Market 17

When Oscar Wilde said, “After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relatives,” he must have been channeling Market 17. This elegant eatery located in the Portside Yachting Center is the brainchild of siblings Kirsta and Aaron Grauberger, who in any other life would have been born in a vineyard, such is their expertise around bottles of wine.

While this may help explain the extensive wine menu with a selection numbering in the hundreds, it hardly prepares the hungry patron for the assortment of items on a dinner menu that changes nightly. That’s right—nightly. Never one to rest on her laurels, executive chef Lauren DeShields recreates your assortment of unusual offerings as if playing pick-up-sticks. You just never know exactly how the palate will play.

On a recent outing with diet guru and society hostess Nikki Haskell, we took the plunge without checking the evening’s menu—though it is available mid-afternoon online at http://www.market17.net/menus.htm.  The concept at Market 17 is farm fresh food…so fresh in fact that what’s plattered tonight was alive and growing this morning.

While it may be tempting to skip the appetizer section and save your appetite for the entrees, part of the fun at Market 17 is the adventure of eating new foods. Translation: antelope satay ($15), served on a bed of soba noodles with a peanut dipping sauce. “You had what for dinner last night, dear? Antelope?” The look on your friends’ faces is worth the risk alone.  Far less trendy, but just as delicious: Market Vegetable Tempura ($12), featuring baby broccoli, snap peas, avocado and fennel with a spicy kimchi aioli. A winner, no matter how you clean the plate. (We used our index fingers when no one was looking.)

Our server Brittany Peterson, otherwise known as the perkiest blonde since Gidget, recommended that I try the Grilled Florida Hereford Boneless Pork Chop ($23 in a petit portion; $36 for entrée size)—“you just can’t go wrong with Hereford pork, honestly.” Of course she was right. It was tender and pink and, when combined with my new favorite legume–smoked beluga lentils—may just win the taste prize of the night.

Mrs. Haskill disagreed, casting her vote firmly in favor of her perfectly cooked and flakey Pan Seared Wild Florida Red Snapper ($23/$36). She pointed out that if the fish were any fresher, we would have had to scale it ourselves. It wasn’t on the plate that long, of course. Nikki is tiny, but she knows her way around a fish fork.  It was served crusted in something created by God herself, and served with herb-roasted sunchokes.

On our next visit, if it’s on the menu, I intend to try the Pan Seared Duck Breast And Duck Confit ($23/$39). This particular evening, while it was listed as an entrée, the ducks apparently were smarter than the hunters for none arrived in the kitchen despite it being on the shopping list.

Happy Hour runs 5 to 7 p.m. nightly with half-priced drinks and appetizers at the bar. That includes the housemade sausages, the Market Ceviche, the Florida Middleneck Clams and Pork Belly, the Cornmeal Crusted Pigtails (if you have to ask, you don’t want to know), and yes, Antelope Satay—on any given day.

Dining in the Dark is another Market 17 fave. In this test of skill and taste buds, you consume your food in a blacked-out room with your fingers. There are night-vision goggles, but only for the servers. Clever Market 17. Tell them Guy Magazine sent you.

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Richard David Chamberlain

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