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FL - 11 Maple Street in Jensen Beach


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#1 Rail Paul

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 02:08 AM

Jensen Beach is a town on the Florida mainland, the last town in Martin county before it crosses over into St Lucie county. It's also the location for the "middle bridge" over to south Hutchinson island. Unlike most of Martin county, it has a lot of the feel of St Lucie county with a sense of sprawl, jarring development, and crazy road patterns. The two counties often contrast in their sense of layout, growth, etc.

11 Maple Street is a restaurant in the center of the old town of Jensen Beach, which is about four blocks by four blocks. The local landmark is a really insane intersection with a shopping center driveway, a busy railroad crossing, a traffic circle, three local roads, and a second traffic circle, all within about 300 feet. I stopped by 11 Maple tonight to check out the menu and the place.

It's a lovely restaurant, with the bar partly outside, and a low ceiling main room. A trailer park is at the end of the block, and there's a tattoo parlor across the street. (See what I mean?)

The menu is divided into small plates and large plates. 17 of the former and four of the latter on the current menu. The small plates menu reads incredibly well. Blue crab cake with fried green tomato and carrot reduction ($20). Grilled wahoo loin with tea leaf salad ($24), wood grilled quail with Italian yellow squash, fired roasted peppers ($25), Waygu hanger steak with onion rings ($24), etc. Black rice and calamari fritters ($11), asparagus with kurobato pork belly ($16), etc.

Large plates move up a ways in price. Red snapper with prawns ($44), duck breast and duck leg confit with buttered root vegetable mash ($38), elk tenderloin with faro ($46) is way beyond the usual range for what passes as fine dining in these parts. TripAdvisor has a number of complaints about "New York prices". It would be tough to get out of here for under $60-$80 a person, I'd think, if you had something to drink

The menu that was shared with me doesn't include wine prices, although the suggested wines with each small plate suggest a good hand was employed in the wine selection process.

The employee with whom I spoke said they are slammed with Valentine's Day and spillover into Wednesday, however space is available on many nights W-Th, and on F-Sa a week or two ahead. We will be going soon, I'm sure. I'm looking forward to it.

“Jazz musicians just get better and better as the years go by. I think chefs are the same way. You know who you are.”

 

...Jonathan Waxman


#2 Eatmywords

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Posted 14 February 2012 - 03:35 PM

A whole thread already and you havenít even been yet? I hope itís good. :P

Wowee those prices are kind of crazy. Significantly higher from what I remember a couple years ago. But if they can get them, esp in that part of the world, they must be doing something right. The small plates though are not small at all. We made a nice meal out of 4 or 5 of them. (couple pics in the Jupiter thread). There's certainly a segment that will gladly spring for this (special occassions for the most part) but they're not going to forgive skimpy portions.

Being what they are for where they are you can imagine itís the kind of place that appreciates informed diners on any level. A bit of knowledge and curiosity went a ways for how we were treated.

#3 Rail Paul

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 02:36 PM

This restaurant was a wonderful experience. They hit all the right notes, and did so many things well. I liked it a lot.

Charming is the best way to describe the interior / exterior. Wood framed, looks like an old time fish house, with steps up to a porch (a ramp is provided on the side), and series of small alcoves just inside the door. The main room seats about 40 people, a room to the side seats about 10, two small alcoves have a single table each. The outdoor porch wraps around on several levels with two tables here, one table there, etc. I'd estimate the place seats about 80 people. We were outside, by choice, on the front porch, so we could see the crowds, couples, etc moving to and from open galleries, booths, etc in the arty area right off the Boulevard.

The menu features small plates (described as Tapas sized, larger than an appetizer size, about 3 oz of protein), and large plates (described as 8 oz of protein). Small plates were $10 to $25, large plates ran up to $47, very high for this section of Florida. Everything was on the daily printed menu, nothing was recited.

Black rice, calamari fritters with spicy Thai salsa ($11). Excellent, crisp, thin skinned fritters wrapped around jet black rice flecked with calamari. No grease at all, but quite warm. These would be a great passed item at a party. Served with a fragrant green salsa. Six fritters.

Blue crab cake with fried green tomato, and a carrot reduction ($20). OK, but a little disappointing. Standout plating, with a six inch tower of (deep) fried green tomato topped with a small, bready, light on the crab cake. That was crowned with a deep fried onion ring and a cherry tomato. Nice visual, but tasted largely of breading. Excellent carrot reduction, almost a carrot syrup, on the plate. Eh.

Rare grilled wahoo loin with tea leaf salad and ponzu aioli. $24. Really interesting plating, with two generous sized pieces of fish. One inch thick, probably three inches wide steaks. Perfectly cooked fish plated on the right of the dish. One side of one loin presented the grilled edge, the other loin presented the grill marks on an outside surface. (They cooked the steak, then cut the piece on a diagonal, giving one rare side and five sides with grill marks.)

The tea leaf salad was set off from the fish by a line of dried tea powder. Again, great plating and visual. The left side of the plate was a two inch high circle of tea leaves, chopped celery, chopped shallots, chopped carrots, and a wonderful ponzu like dressing. An almost addictive taste.

A large plate of oak grilled natural duck breast and duck leg confit with buttered root vegetable mash, pecans, and caramelized pear essence. The server carefully explained that the duck leg was cooked all the way through, although it retains its moisture. "But it is cooked all the way through" - I'm guessing they've had push back. The breast is cooked medium rare, because our chef believes that shows off the best qualities of the duck.

This was a wonderful preparation of duck. Just excellent. Moist, bursting with flavor. dripping with taste. Perfectly framed with a puree of potato, parsnip, and the pear essence. This is a dish I could eat every night.

Dessert was a shared peanut butter pie. A little two sweet for me.

Service was unobtrusive, but observant. Well trained, silver was changed out at each delivery of food, etc.

The restaurant was probably 80% full, I was told Fr and Sa can be slammed, but reservations are usually available if you are willing to dine at 8.30 or 9. It looked like a number of people looked at the posted menu outside and decided to come in. For a restaurant with these prices, in this area, that surprised me a bit.

Very casual. A few people wore casual clothes, dressy jeans, I didn't see anyone with a jacket or a tie.

Valet parking alongside the building.

The tab came to $150 with tax and four glasses of wine, but before tip. The restaurant has a pair of enomatic machines with about 12 wines available. I noticed them changing out bottles during the service, so it seems they were getting some action. The small plates list suggests wines or sake for each item, so there may have been more ports elsewhere in the place

“Jazz musicians just get better and better as the years go by. I think chefs are the same way. You know who you are.”

 

...Jonathan Waxman


#4 Eatmywords

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Posted 24 February 2012 - 03:52 PM

Nice report! You captured it so well. Happy you had a nice experience.

Having sampled the area fare (much more than us I have to think) isnít Maple kind of a surreal experience? I mean some of it is heavy handed and dated but no one is doing anything nearly as refined (down there) that we know of.

#5 Rail Paul

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 09:39 PM

I'm thinking about Florida in late January and February, and beginning to prepare a list of places to check out.

The Yelp comments on 11 Maple are unanimously favorable. I don't think I've ever seen that for a dozen or so comments over a year. There's always something bitchin' and moanin' about something with just about every restaurant listed.

27 for food on Zagat, too. "Wood grilled Spanish day boat octopus w/farro, lemon, trumpet mushrooms and saffron aioli" sounds like something I'd enjoy.

Small plates, big prices

“Jazz musicians just get better and better as the years go by. I think chefs are the same way. You know who you are.”

 

...Jonathan Waxman