First Look at the Office in Delray Beach

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John Linn
It's been just over a month since the Office debuted in Delray Beach, the latest restaurant from David Manero and former Mark's chef Mark Militello. And a recent visit showed that the upscale gastropub is starting to hit its stride.

I made the trek to Delray on a recent Friday night with some friends in tow and found the place humming busily around 7 p.m. The joint has a long, walk-up bar along one side that was overflowing with people eating small plates and sampling brews from the extensive craft beer list. Despite it being packed tighter than a tin can inside, we were able to quickly snag a table on the sidewalk just by the front door.

The restaurant's business-casual theme is well-represented in its menu and decor. Silverware comes in a branded envelope that the waiters offer to open for you. The place mats, like the walls and glass doors out front, are full of witty quotations about beer, business, and food. The staff is dressed in old-timey garb with white buttoned-down shirts and clever little black bow ties. Shoot, even the burger buns are branded with a black-charred "Office" logo. It's all very well thought-out and manages to stay just this side of over-the-top.

Instead of going for the rather pricey main course options, we decided to split a host of small plates, appetizers, and side dishes and sample a few of the Office's draft beers. Here's what we ended up with.

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John Linn
Smoked kingfish nachos clocked in at $12 for five fried chips topped with a mound of chilled fish, slightly smoky and savory. That was dabbed with avocado butter and a few sprigs of baby cilantro. A side of jicama slaw with whole coriander was a tart palate cleanser. Not bad, but a little skimpy for the price.

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John Linn
Cheddar jalapeno corn bread ($4) came in a tin can the server removed as he presented. The bread itself was moist and slightly spicy, and crocks of maple-pecan butter and pimiento cheese dip were both fantastic with it. The cheese dip in particular was like the best Velveta spread ever set out at a Texas cocktail party. I drowned a whole pint of Oskar Blues Imperial Red Ale (8.7 percent alcohol) with the corn bread. Easily worth four bucks.

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John Linn
Among a host of a la carte side dishes, these truffled organic deviled eggs caught our eye. Were these half the price they are now ($6 for four eggs), I'd be ordering them by the dozen. As it stands, they're fine deviled eggs, with smoky paprika and a sweet homemade relish inside. But they're too expensive for what amounts to hors d'oeuvres 101.

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