I recently visited Market 17 and I knew right away that this was going to be a great experience. Opened in 2010 by sibling restaurateurs Kirsta and Aaron Grauberger,Market 17 promises to use fresh and organic ingredients. The food and wine menu looked exciting and screamed of modern farm-to-table. As I sat down, I thought, this is can’t miss for a great dining experience. I was wrong, it was an amazing dining experience.
The kitchen is run by Lauren DeShields, having taken over from opening chef Daniel Ramos just under 2 years ago. Raised in Boca Raton, while she was still a student at Johnson and Wales University she cooked alongside Dean James Max at 3030 Ocean in Ft. Lauderdale. After graduating, DeShields headed to San Francisco, where she worked at Michelin two-starred Saison and alongside owner-chef Michael Mina.
DeShield is only 27 years old, but she presents her food with the confidence of a seasoned, accomplished chef. While younger chefs more often than not rely on overpowering flavors, DeShield is a master of attenuating inherent cooking with great ingredients. Dish after dish displays peak flavor.
My starter of pork belly with creamy polenta and arugula/mint salad on the side was excellent, with the pork being crispy and not too fatty. It paired perfectly with a 2008 NZ Pinot Noir from Pegasus Bay. The sweet potato and hazelnut gnocchi with mustard greens, Parmesan nage and red-pepper sausage was both peppery and nutty, amazing flavor. I also had a perfectly medium rare antelope, sliced, with a Bulgar wheat pilaf, some roasted broccoli, wilted kale, and a semisweet chocolate-inflected demi-glace that was just perfect with the meat. The dish was a real winner!
The Graubergers, both sommeliers, will recommend something from their outstanding 520-bottle list. Its one of the best wine lists in South Florida.
DeShields assistant, Mike Cabrera, is mostly in charge of the house-made charcuterie (three for $15; five for $20; seven for $32), which includes chicken-liver mousse, curedlardo, several kinds of salami, as well as Andouille, and chorizo.
Choosing which entrees to order can be difficult, and DeShields’ menu changes frequently. But the menu offers entrees in regular and petite, so tables can create their own small-plate meals by ordering several petites. The smaller portions usually include around 4 ounces of protein, which is enough for smaller appetites.
Grilled Florida Grouper is served with roasted sunchokes, green onion, bok choy, pickled peppers, smoked tomato aioli and dried olives. This dish is fresh, light, and mouth-wateringly delicious.
Grilled grass-fed beef tenderloin is served with a red-wine demi-glace along with mashed potatoes, sauteed kale, and roasted-cauliflower bagna cauda. These are all familiar ingredients made anew.
The Market Harvest is a combination of vegetable-based menu items. One night, it was roasted-red-beet risotto, baby arugula and fresh-herb-tips salad, shaved fennel and orangegastrique.
Desserts continue with the ingredient-based freshness from the savory side of the menu indishes such as a fruity blackberry crostata. The chocolate pudding duo is a heavenlycombination of dark-chocolate pudding and chocolate-and-spicy-red-pepper whipped cream.
Service is consistently excellent. The Graubergers say hire people who are genuinely nice people first and foremost. Our server this night was among the best waiters Ive had in years. The dining room is contemporary but very comfortable.
South Floridians support great food and service and Market 17 has been so successful that the Graubergers are working on a second concept. Theyre open to a location in Broward, Palm Beach or Miami-Dade. Stay tuned.
I give this restaurant 4 napkins out of 5.
850 SE 17th St., Fort Lauderdale
Hours: Sunday Thursday:: 5:30pm to 10:00 pm
Friday & Saturday: :5:30pm-10:30pm