There aren’t too many places I go out to in Boynton Beach. Sure, there’s Prime Catch for seafood and an intracoastal view, the chain restaurants near the Boynton Beach Mall and… Sweetwater Bar and Grill.
I’ve passed Sweetwater a bunch of times and never stopped in. It’s tucked into a mixed use condo complex at the corner of Woolbright and Federal Highway where the first floor of the building has never been able to attract retail tenants as the developer expected. However, the diminutive space occupied by Sweetwater was full of thirsty and hungry people during my Thursday night visit.
As I drove up, the first thing I that went into my mind was, “where do I park?” I found an entrance to the complex that led to a parking garage where the first two levels are reserved for people visiting the retail establishments while the upper floors are for the residents. Parking was free by the way.
Once I walked in I got the feeling that this was a neighborhood bar that has its fair share of regulars. There are a few tables outside, but none of them were occupied. Inside, every table was taken – there’s only a few – and there was one seat open at the bar. I snagged it and started talking to the guy next to me – a regular.
He told me he lives upstairs and comes here all the time because they “have great food and make awesome cocktails.”
I would expect none the less from an establishment that bills itself as a “cool, rustic haunt spotlighting New American small plates & mains, plus inventive craft cocktails.”
The bartender presented me with a beer/cocktail list as well as a food menu. Craft beers are the star and I started off with a Victory Golden Monkey with a 9.5% ABV. Phew! As I gazed around the bar and the dining room, I quickly fell in love with the decor. Funky, cook, art/antiques line the walls and shelves while the back of the bar is one giant wall full of whiskey, bourbon, vodka, gin, scotch and other assorted bottles of alcohol that ran the gamut from everyday to the old and rare.
I watched as the bartenders made crafty drinks for those wanting to quench their thirst and felt a little bad that I ordered a beer because I wanted to sample some of what I could consider artisan cocktails.
After looking over the menu there were several things that caught my eye such as the Charcuterie & Artisan Cheese Plate (artisan cheeses, fine aged meats, pickled vegetables, tupelo honey & marinated olives) which my new friend at the bar steered me away from. The Crispy Brussels Sprouts (piment d’espelette, bread crumbs, maple & applewood bacon, lemon brown butter) were something else I wanted to try along with some Korean Tacos which sounded amazing.
I turned to “the regular” and asked what he would recommend. For a started he steered me towards two, the Grilled Spanish Octopus (northern white beans, fingerling potatoes, dehydrated olives, tips, marcona almonds, orange segments, piquillo coulis) or the Hand-Pulled Mozzarella (heirloom tomatoes, olive tapenade, roasted garlic, rosemary, basil & balsamic reduction). Not being a fan of grilled octopus, I settled on the mozzarella.
The mozzarella was a little on the hard side. I prefer mine a little softer than this was, but it was good none the less. The roasted garlic was a highlight of the appetizer and something you don’t get many places. The size made this appetizer perfect for sharing.
Looking for a main course, there were a few daily features, one of them being breaded lamb chops, which came highly recommended by “the regular” and the bartender.
They came out served on top of a salad which had quinoa, artichokes, roasted peppers and a light dressing. The two lamb chops were breaded but not greasy, were an average size, not a double-cut, and cooked to medium. Overall not a bad dish, but I was still a bit on the hungry side.
Wanting to see how they would serve up my signature drink, a dirty martini, I ordered one. Served in a goblet-style glass than a martini glass, the cocktail was made perfectly filthy. You don’t know the struggle I have at certain establishments when I order a filthy martini. Just the other night at the Meatball Room in Boca Raton, I ordered a filthy martini. It came out pure vodka. The filthy martini served at Sweetwater was crafted perfect to my liking, which is a huge plus in my book!
I happened to glance over at the dessert menu written on a chalkboard on the side of the bar and saw Funnel Cake Fries listed. I was tempted, but didn’t give in.
Maybe next time.
During the course of the evening I was told that Sweetwater is a busy – make that very busy – spot and that I happened to be lucky enough to grab a seat at the bar on a Thursday. “The regular” told me that most people who frequent the place get there early (6pm or so) and make a night of it. He did mention that they are planning to expand into a vacant space next door due to the popularity of the place.
Overall, good food, great cocktail list, funky decor, service at the bar was good and the bartenders were friendly.
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