THE FOOD BRO
TOP PHOTOS: LIBBY@LIBBYVISION
The Vote is ‘Aye!’ for Aioli
The place is packed with guys before noon and I recognized two local developers, an attorney, art director, barista from around the corner and even the chef from another restaurant. We bros always know where the best food is and want to be first to the trough.
I’ve been meaning to eat here since January, when the downtown location opened, because Aioli’s food has a four-year track record of wow factor, according to its many disciples who worship at the South Dixie location near Forest Hill. And on more than one occasion when I try to track down the source of delicious bread at a local restaurant, the answer, often hard to get, is Michael Hackman, Aioli’s baker, who gets up at three each morning and is covered in flour by six. He and his charming wife, Melanie, are the owners. My food is always CAPPED and boldfaced, so I normally don’t pay attention to vegan and vegetarian items but they looked and tasted delicious, including a spinach-carrot-cauliflower soup and their ultra-popular white bean and kale.
An office mate of mine is crazed for Aioli’s “Crack Coffee,” an eerily addictive potion made with Pump House espresso, coconut sugar, cayenne, cinnamon and other evocative ingredients that will lead you straight to the nearest 12-step program.
The downtown space is cool, clean, comfortable and noisy in a friendly way that makes you feel ‘socialized.’ I had the spinach and tomato quiche, because no one was around to judge me. It was light as air, as if helium lifted those eggs, and I have my doubts if that’s even legal. The homemade crust was eye-closingly good.
The guy next to me ate a breakfast sandwich made with a buttermilk biscuit, and he refused to engage in conversation as he chewed. You can taste the commitment to fresh ingredients from local sources. The side-salads, including a zucchini-chickpea masterpiece, are standouts. Menu specials every day tend not to repeat on fixed days, which means creativity and passion in the kitchen.
My friend Todd S. recommended the 24-hour oats that they make the night before they’re sold by soaking the best quality grain in an almond milk/fruit mixture, topped the next morning with shaved coconut. “Keeps me healthy and happy,” he said.
There’s a convivial atmosphere behind the counter, too. Melanie calls out orders over her shoulder to the chef, who remembers every nuance of every one. You can call in your own order for pick-up, too, but use a telephone, okay? Little wonder Melanie was a finalist for the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches’ Small Business Person of the Year last month.
They are stars, and the food is stellar.
206 So. Olive Avenue | 561.444.3842
Open 7 am to 2 pm Mon-Sat. www.aioliwpb.com