How do you find a good seafood restaurant? Find a chef who is a fisherman. It’s even better if the chef has fished the waters just outside the restaurant’s front door. Such is the case with Aaron Brooks, Chef de Cuisine at PB Catch in Palm Beach, Fla.
“This is my home,’’ said Black, who grew up in nearby Jupiter and is a graduate of the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach. “I know these waters and I know these diners.’’
The diners know Black, too, which helps make PB Catch one of the more popular restaurants in Palm Beach County. Opened in 2012 on Sunrise Ave. in the heart of Palm Beach island, PB Catch bills itself as Palm Beach’s “most authentic’’ seafood house and raw bar. And it doesn’t disappoint – from the 350-gallon gallon saltwater aquarium – featured on National Geographic’s “Fish Tank Kings’’ show – to the myriad of raw bar selections to the menu itself.
“We really try to react to what’s going on the seafood world,’’ Black said. “We stay local as much as we can, but we when get some fantastic things nationally, we definitely address those. We change the menu probably daily to some extent and every couple of months do an overhaul.’’
Regardless of the day, Black’s menu is outstanding, beginning with what might be the best raw bar in South Florida, featuring generous varieties of oysters, stone crab and shrimp. The shrimp at PB Catch, is a “must have,’’ whether it’s at the raw bar or as a menu item. Much of the brown shrimp comes from the waters off the coast of Cape Canaveral, about 120 miles north of Palm Beach; the royal red shrimp come from the same waters, but from deeper nets.
“The regular brown shrimp have incredible flavor,’’ Black said. “The royal red shrimp come from more than 1,000 feet. They’re totally in the dark and have a high fat content that you can’t cook them medium well, you have to cook them medium.’’
From the raw bar, move on to the menu and my favorite – the Seacuterie. Black and PB Catch have taken the Charcuterie “food on board’’ experience that is traditionally pork, beef and cured meats and deliciously moved into seafood. Guests can choose three items off the Seacuterie menu ($16) or six items ($29). My favorites are the Salmon Pastrami, Octopus Torchon, and Cured Sea Bass.
Stone Crabs are now is season and PB Catch offers them as large as eight ounces and more with terrific house made mustard sauce and fresh lemon.
The Crispy Shrimp Ravioli with asparagus, button mushroom and lobster sauce, is another favorite, as is the swordfish from the waters off nearby Ft. Pierce.
Regardless of your favorite, each item is prepared with Black’s minimalist style of cooking that has made him one of South Florida’s leading chefs.
“We really try to let the fish speak,’’ Black said. “I don’t over garnish it. We rarely crush things expect of rare occasions. For the most part I like to just put a good sear on it with a subtle sauce and some nice aromatics – like citrus. That’s been very successful for us.’’