Quality stars at Market 17

Broward restaurants haven’t embraced the farm-to-table movement in a big way, but Market 17 has set about to change that.

Executive chef Dan Ramos can tell you that the rare hua moa plantain-banana hybrid he uses for tostones was grown in Davie, the pork came from Palmetto Creek Farms in Avon Park, and the black grouper was caught off Fort Pierce.

Dedication to fresh, quality, organic ingredients on a menu that changes daily is the idea behind Market 17, which opened Oct. 21 in a lovely 215-seat indoor-outdoor space (formerly Fish and Jackson’s Bar and Grill) on 17th Street Causeway.

But even diners who couldn’t care less where their food comes from can enjoy a sensational meal here.

Brother and sister Aaron Grauberger and Kirsta Grauberger are behind the contemporary restaurant, which features dining in the dark and wine-paired tasting menus that can stretch to more than a dozen courses.

The 350-label international wine list (30 by the glass, in 4- or 8-ounce pours) emphasizes small, family-owned vineyards. The wine country’s vibrant cuisine also inspired the menu, says Kirsta, former general manager of Johnny V.

Market 17 is the whole package. Servers are attentive and knowledgeable. The setting is sophisticated, with sheer curtains, comfy banquettes and eclectic paintings by Delray Beach artist Joshua Von Nonn. The menu can be pricey, but petite portions, mostly under $20, are generous.

And then there’s the food, starting with a basket of delicious bread served with olive tapenade and bean spread.

Our favorite first course was the chef’s interpretation of ceviche, made tableside: paper-thin slices of shrimp, snapper and scallops in a high-acid bath of orange, lemon and lime juices spiked with cilantro, red onion, celery and a little japaleño. Add organic carrot, avocado and popcorn, among other items, if you like. Easily enough for two, the ceviche is served in a martini glass and garnished with tostone crisps.

A refreshing Caprese-style salad with house-made mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes was another hit, finished with a garnish of micro basil, dill tips and parsley and a dressing of aged balsamic vinegar and organic olive oil.

Ramos (formerly of Delray Beach’s Sunday House) has a deft touch with seasonal vegetables like delicately sweet kohlrabi, sunchokes, turnips, beets and brussels sprouts. (Vegetarians will be glad to know there’s a nightly veggie entree.)

The chef also coaxes fine flavor from pan-seared fresh fish, often snapper, grouper or sheepshead. His Maine lobster is tender and succulent, removed from the shell and poached in farm butter.

Ramos, who spent three weeks in Michael Anthony’s Gramercy Tavern kitchen in New York to learn more about farm-to-table cooking, uses some classic French stocks but no heavy sauces. His guinea fowl, for example, is basted in its own juices.

Aside from wheat berries that were a little dry and snapper that could have used more seasoning, everything was exceptionally good, including desserts like warm monkey bread with caramelized banana-plantains, banana-caramel ice cream and cinnamon sauce. And a luscious Key lime mousse is refreshing– like Market 17.


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