The Hibiscus Club at Boca West Country Club is a pinnacle of culinary excellence. Their food is divine, presentations are extraordinary and waitstaff are one of a kind. Meals here are what my sisters and I dream about in the weeks leading up to our arrival in Boca Raton, Florida to visit our grandparents.
Their seafood night is one of the favored meals, featured on Friday evenings. Only those of a certain age are allowed to attend seafood night, due to the misbehavior of a young, culinary savvy little girl and her friend years ago… but lets not get into that.
We begin the meal in the lounge area of the club, waiting for the first seating at 6pm. It’s the same ritual, with me snacking on Brie and crackers, while Murray (my grandpa) tells me to save room for dinner. I bring along my purse, since I will always be carded attempting to order a glass of Cabernet. The young server then glances awkwardly at me stating that ‘I’m older then him but don’t look it.’ My grandparents, the most happily married and still in love couple I have ever seen, split a Cosmopolitan while we wait. My sisters munch on “clearly homemade hummus” until our buzzer dances on the table with bright red lights flashing, telling us, it’s time.
We walk through the large open doors into the dining room, which can only be described as a grand ballroom of sorts. It feels like a gigantic, elegant Bar Mitzvah or wedding, with circular tables of different sizes scattered throughout the room. The tables surround the gigantic, elegant displays of food in the middle. Each table has a light blue table cloth with lighter swirls of color, fitting into the nautical feel. A photographer comes around as we take an awkward table picture, further convincing me, I’m the best Bar Mitzvah ever and didn’t even need to sit through a long service.
My sisters and I take a lap around three gigantic displays, each with unique foods and features trying to construct a proper game plan.
The second I come across a large raw bar display with lovely, glistening oysters and clams sitting on a bed of ice, I know how to begin. I picked up a plate and fill my plate generously with oysters and clams, placing a few slices of lemon on the side. On my way back to the table, I grabbed a martini glass filled with lobster salad.
I sat down, thrilled with my decisions for round 1. I squeezed a bit of lemon juice onto each of the oysters and clams. While I’m normally a slurper, I felt that a mini fork was necessary in this type of environment.
The oysters and clams were delicious and fresh. Knowing the distance from here to the ocean, you can taste the briny flavor, which stand out with each bite. There’s something elegant and absolutely perfect about a fresh oyster or clam only seasoned by a little squeeze of acidity from a lemon slice. I could eat oysters all day every day, if I could afford it.
Next, I dug into my other side dish of Lobster Salad, which topped my list of favorite dishes from the meal.
The freshness of the lobster, mixed with a small drizzle of flavored mayonnaise, sesame seeds and a bit of fish roe, created the most divine seafood salad. Gigantic chunks allowed for me to pick up the pieces with my fork as they held onto each of the other components. I could have easily eaten container after container of this, and even tried to strategize ways to hide glasses into my purse (it failed epically). I would love to attempt to recreate this dish at home, but I have a feeling it won’t taste remotely as good. But this could really impress at a dinner party.
For the next round, I had my eye set on the gigantic spreads of King Crab Legs and Shrimp Cocktail.
It was definitely time to go big.
Simply cooked and prepared, the shrimp and crabs were served at their finest. The kitchen breaks up the crab legs, preventing us for having to hammer away at the tough shells (although it’s pretty fun). I happily ate each piece of shrimp, dipping into the cocktail sauce and squeezing bits of lemon on top. For the crabs, I love to get all of the meat out of the shell, forming a large pile. Then I mix the meat with cocktail sauce and a bit of lemon juice, creating a little concoction of my own. The flavors burst with the sweet, spicy subtly of the cocktail sauce, mixed with the creamy, light crab meat, followed by the wonderful bright acidity of the lemon juice. I was in seafood heaven.
But crabs, shrimp, oysters, clams and lobster salad were not enough. I needed to go for the holy grail of seafood. A whole lobster.
I walked over to the station where one of the cooks served the lobster. With pure strength and much experience, he broke down the crustacean with such ease. He carefully placed the coveted pieces of tail and claw meat onto my plate. As he went to toss away the body, I quickly asked if I could have that as well. He looked at me with confusion. I am totally weird when it comes to lobster and absolutely love the guts. Yes, you read that correctly. The guts. The green, slimey deliciousness that coats the inside of the body. Whenever we eat lobster at home, my family knows to give me the bodies so I can devour my favorite part.
Perfectly cooked, sweet, delicious lobster. Simply prepared, allowing for the natural flavors to stand on its own, which of course, it does. That’s the beauty of freshly cooked lobster.
My dad came back to the table shortly after with “the best, prettiest plate ever.” He declared it was completely blog worthy, so of course, needs to be included.
Solid plate. With his inspiration, I went back for a bite of the creamed spinach. I loved the addition of asiago cheese to the dish, adding a layer of salty creaminess to an already decadent dish. Plus, I got to eat a few more of his lobster guts, since he asked for the body as well.
After sitting back and digesting as much of the seafood as possible, we all made our way to the gigantic dessert display.
The photo above maybe reflects 1/4 of the entire long, never-ending array of sweets. From homemade gelato with every topping you could imagine, to cookies, cakes, puddings and more, it was hard to realize where to start. Ultimately, I was drawn to the little tartlets, strawberries and mini creme brulee. This way I could have a taste of everything I loved.
A sweet way to end an absolutely divine and decadent meal. The creamy chocolate mousse with my beloved, tart raspberries curbed my chocolate craving. The sweet and tart key lime pies are a favorite when in Florida, since we are not so far away from the Keys where these wonderful limes grow. Of course chocolate covered strawberries are a fan favorite and these were of the highest quality. Large, juicy strawberries dripped down my hands as I tried to eat them in a few messy, but delicious and sweet bites. Finally, the creme brulee, which was sweet and silky, with the wonderful crust and raspberries hidden inside.
I left the Hibiscus Club completely full, happy and satisfied, realizing no seafood meal would match this until my next trip back to Florida. So many things went untasted, since I couldn’t handle any more food. Steamers, Cod, Herring Salad, beautiful Lox, and so much more. I think I hit all of the necessary stations, eating my fill of delicious seafood. I can’t wait for my next trip back.
Hibiscus Club – Boca West Country Club – Boca Raton, FL