Southern-inspired redoubles Sassafras in downtown West Palm


From his kitchen at Sassafras Restaurant in downtown West Palm Beach, Chef John Thomas can see South Carolina’s Lowcountry and Sea Islands, where the rice and oatmeal on his menu are grown.

He can see the dairy farm in southwest Georgia producing French tomme which it melts in its mornay sauce. He can see the Treasure Coast and Panhandle oyster farms that cultivate the delicate oysters he serves.

That was his roadmap at the trendy southern restaurant that opened four months before the pandemic closed: focusing on the nuance of its ingredients.

Sassafras Restaurant opened in November 2019 in downtown West Palm Beach.

Instead of trying to reinvent the restaurant or move away from its original inspiration, Thomas and his team of chefs are doubling down on Sassafras’ southern identity.

“We do things that few places in our region do,” says Thomas of Sassafras using specialty ingredients.

The restaurant takes a folkloristic approach to the menu, selecting products with a sense of history.

“We source our real Carolina Gold rice. It’s a food we cook with reverence and respect because of its unfortunate history, ”says Thomas, referring to the slave labor that fueled South Carolina’s lucrative rice production in the 1700s and 1800s.

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Thomas refreshes the menu daily, highlighting daily specials around a core of basic items.

“What I like to do is take the freshest local fish and serve it in a crudo or ceviche. And we always love to make a cut of butcher’s steak, ”he says.

Executive Chef John Thomas' Glizzy Foie Gras and Black Truffle is a modern southern take on a classic French sausage.  It is served at the Sassafras Restaurant in West Palm Beach.

Not all classics are taken at face value here. The creative side of Thomas and his team is evident in one of his more recent dishes, a black truffle and foie gras sausage topped with caramelized onions, mornay sauce and truffle shavings. It’s a modern take on a traditional French sausage, with added street cred. They call it the Foie Gras + Black Truffe Glizzy ($ 28), “glizzy” being the hot dog slang.

“It’s a classic French black pudding, but we have fun with it,” says Thomas.

He melts a rich and creamy Thomasville Georgia Tomme into a classic bechamel sauce to make a mornay sauce for the sausage, which he serves on a lobster bun made by Old School Bakery in Delray Beach.

“It’s the high eyebrow and low eyebrow thing. When people have it, they absolutely love it, ”he says. “I’m just trying to have fun and use the best ingredients we can find.”

Shrimp and oatmeal with bacon, green onions and a homemade hot sauce are served at Sassafras in downtown West Palm Beach.


Located at 105 S. Narcissus Ave., West Palm Beach, 561-323-7007,

Open for aperitif and dinner Wednesday and Thursday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight. Open for Sunday brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 11 p.m. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Oysters are $ 1 Thursday night at Sassafras Restaurant in downtown West Palm Beach.

Weekly Offers:

  • Happy hour is served throughout the restaurant daily from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. with over 15 dishes at $ 5 or less and drinks at half the price.
  • On Wednesdays, there’s a $ 15 “Bubbles and Birds” special (three-piece fried chicken dinner with two sides and a cheddar cookie) that is combined with a half-price deal on sparkling wine and beer.
  • Thursdays are $ 1 nights featuring Florida oysters served with a cocktail sauce and a mignonette of pickle juice made with homemade pickles.
  • At Sunday brunch, there is an unlimited $ 20 offer on mimosas and Bellinis.

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