Seeking a bit of warmth my wife and I recently headed (appropriately enough) to the Sunshine State. One of our favorite pastimes is finding out-of-the-way restaurants where we might find an interesting meal, stunning view, or great service. Preferably all three.
Located on busy US1, the Pelican Café in Lake Park is not out-of-the-way. But its cozy ambience, comforting menu, and absolutely sterling service checked all the right boxes for Jan and me. The restaurant’s owners, who are transplants from Connecticut, claim the Pelican Café is “where Nantucket meets the Florida Keys.” The description fits.
The layout is quaint and homey, with a well-proportioned dining room, small and intimate bar, and spacious wraparound outdoor deck. The weather was so Florida-nice that we chose to sit on the deck and enjoy the evening and the view.
Let me pause here for one moment to harp on a pet peeve: restaurant lighting. I am a stickler for lighting that allows a diner to read a menu and then, once served, be able to make sure the plate in front of them is the correct entrée. Most places try to set a romantic mood with sparse illumination or else go all the way in the other direction by making you dine under a spotlight. The Pelican Café gets the lighting, even on the outdoor deck, which is a notable achievement.
I also believe the old adage that a good meal can be spoiled by a bad waiter. Again, not the case here. The wait staff was in top form – attentive without being obsequious, helpful without being forceful. The service alone was enough to bring us back again.
However, right from the start the food was on par with the excellent service. We are both observing “dry January” so our taste buds were not dulled by pre-dinner drinks but were alive and alert for what the chef had to offer.
We enjoyed bread that was an amazing culinary treat. We had to force ourselves to turn down a second helping lest we fill up before the entrees arrived. Jan started with a very tasty mini-pasta dish, while I enjoyed a very fresh chopped salad.
For the main course Jan ordered a simple broiled filet of sole, which is, oddly, difficult to find in Florida. Jan described it as “elegant” and “wonderful,” although she may have been talking about me. Her sole was paired with a delicious broccoli rabe and roasted potatoes that were “done to perfection.”
Surprisingly, I could not find a pork chop on the menu and had to “settle” for the veal chop, with pureed sweet potatoes and broccoli. The portion was more than ample, prepared perfectly and simply scrumptious.
We skipped dessert in favor of a pair of cappuccinos (decaf). But, had we kept our silverware from dinner, we might have used it to attack the key lime pie and tiramisu we spotted being served at the next table. They looked that good.
If you choose to chase the sun in Palm Beach County this winter, I highly recommend the trip us US1 to Lake Park to the Pelican Café.
612 North US Hwy 1
Lake Park, FL 33403