Before we were invited to check out Palmeiras Beach Club, we had little knowledge of the private island on which it resides: Grove Isle. To us, the Isle always seemed like an exclusive island for rich folks — we had no business there. Just driving up to the gate required an immense amount of courage, given the incredible beauty and luxury apparent in the area. Thankfully, our bravery was rewarded by a memorable meal and a setting worthy of a magazine cover.
Led by former Seasalt and Pepper (now Seaspice) chef Alfredo Alvarez, the kitchen at this new Mediterranean dining destination is serving up fanciful fare that pulls in Greek, French, Spanish and Italian influences. If you ever visited Gibraltar, the setting should look somewhat familiar: the restaurant has taken over that old space and given it some extra oomph. Indoor, outdoor and private seating are all available, making it perfect for business meetings, a romantic night out or an evening with friends. And chances are that you might run into a celebrity or two, including some known in the 305 and worldwide.
When you do visit Palmeiras Beach Club, there’s no shortage of options to stuff your face with. The extensive menu features a range of appetizers and entrees that run the gamut from seafood (branzino) to swine (Duroc pork chops) to pasta (carciofi raviolone). Regardless of which indulgences you choose, make sure to throw in some items from the Fruits de Mer section. These seafood options, which include seasonal oysters, stone crab, sea urchin and poached wild African shrimp, can fill you up on their own. We can vouch for the oysters, which were ginormous and super tasty.
Another highlight: the light and oh so delicate seared escolar. This favorite of the night popped with flavor the second it touched our tongue; with sriracha aioli, lychee emulsion and soy dressing, how could it not? On the other side of the taste spectrum was the porcini ravioli, which featured a mushroom au jus that added a whole new level of depth to the pasta. We were told the raviolis are homemade by a local Italian family, and you can really feel the love in these bite-sized pieces of heaven.
As you can probably tell from our earlier descriptions, there’s quite a bit of seafood on the menu. As a result, the expectations for our main seafood plate of the evening were high. The wild Chilean sea bass did not disappoint. While it could stand on its own perfectly, Chef masterfully turned it up to 11 with a scrumptious tomato shellfish broth.
Not in the mood for a full meal? Split one of the Beach Club’s brick-oven pizzas, which come out delicious and crisp; the nouvella with its roasted pear and Gorgonzola is a winner as is the rustica with speck. We could definitely see ourselves ordering a pie near the pool on a nice day, which is probably why you’ll also find them on the eatery’s pool menu.
Just make sure you save room for dessert. If you’re feeling adventurous, opt for the brie tiramisu. The decadent treat contains hazelnut speculoos, mascarpone, espresso, dates, white chocolate, Kahlua foam, coffee ice cream … basically, a ton of stuff that won’t do your waistline any good. But fuck it: It’s worth every single calorie. Equally decadent is the chocolate feast, which features valrhona crust, black and white ganache, chocolate soil, black currant sorbet, candied pecans and black currant coulis. Yup, diet starts tomorrow.
Is Palmeiras Beach Club worth checking out? Yes, even if it’s just to have a drink at the bar and scope out the scenery — the setting itself is worth your time and money. Fortunately, so is the menu.