News Source: www.palmbeachpost.com
Restaurant opening: New York’s Blue Dog Cookhouse debuts in Boca Raton
News Source/Courtesy: www.palmbeachpost.com

Reservations for The Blue Dog have been streaming in for days, with dinner seatings fully booked for its first week. Popular for brunch in New York, the Boca outpost will offer brunch daily.

Riding the wave of New York restaurants opening outposts in Palm Beach County, Midtown Manhattan’s Blue Dog Cookhouse and Bar will debut a Boca Raton location Thursday, April 7.

The Blue Dog, which has breathed new life into the former Zinburger Wine and Burger Bar space at the Town Center mall, is known for its polished approach to American comfort dishes. In New York, its theater-district restaurant is a popular brunch spot that often has a two-hour wait for brunch, says owner Armando Soto.

“Once you come to the restaurant and experience the food and the service, you’ll understand the reason why,” he said of The Blue Dog, which was founded in 2006 and later underwent a menu expansion and concept shift (from café to full service restaurant).

At the new Boca Raton location, more spacious than the Manhattan restaurant, brunch will be served daily, just as it is in New York, as well as lunch and dinner.

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Soto and Blue Dog founder and operator Elizabeth Slavutsky chose Boca Raton for their first Florida location because they saw promise in the area's energy and growth. They also saw a pandemic-era shift in a once-seasonal market. Slavutsky, who has been a part-time resident of South Florida for several years, says she has witnessed a shift to year-round residency in the Boca Raton area.

“There was a great deal of market research done before securing this space. You used to see some fluctuation, but now there’s no fluctuation,” she says.

With the influx of northerners comes transplanted expectations, she says.

“Boca has been and continues to be the sixth borough of New York. The people from the Northeast expect an experience that they’re satisfied with, from the taste to the service. That’s what I want to bring to the community,” says Slavutsky.

Days before the restaurant’s opening, diners seem equally eager. Dinner service at the 220-seat restaurant is “fully committed” for The Blue Dog’s first week, says Slavutsky. And reservation requests for Easter Sunday brunch on April 17 have been streaming in for days, she says.

“I highly encourage people to make reservations. We take them only 30 days in advance,” says Soto.

What to expect on Blue Dog Cookhouse's menu

Diners can expect large, diverse menus that aim to accommodate a variety of appetites. The menu is designed to “appeal to everybody and anybody,” says Slavutsky.

“We don’t have a specific cuisine. It’s a blended menu, allowing for us to explore our creativity, which makes it more fun,” she says.

The daily brunch menu offers various types of egg sandwiches, eggs Benedict dishes, customized omelets and specials that include fried chicken and waffles, huevos rancheros and pumpkin-stuffed French toast.

At dinner, the menu takes an upscale-tavern turn with starter and shareable bites that include grilled octopus with yuzu chimichurri, handmade chicken dumplings with citrus ponzu,  butternut squash fries with spicy harissa aioli, bone marrow crab cake served with toast points and charred lemon and buffalo cauliflower with sweet chili and blue cheese ranch.

Heftier plates include shareable steak plates like a dramatically presented filet mignon trio in which each filet has a different topping and starch bed, a 32-ounce prime tomahawk and a 48-ounce porterhouse.

Main plates also include Maine lobster mac and cheese, crusted ahi tuna with forbidden rice and tamarind teriyaki, and braised short ribs with horseradish mashed potatoes.

Add to that a range of pasta dishes like truffled wild mushroom gnocchi and seafood tagliatelle, signature burgers and entrée-worthy salads. And there's a full cocktail bar directed by veteran mixologist and beverage manager Nesha Korak.

Soto and Slavutsky have hired San Diego executive chef Chris Barre to lead the Boca Raton kitchen. Barre will work with Blue Dog’s corporate chef Yanna Slavutsky, who is Elizabeth Slavutsky’s mother.

“He’s bringing an entirely different spin to things,” says Slavutsky.

The Boca dinner menu, for instance, is different from that of New York’s.

“The dinner menu is a far more elevated concept,” she says. “The plan is to mirror that back to New York once we have it in full force.”

Elevated doesn’t mean white tablecloths, she notes.

“We have handcrafted wood tables that are American-made, without the white tablecloths. It won’t feel stuffy here but the level of food quality will surpass your expectations,” says Slavutsky.

The Blue Dog’s debut in Boca Raton is just the first step in a larger expansion plan for the brand, she says.

“There’s great opportunity for expansion here. Everyone who has moved to Florida, we’re like-minded individuals and share expectations when it comes to the dining experience,” says Slavutsky.

Owner Soto calls The Blue Dog’s expansion plan “a very aggressive national rollout.”

“I’d love for it to begin in Florida,” he says. “I really believe Florida will become the financial center of the world.”

The Blue Dog Cookhouse and Bar

Located at the entrance of the Town Center mall, 6000 Glades Rd., Suite 1008C, Boca Raton, 561-961-3330, BlueDogBoca.com.

Hours: Open daily for brunch, lunch and dinner. Brunch is served from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and a small plates menu from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dinner is served Sunday through Wednesday from 5 to 11 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight.

Reservations can be made on the website at BlueDogBoca.com/visit.

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