>RELATED: Check out our restaurant database for great eats in your area
“These dishes aren’t only healthier (than some other dining-out choices), but they are also visually appealing and extremely flavorful,” said Brasel. “Remember: You eat with your eyes first.”
At Caf Boulud, 301 Australian Ave., executive chef Rick Mace suggests a variety of dishes on the restaurant’s menus — especially those that feature lean proteins and lots of vegetables.
Caf Boulud has its links to French cuisine thanks to founder Daniel Boulud, but as Mace noted, “We use classic (and rich) sauces sparingly and use vinaigrette or pesto to liven up dishes and minimize the amount of cream and butter.”
Healthier-choice dishes at Caf Boulud, Mace said, include everything from yellowtail snapper with vegetable jardiniere and cilantro pesto, to Murray’s Farm chicken (avoid eating the skin to further cut fat) with Brussels sprouts.
“I’m also really excited about nuts, grains and dried beans, peas and lentils in the winter,” Mace said. “We’re also now featuring lots of wild game, all of which is extremely high in protein and low in fat — venison, boar, pheasant and partridge.”
>> RELATED: More food & dining
Elsewhere on the island, current menus at Buccan and Imoto, both at 350 S. County Road, offer several dishes created with a health-minded approach.
That has been the case for years at the two eateries, said Zach Bell, culinary director of the restaurants’ parent company, the Ember Group, co-founded by chef/co-owner Clay Conley.
“With the flavor that Clay packs into each bite at Buccan and Imoto, it’s easy to eat light and still have a great-tasting meal,” Bell said.
Bell said his current favorite health-minded plates include Imoto’s new maitake mushroom dish and Buccan’s snapper ceviche.
“The snapper ceviche has an amazing ‘leche de tigre’ infused with coconut and tamarind and it’s then finished with a blast of aromatics —ginger, cilantro and Thai basil. The new maitake mushrooms dish at Imoto has just a pinch of miso butter, but otherwise it’s a great meatless Monday option if that’s your New Year’s resolution. Maitake mushrooms are revered in Eastern cultures for their many restorative benefits. We roast ours with broccolini for an additional shot of vitamins, then deglaze with a whisky barrel-aged soy sauce and crispy rice for some great nuance and texture.”
Meanwhile, Temple Orange Mediterranean Bistro, one of a few dining outlets at Eau Palm Beach Resort, introduced a new menu in December.
It features several dishes that Eau’s executive sous chef Mathew Gale considers good options for anyone who wants to make better food choices in the new year.
He points to, among other things, steamed whole lobster served with a green salad with blood orange, hearts of palm and fennel; and chicken grilled under a brick and served with a Sangiovese jus, herb salad and a medley of peppers, onions, mushrooms and olives.
Temple Orange’s new offerings also include a fresh vegetable plate —served with whipped roasted-garlic yogurt — that’s a lighter version of Temple Orange’s popular mezze board, Gale said.
“The mezze board features several plant-based food items — falafel and hummus, both made with chickpeas, and baba ganoush, made from eggplant. As a chef, I’m always looking for ways to eat healthier, and now is the perfect time to start putting all of those New Year’s resolutions to work.”