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Page 32 The Palm Beach Post DECEMBER 5, 1997 TGIF Quality, mm i - prices high at Galaxy 7&STAURANT REVIEW Galaxy Grille FOOD SERVICE By Hap Erstein Palm Beach Post Restaurant Writer PALM BEACH - Like spying a groundhog's shadow, looking in on Galaxy Grille on a Saturday night in early November gives an indication of the winter season ahead. By 8:15, the place is , packed, presumably with locals who know a good thing when they find it and know they had better partake before the northern onslaught. Where is this eclectic, creative eatery going to put the tourists when they arrive? One year old and hardly a secret, this sister restaurant to Amici has a more interesting menu and a little more breathing room between tables. It has settled in to being a reliable mainstay of Palm Beach and has the prices to go along with that exalted position. Along the way, executive chef Glen Manfra has sized up the prevailing local palate and pulled back from the more exotic offerings that were on the menu when the restaurant first opened. As he sees it, 1 ) Manfra V -i 'P-"""" I ' - -3 ' CiT llM .j'-vji. f. .! . L! ill ALISON REDLICHStaff Photographer A WORLD APART: The Galaxy Grille in Palm Beach offers a fascinating menu filled with selections such as lobster quesadilla, rotisserie duck and wasabi potatoes. ADDRESS: 350 South County Road, Palm Beach. Phone: 833-9909 ATMOSPHERE: Frenzied and festive, with large windows onto Palm Beach. PRICE RANGE: Appetizers: $5.95-$13.95; Pastas: $16.95-$20.95; Grille & Rotisserie: $19.95-$29.95; Desserts: $7.95. EARLY OFFERS: Happy Hour two-for-one drinks, 4-6 p.m., Monday-Friday. HOURS: Monday-Saturday: lunch, 1 1:30 a.m. -3 p.m.; afternoon menu, 3-5 p.m.; dinner, 5-11 p.m.; Sunday, dinner only, 5-11 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday, late night menu with dancing until 2:30 a.m. CREDIT CARDS: American Express, MasterCard, Visa. RESERVATIONS: Definitely advisable, gets very busy during season; seats 153. WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes. NO-SMOKING SECTION: Yes, the back of the dining room by the kitchen. What the stars mean: Extraordinary Excellent Good Fair (None) Poor one had to chop through to get to the smooth custard underneath. Each dessert was $7.95, and each was an adventure in decadence. Actually, we were being fairly frugal, calorically speaking, having passed on the several dense chocolate creations. Manfra prides himself on the hazelnut chocolate cake, I later found out. That is reason enough to return soon. Even to battle the crush in season. Regardless of what this year's wave of new dining options on Palm Beach brings, Galaxy Grille looks and tastes ready to be around for a long time to come. cuisine. Credit cards: AE, MC. V. Price range: Moderate. "Ciao is small, cozy, as any good Italian restaurant must be The fare looks simple, but It says eat, drink, be happy with elegant understatement." Paul Reid. Nov. 14, 1997. Craig's An American Bistro, 2419 South Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach. Phone: 655-2100. American cuisine. "Craig's offers a casual dining experience marked by bold spice choices and creative flavor combinations." Hap Erstein. Food and Service. Oct. 10, 1997 Cuclna Dell' Arte, 257 Royal Poinciana Way, Palm Beach. Phone: 655-0770. Italian cu- 1'lease see RESTAURANTS, loaded with shrimp, scallops, cala-mari circles, clams and mussels, was cheesy and flavorful, without being rendered too salty (a neat trick that is labor-intensive and timing-crucial in a busy, prime-time kitchen). I made a bee-line for the rotisserie duck ($22.95), which arrived crispy, relatively devoid of fat and yet quite juicy. A marvel. Beneath the bird was a landing pad of buttery mashed sweet potatoes, a perfectly good alternative to the wasabi concoction. Galaxy's wine list is more than adequate, with prices commensurate with the food. We were pleased with a crisp Pinot Grigio from Santa Margherita, a mid-range choice at $38. The three of us were full after our entrees, but a job's a job, so we pushed on to dessert. A server brought over a tray of seductive creations, from which we chose a lemon meringue pie, a creme bru-lce and a dish of berries in an airy sabayon custard sauce. The brulee had a serious glazed surface that or it breaks down easily. Rather than ask us, the servers just guessed very badly. For his entree, our guest selected a daily special, a substantial veal chop, ordered and received medium rare, a succulent treat ($29.95). Having been intrigued by an accompaniment on another dish, he asked to trade in his starch for the wasabi potatoes, a request that was unblinkingly accommodated. They are undoubtedly not for every taste, but Chef Manfra gets points for spiking his