Palm Sugar Two Ways
I tried out Palm Sugar in West Palm Beach for my latest Road Trips For Food (RTFF) and was not disappointed by my selection. The restaurant sits on the southeast corner of Clematis and Dixie Highway. To say it is a well traveled intersection would be an understatement and I was pleasantly surprised to find that parking was not a problem.
The atmosphere inside the restaurant is what they refer to as ‘trendy casual’ and what I would call very welcoming. Palm Sugar has an airy feel to it, which I appreciate far more than being packed into a restaurant like a can of sardines.
The first thing that caught my eye was the dessert display case filled with a variety of cupcakes, blueberry pie tartlets, cheesecake parfaits and several other assorted desserts. A variety of plastic wrapped cookies sat next to the display case, all of which looked enticing.
I met Pastry Chef Laurie Schwartz with whom I loved chatting. She knows her stuff and taught me about palm sugar, which I had not heard of before but will be trying out soon. Laurie was an executive chef at a former restaurant in Delray and is now sharing her talents up this way.
After a few photos were taken the rest of the RTFF group arrived and we spent a bit of time reading through the sizeable lunch menu. I found myself in a challenging situation – so many tempting options. In the end the ‘rational’ side of me decided that it was much more important to focus on the dessert course and not go crazy ordering lunch.
Palm Sugar offers a Comfort 2 Picks special, in which diners are able to pick 1 item from 2 different comfort food categories. I opted for the Chinese Char Siu Pork Bun and Garlic Black Pepper sautéed vegetables. The pork bun was exceptional with its steamed Chinese bun topped with slow cook roasted pork, cilantro, cucumbers, scallions and Japanese mayo sauce. The veggies were also wonderful, but I could truly make a meal out of two or three of the pork buns and call it a day, they are that good.
Everyone else enjoyed lunch and then it was time for dessert. As we were debating which ones to order, Laurie arrived with two Palm Sugar Lava Cakes. A rich chocolate cake filled with a warm white chocolate and green tea ganache and served with homemade green tea ice cream.
The presentation was beautiful, exactly as pictured on the menu. Cutting into the lava cake produced a perfect amount of chocolate oozing out. Unfortunately, I am not a tea lover and the taste of tea was too strong for me in both the center of the cake and the ice cream. However, the taste of the outside of the lava cake was wonderful.
The Panna Cotta is paired with a fruity berry soup that is finished with a splash of chardonnay. Although the Panna Cotta had not set enough, the flavor of this dish was incredible, truly one of my favorite desserts. The berry soup is incredibly refreshing and the chardonnay drizzled over it elevates the dessert even more.
My second favorite dessert was the Blueberry Tart, topped with plenty of crunchy streusel. Homemade Thai tea ice cream is a must with this tart. It struck me as ironic that I couldn’t get enough of the Thai tea ice cream when minutes earlier I had trouble eating green tea ice cream. I would never have thought to put blueberries with thai tea, but I am very grateful that Laurie did.
My final favorite desserts were the Palm Sugar Cookies. As mentioned above, I had not heard of palm sugar. Laurie explained to me that it is sugar from the sap of sugar palm trees. When I read about palm sugar, I learned that the sweetness and color of palm sugar can vary from batch to batch, depending on how long the sap was reduced; as well as time of year that the sap was taken.
Laurie uses a combination of palm sugar and granulated sugar to produce delicious sugar cookies, which I found myself eating non stop. A very big bonus of using palm sugar is that it allows the cookies to remain soft. If you have never tried a palm sugar cookie, treat yourself to one at Palm Sugar.
We also tried four mini cupcakes, but I found myself gravitating back to my favorite three: Panna Cotta, Blueberry Tart with Thai Tea ice cream and Palm Sugar Cookies.
Palm Sugar is worth heading to downtown West Palm Beach to eat at. The restaurant is inviting and the food is delicious. Just make sure you leave enough room for dessert. You won’t be sorry.