La Ferme: New Chef and Ownership

Since it opened La Ferme (originally Bistro Gastronomie) has been one of our favorite restaurants in West Boca. From a business perspective it has been a bumpy ride. The original owners under Bistro Gastronomie sold to the Shapiros who renamed it La Ferme. They originally stuck with Chef Walden but later switched to one new chef and maybe another. It’s our understanding the Shapiros did a good job of building up the business and this made it an attractive purchase for the new owner, Alan Luckner.
farid-oualidiFarid Oualidi is the new chef. He has been working there for about a year under the previous chef. Here’s an interview with him from back in 2009.
With the latest changes in mind they invited us to visit. Disclosure: Our meal was free.
La Ferme is on the north side of Yamato between 441 and Lyons Road, in the same plaza as Doris Market.

There is a regular menu which is expensive – but worth it, and there is also a “Dining to Dusk” menu. That’s available to 7 pm on most days but only until 6 pm on Friday and Saturday. On that deal you get three courses for $32, though some items may increase that price.
The interior has not changed since our last review.
As usual we enjoyed our meal. We started with the Gougeres appetizer, pieces of bread with Gruyère cheese in the middle, almost like a pastry. It came with so much we didn’t come close to finishing it.
They also brought us out their regular bread basket. We normally don’t mention that but the raisin bread that was included is delicious. The other bread in the basket might have been sourdough.
We also had a Caesar Salad, which was very good. Note that it came with some anchovy on top. If you don’t like that be sure to let them know when you order.
One of the best items we had was the Vichysoisse, a cold soup. It was brilliant. As I ate it I noticed both the creamy texture and hints of various flavors, all going well together. When you order off the regular menu it is topped with some smoked salmon that was very high quality. As we understand it that is not included if you order it off the Dining to Dusk menu.
It’s worth mentioning that the service was excellent. There were multiple staff members coming to our table, refilling water glasses, straightening napkins if someone left the table, clearing plates (and very politely), etc. We were provided fresh silverware for every course. We never had to ask for anything.
We had two entrees. The short ribs is a great dish. The meat is so tender you don’t need a knife. It’s also beautiful to look at:
The filet mignon was wonderful. There was a choice of three sauces and we went with a “spicy” peppercorn. It wasn’t so spicy as to need a warning and it was a great sauce. If there was one weakness that night it was how the steak was cooked. We ordered it medium rare and it was somewhere between medium and medium well. Regardless, it was delicious. I ordered a glass of a French Pinot Noir with the meal and it paired perfectly with the steak.
The filet comes with fries. They’re good but we’d like to see other options for sides with a $42 entree.
We also tried a few desserts. First up was the apple tart with vanilla ice cream. We’ve had this one before and still like it.

Apple Tart with ice cream
Apple Tart with ice cream

Next was the Mousse Cake, and we loved it. The berries it came with were fresh and juicy.
Mousse Cake
Mousse Cake

Last was the Double Chocolate Fudge which came with chocolate “barts” on the side. This was also very good.
Double Chocolate Fudge with chocolate "barts"
Double Chocolate Fudge with chocolate “barts”

Overall La Ferme is still one of our favorite restaurants in West Boca. If you’re going out for a special dinner and you’re ready to spend for it, you really can’t do better anywhere nearby. Their only real competition at this level are Armadillo Cafe on Glades and Butcher Block Grill on Powerline, but their menus are so different that it’s hard to compare them.

Japango or No Go? Two Bad Inspections

Japango in Boca Raton; image by Google.
Japango in Boca Raton; image by Google.

Japango in Regency Court (northwest corner of Yamato and Jog) had the worst numbers in our latest restaurant inspection report for West Boca. In early July they had 30 total violations, only 5 weeks after a previous inspection with 27 total violations. Usually we see places clean up their act after a bad inspection but that didn’t happen here.
The four high priority violations on the late May inspection were:

  • Food stored in ice used for drinks. See stop sale. Lemon wedges for drinks
  • Live, small flying insects in kitchen, food preparation area, or food storage area.
  • Raw animal food stored over ready-to-eat food in reach-in cooler. Raw shelled eggs over ready to eat **Corrected On-Site**
  • Raw animal foods not properly separated from one another based upon minimum required cooking temperature in walk-in cooler. Raw chicken above raw beef and sea food

The more recent July 2nd inspection also had four marked high priority:

  • Nonexempt fish offered raw or undercooked has not undergone proper parasite destruction. Fish must be fully cooked or discarded. … Fresh Scottish Salmon is being used for sushi.
  • Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food identified in the written procedure as a food held using time as a public health control has no time marking and the time removed from temperature control cannot be determined. See stop sale. … Sushi rice no time control
  • Raw animal food stored over ready-to-eat food. … Cook Line Undercounter Cooler, raw she’ll eggs over ready to eat uncovered sauces. **Corrected On-Site**
  • Vacuum breaker missing at hose bibb or on fitting/splitter added to hose bibb. … Rear exterior of building AND at interior mop sink.