creamy mashed potatoes with the three-alarm green Japanese mustard. No matter what I order here in the future, I will be requesting the wasabi spuds alongside. Also served with the special was a gathering of crispy fried onions that generated smiles. Choosing from the eight entrees in a pasta and rice section of the menu that includes two pad thai noodle dishes, my wife zeroed in on a risotto seafood ($20.95). This mound of fluffy yet firm rice, za with a rich, mild cheese that complemented the sweet lobster chunks without overpowering them. Our retired dentist friend operated on the crispy seafood rolls ($9.95), an. occidental version of spring rolls served with a zesty, yet not cloying fruit sauce. I opted for the grilled porta-bello mushroom ($9.95), accompanied by chunk-cut tomatoes and topped with goat cheese. Three winners out of the gate. Taking our order, our waiter was personable and chatty, launching into an intriguing anecdote about dolphins as he described the specials and answered menu questions. We meant to ask his name, but Galaxy Grille uses a team serving system and we never saw him again after our order was taken. Others brought the right dishes, but uncannily for a party of three placed each appetizer and entree down in front of a wrong diner. Either the restaurant doesn't have a system for passing on the word of who ordered what CENTRAL PALM BEACH Amlci Ristorante and Bar, 288 S. County Road (comer of Royal Palm Way) Palm Beach. Phone: 832-0201. Italian cuisine. Credit cards: AC. "Owner Glen Mantra's creative Italian cuisine has some Oriental touches. But that's not to say traditional dishes are sacrificed. And the pizzas baked in a wood-burning oven are perfection. The menu changes on a daily basis." Herbert Perez-Vidal. "Vj Food; Service April 14, 1995. Ben t Steak House and Lounge, 3400 S. Congress Ave., Palm Springs. Phone 967-3400. Steakhouse. Credit cards: AE, DIS, MC. V. Price range; Moderate. "Owner Gary Spears the kitchen's strength is its sea-food dishes, but our visit found him to be far more versatile. Galaxy Grille is a feast for the eyes, as well as the taste buds. At the back of the long, narrow room, a cadre of cooks scurry about in the gleaming open kitchen, seemingly choreographed in a culinary two-step by chef Manfra. It works as a floor show, in case you are dining before 11 p.m., when a few tables get whisked away and a part of the back dining area becomes a deejay-driven dance floor into the wee hours. To tide diners over as they "devour the menu, exceedingly crunchy, pretzel-like bread sticks and good firm bread arrive. With them is a tangy peanut spread, studded with white and black sesame seeds. Choosing from the dozen or so appetizers, my wife went for a high-end lobster quesadilla ($13.95), an up-scale Mexican piz- i. RESTAURANT CAPSULES Restaurants listed have been reviewed by former restaurant critic Herbert Perez-Vidal and current restaurant critics Hap Erstein, Paul Reid and others. Credit cards accepted by restaurants are indicated by: AC all major cards; AE American Express; DC Diners Club; MC MasterCard; V Visa; Dis. Discover; CB Carte Blanche. Cost of dining is indicated by the average cost of the entrees: inexpensive $10 or less; . moderate $ 1 0-S20; expensive $20 or more. ' . range: Moderate. ' 'Diners can match 1 3 different types of pasta with a choice of 15 sauces. Break the linguine or angel-hair habit and try some farfalle or pappardelle with a zesty putanesca sauce and add some excitement to your dining." Herbert Perez-Vidal Food and Service March 10, 1995 Casa Gabriel 6200 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach. Phone: (561) 586-0303. Spanish cuisine. Credit cards: AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V. Price range: Moderate, with several entrees under $10 and a few over $20. "Amid a friendly atmosphere, two chefs do credit to a menu of Spanish, Continental and Cuban dishes." Herbert Perez-Vidal. Food and Service Nov. 8, 1996 Clao Ristorante, 3416 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach. Phone 659-2426. Italian started with Ben's Barbecue on Military Trail and decided to offer customers a more upscale dining experience, but still offer excellent value. Ben's not only does steaks, but its seafood also provides a tine catch for any meal." Herbert Perez-Vidal. Food; Service May 26, 1995 Brazilian Court The Chancellor Grille Room, 301 Australian Ave., Palm Beach. Continental cuisine. Phone: 665-7740. Credit cards: AE, CB, DC, DIS, MC, V. Price range: Moderate. "The cuisine is something to experience and then rave about. " Herbert Perez-Vidal. Food; Service, Jan. 6, 1995 Caprlcdo's Ristorante, Luria't Plaza, 1322 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach. Phone: 689-8900. Italian cuisine. Cash only. Price .