As he sat at a corner table inside 1000 North, Lee Morris, the Jupiter restaurant’s executive chef, couldn’t help but smile. Morris saw that the four-month old restaurant was quickly filling up on this weekday evening; and he saw Jupiter Lighthouse standing guard over the Jupiter Inlet waterway that borders 1000 North.
“When I first stepped into this project,’’ Morris said as a his eyes searched the main dining room, “this was a concrete slab.’’
As it enters its first Summer season – with a new Summer menu that debuts June 3 – the concrete slab has risen to be one of top dining destinations in all of South Florida, featuring more-than 8,000 square-feet if dining space and an upstairs private club. Presented with the equivalent of a blank canvas on which to paint, Morris at 1000 North has created a masterwork of a menu, highlighted by various cuts of Prime steaks, fresh fish, small plates and Lowcountry cuisine that pays homage to his culinary education at Johnson & Wales in Charleston, S.C.
The opportunity to create from scratch (pardon the pun), “was definitely one of the most intriguing parts of this project,’’ Morris said.
“Completely from the ground up. There wasn’t brick and mortar; no people; just a vision. I sort of looked around and shook my head and said this was going to be an incredible place to work because of the people involved.’’
Those people – founding partners – include legendary NBA legend Michael Jordan, World Golf Hall of Famer Ernie Els and Wine Aficionado magazine publisher Marvin Shanken and developers Ira Fenton and Tucker Frederickson.
Fenton and Frederickson, the latter of whom played for the New York Giants, each were part of the team that developed The Bear’s Club and The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa, Jupiter (now Trump National Golf Club, Jupiter). Add in managing director Luke Bjoin, who spent most of his career working with celebrated Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, and Morris, whose resume’ includes such acclaimed restaurants as Charleston Chops and The Palm in Nashville, and 1000 North was born.
“It certainly was a little bit daunting,’’ Morris said. “Building a restaurant from the ground up is a lot of work. But I knew it was something that I wanted to do -and I definitely wanted to do something different that what I had been doing in the past.
“There was a lot of give and take from my vision, the owners’ vision and then what the market really could handle. We all agreed on the third – that Jupiter and this market needed a higher-end restaurant of this caliber and in this type of setting.’’
1000 North’s menu features dishes such as Morris’ take on Charleston She Crab Soup with lump crab, sherry, smoked paprika; and a “must have’’ Sweet Corn Caesar Salad with cotija cheese, cornbread crumble and charred corn relish. Each is a good (and delicious) example of Morris’ ability to take somewhat familiar dishes and elevating them to the next level.
Likewise, with 1000 North’s Prime steak program. Each of the six Prime steak plates comes with a choice of house composed butters – point reyes blue cheese and fig; au poivre; béarnaise; and maître d’hôtel. The butters are a terrific attention to detail – as is the hard-to-find Minus 8 dressing on the Little Gem salad – that helps create an exceptional dining experience at 1000 North.
“Ira and Tucker were very open to what I wanted to do and what I thought the market could do,’’ Morris said. “We knew what caliber this restaurant had to be. We had to elevate the level of cuisine to fit what we wanted to do.’’
In that regard, Morris’ menu at 1000 North sets the bar high.