The delicious smell of smoked rosemary and grilled tenderloin wafts in the air, greeting you even before you arrive at the Hilton West Palm Beach poolside where tables get set up with flowers and candles for a spectacular luxe dining under the stars. A large multi-level grill rack holds wood on the bottom, vegetables on the middle grill, while choice cuts of beef hang wrapped in herbs.
A sparkling glass of prosecco is handed to you, while the hotel’s Executive Chef Guillermo Eleicegui – or Chef G for short – and the wine sommelier and pastry chef tend to the grilling and plating while a flamenco guitarist plays in a cabana under the shining stars above swaying palms.
This is the divine setting for a new monthly series at the Hilton West Palm Beach, called Parrilla con Amigos, “Grilling with Friends.” Bring your appetite as the event features 7 courses of specialty grilled dishes, live music, and an interactive dining experience with Chef G and guest chefs.
A curated wine pairing adds to the night, with each tasting explained on how it pairs with the food. The sommelier, Huak, uses such vivid words as “viscosity” and “peachy” to describe the wines.
A printed menu lets you see the feast that lies ahead—meals will rotate with each monthly dinner. Something is grilled or smoked in every course, but the fun is to see the creativity Chef G and his team come up with.
The inaugural event took place on a sultry hot August night and the first course from Chef G was a standout – smoked tomato and watermelon gazpacho topped with feta cheese crumbles, a perfect way to start a summer meal, the cool musky smoke taste was a surprising match to the sweet juicy watermelon. Served in a small ceramic cup, I could have devoured several more bowls of this.
Billed as a starter from Chef Jose Lahoz, the next course could have been a whole meal as shredded short ribs were served on a generous hunk of grilled bone marrow, topped with pickled beet, red onions, and smoky chimichurri. Served with buttered grilled bread, it was eaten as a sandwich, filling and savory.
Vegetables are a wonder when grilled, especially served in an imaginative way. Smoked beets were sliced into quarters and served atop a creamy burrata with Yuru honey and crispy rice sprinkles. As a sweet side dish, it hit all the right notes as Chef G intended.
Next up was a dish I have reservations about – pork belly. While I am a huge fan of burnt bacon, I just can’t seem to get into cubed chunks of pork fat no matter how it’s dressed up. These little piggies were served on a skewer with a spicy bourbon glaze and rosemary sprigs that had been lit on fire, then allowed to smoke. I just couldn’t get into it, but my starving artist dining companion gladly wolfed down his portion and mine. It smelled wonderful though.
With four courses in, it was main entrée time. This may have been my favorite of the night – a cilantro & achiote grilled bronzini fish with charred scallions served over a Thai coconut curry with smoked pineapple. Flaky and moist, the fish was delicious and the fruited curry was exotic and creamy and tart. The unexpected mix of flavors made this a real standout thanks to Chef Samuel Ramos.
Another main entrée was served – organic beef tenderloin with truffle potato mash, baby vegetables, and chimichurri. The beef was cooked to medium-rare perfection, we had been watching it hanging all night on the upper grill to smoke before grilling. The colorful plate was a whirl of red and white and green and orange.
Is there room for dessert after six courses?? When it’s smoked cherries with lemon curd and anise whipped cream there is. If you’ve never had smoked cherries, and I hadn’t, you are missing out. Smoking brings out the extreme tartness of this little ruby jewel, the whole dish was just sublime, thank you Chef Serena Sanchez, more of this, please.
This is a spectacular dining experience, made even better by the chefs talking before each course, explaining the process and creativity behind it. They hope to expand the limited seating, but the intimacy of just 25 diners at three long tables around the grill station felt just right.
Executive Chef Guillermo P. Eleicegui has a culinary portfolio with a wide breadth of knowledge in the fine dining industry and experiences in various countries worldwide. Chef Guillermo has embraced unique opportunities in the industry and his passion for cooking “is surrounded by memories of fresh vegetables, homemade cheeses, and large family dinners.”
Upcoming dates for Grilling with Friends are September 29, October 20, November 17, December 8 at 6 p.m. Advance reservations are highly recommended as they are sure to sell out. Events will continue, rain or shine.
For information on upcoming dates and tickets, visit this link.
Grilling with Friends: Dining under the stars with Chef Eleicegui