Most people only talk about “living the dream.’’ Lindsay Autry not only is living the dream, she’s cooking it, too.
A North Carolina native with a smile as bright as her talent, Autry’s The Regional Kitchen & Public House in West Palm (near the entrance to the CityPlace dining/entertainment complex) is the best new restaurant in West Palm Beach in 2016. There, I said it. Hands down, the best.
The Regional’s menu is a delicious example of Autry’s professional history, from her childhood on a North Carolina farm to her days as a protégé’ for Chef Michelle Bernstein at Azul in Miami and various Bernstein eateries in Mexico to a TV “Top Chef’’ finalist.
Perhaps the best way to first experience The Regional is a Saturday or Sunday brunch that features some of Autry’s more popular dishes, including Pimento Cheese Dip (made table side), Fried Chicken Thighs and Tomato Pie, each of which celebrate her Southern heritage.
“The majority of my career has been spent in hotels doing all day dining,’’ Autry said. “I really like brunch – I like for it to have a good mix.’’
Start with the Tomato Pie, featuring roasted tomatoes, caramelized onions, sharp cheddar and herbs. It’s a throwback to Autry’s days a little girl eating fresh tomato sandwiches.
“Very southern,’’ Autry said in her equally as Southern Carolina accent.
The Pimento Cheese dip also is very southern. Even for those who don’t think they like pimento cheese, do yourselves a favor and get Autry’s version, served with homemade club crackers as well as options for crab, jalapenos and bacon.
“A lot of people put it on hot stuff, like a burger, but I don’t like it hot,’’ Autry said. “I’m a purist. I like it cold. But I wanted to elevate it so we decided to (prepare) it at the table.’’
Want more Southern? The Fried Chicken Thighs are a ‘’must have.’’ The Cornmeal Flapjacks with blueberry jam might be the lightest you’ll ever eat; and the Loaded Mill Grits with hoop cheddar, grilled scallions, crispy bacon and roasted jalapenos make even Northern grits nay-sayers into believers.
If you haven’t didn’t get to The Regional in 2016, make it a priority dining experience for brunch or dinner in 2017.You’ll be a believer, too.