|Wild salmon yakitori is one of HMF’s intensely focused small plates.|
Globetrotting gourmets were astonished when The Breakers closed L’Escalier, an award-winning dining destination, and began work on a new concept. The hotel hired famed restaurant designer Adam Tihany to revamp the room that once housed L’Escalier and the Tapestry Bar—a place Tihany called “the historical heart of the hotel.”
The result was HMF, which opened in November. Named for Henry Morrison Flagler, the pioneer who built The Breakers and established tourism in South Florida, HMF pays homage to the glamorous, golden era of Palm Beach entertaining, with a mission to restore and refresh the rituals of the cocktail culture.
The space is inviting and welcoming. A combination of comfortable chairs, sofas and loveseats makes for intimate groupings around the large room, setting the stage for socializing, romance, business or whatever your agenda calls for. A stunning glassed-in wine cellar anchors one end, and the space is punctuated by both a cocktail and a sushi bar. HMF is at once traditional and modern, a place where everyone can feel at home.
|Chinese shrimp fried rice.|
The menu is composed of nearly five dozen small plates that rotate on a regular basis. The restaurant’s culinary wingspan is impressive but more so is the faithful and passionate execution. Under Nibbles and Bites, begin with warm Low Country crab dip ($17), rich and velvety, served with homemade potato chips. A bowl of shrimp fried rice ($17) is pleasantly greasy and dotted with tofu, bean sprouts and fresh peas, far superior to what you would find in the best Chinese restaurants. In the Food Truck section, spiced Greek lamb sliders ($20) are the gyros of your dreams: tender and flavorful, topped with yogurt and sandwiched between rounds of pita bread.
The delights go on and on. Whatever you do, don’t miss something from the robata grill, which uses traditional bichotan charcoal to sear the flavors into an assortment of meat, fish, vegetables and pizzas. Wild salmon yakitori ($24) emerges fresh, moist and medium-rare, enhanced with a light brushing of teriyaki—simple yet satisfying. There also is an impressive assortment of sushi, including wahoo tiraditos ($20) and a live sea scallop ($21) with yuzu and smoked salt.
The cocktail selection is evenly split between classics and house creations. Among the HMF Originals, The Redhead (Ketel One Citron, blood orange liqueur, cranberry juice and lime foam, $14) is slightly sweet, a nice change for habitual Cosmo drinkers. Even better is the Railcar #91 ($14), named for Flagler’s private car, a blend of Courvoisier VSOP, fresh lemon juice, local honey and orange foam. The Breakers’ list of 1,600 wines is at your disposal, spearheaded by an interesting group of wines by the glass.
|The Greek-spiced lamb sliders are a true small plate treat at HMF.|
Servers are primarily female, attired in elegant cocktail dresses and looking like they are ready for a night on the town themselves. They are unfailingly polite, friendly and efficient. The dining room is supervised by Michael Ignatowicz, a veteran manager who is constantly circulating, chatting and smiling.
|The vibrant space took its cues from famed restaurant designer Adam Tihany.|
HMF is revolutionary in that it places the customer in charge of the experience, whether you stop in for a drink or a quick espresso or whether you stay and indulge for several hours. Like the era it seeks to recreate, it is sleek, perfectly coifed and thrilling.
HMF at The Breakers
WHERE: One S. County Road, Palm Beach (561-659-8480, hmfpalmbeach.com)
OPEN: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. nightly (food service to 11 p.m.)
FOOD: Eclectic small plates
ATMOSPHERE: Mix of retro and modern
SERVICE: Professional and efficient
RESERVATIONS: None taken
PRICE : Expe nsive
DRESS: From casual to finery
|Two of HMF's signature designer cocktails: Railcar #91 (left), and The Redhead.|
|HMF takes fresh to a new level with the Live Sea Scallop dish.|
Photography by LILA PHOTO