Incidentally we’ve never understood why a vacuum breaker is a high priority violation, while other violations rated “intermediate” seem more disturbing, such as these:

Accumulation of black/green mold-like substance in the interior of the ice machine.
Certified Food Manager or person in charge lacks knowledge of foodborne illnesses and symptoms of illness that would prevent an employee from working with food, clean equipment and utensils, and single-service items.

But now that we looked it up, we understand why a vacuum breaker might be important:

[A vacuum breaker] prevent[s] potentially contaminated water from flowing back up a hose, faucet, pre-rinse, or toilet fixture and into the potable water system in your restaurant. Waste and sewage water is rich with microorganisms that can quickly infect an entire water supply, and that’s why these plumbing valves like this brass ball valve that allow for the complete shut off of flow, are so important.

Sandalfoot Bagel; image by Google
Sandalfoot Bagel; image by Google

Next worst in this report goes to Sandalfoot Bagel with 27 violations on July 7th. The high priority violations didn’t look so good:

  • Employee failed to wash hands before changing gloves and/or putting on gloves to work with food. … Cook changed gloves multiple times, all without hand washing. **Repeat Violation** **Repeat Violation** **Repeat Violation** **Repeat Violation** **Warning**
  • No proof of parasite destruction or aquaculture documentation for cold smoked salmon served raw or undercooked. Fish must be fully cooked or discarded. … **Repeat Violation** **Warning**
  • Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit. … REACH IN COOLER… (3 Door Jordan) soup 48° pooled eggs 50° corned beef hash 54° AMBIENT TEMPERATURE 48° **Repeat Violation** **Warning**

Two others with 20 or more violations were:
China Spring on 441 (25 violations including 4 high priority)
Boca Pita Express on Beracasa Way (20 violations with 1 high priority)
Between 10 and 17 violations:
On/Near Palmetto Park
New Golden China Inc
Sushi Yama Japanese Restaurant
Sal’s Italian Restaurant
Hong Kong Palace
Mama’s NY Pizza Inc
China Wok
Pizza Thick And Thin
On/Near Glades
Brooklyn Boys Pizza
Einstein Bros Bagel #845
Duffy’s Sports Grill
China Ming
Tempura House
On the positive side the licensing inspection for the new Chen’s Yokohama (replacing Yokohama Sushi) in Boca Lyons Plaza was perfect. Other perfect inspections included Yogurt Zone in Somerset Shoppes, Hurricane Grill in Mission Bay, and Moon’s Tavern in Boca Greens. Moon’s also had a perfect inspection last year.
Near-perfect inspections included Vinny’s All Day Cafe, Outback Steakhouse and La Ferme.
Our spreadsheet for this report is below:
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Happy Hour and More at La Ferme

We have an update on La Ferme, the new high end restaurant on Yamato in the plaza with Doris Market. Along with their regular menu, they’ve announced some Happy Hour specials that are available for a limited time.
Six nights per week from 5-7 at the bar they will have two-for-one house wine and house cocktails. Friday is the exception. There are two other specials: Half-price mussels all night on Sunday and half-price on wine bottles under $75 on Mondays.
Mussels are a specialty of the new owners. The Shapiros run the Flex Mussels restaurants in New York City, which is prominent enough to have been featured in the New York Times back in 2009. That means they know how to source top quality shellfish, and how to pair wines with them.
We covered La Ferme’s media dinner a month ago, and we included our own photos in that article.
La Ferme is open for dinner seven days a week starting at 5 pm. Sunday through Thursday they’re open until 10 pm, with an extra hour (until 11) on Friday and Saturday. The restaurant is on the north side of Yamato at Lakeridge (between 441 and Lyons):

The restaurant sent us some of their own photos, which we cropped so they’d fit better on our website:
Also, above we mentioned Happy Hour for house cocktails. Here’s that menu:
This is a sponsored article. The writing is all ours and the restaurant had minimal input (other than providing photos). We really do think La Ferme is the best restaurant in West Boca.

La Ferme Opens October 4th with Chef Belleme

Chef John Belleme
Chef John Belleme

We previously reported that Bistro Gastronomie will reopen as La Ferme. They now have a firm opening date of Saturday, October 4th.
Chef William Walden has left and we wish him all the best. In his place the new owners have brought in Chef John Belleme, who was most recently at the former Stephane’s on the north side of Glades near Military Trail (the space is currently Madison’s restaurant).

The restaurant features modern Mediterranean cuisine in a fun, upbeat and exciting setting. The menu at La Ferme is beautifully executed by celebrated Executive Chef John Belleme, voted the Best Chef in Palm Beach County three years in a row by the readers of City Link and the New Times magazines. He was also featured in Esquire magazine by John Mariani as a chef to keep your eye on.

Here’s Chef Belleme a few years ago on Honey Garlic Prawns from when he was at Umi:

There will be significant changes to the menu:

The menu will adjust with seasons but items will include: Grilled Point Judith Calamari with Heirloom Tomato, Lemon Caper Crudo; Kale Caesar with Country Croutons, Parmesan and Boquerón; Steak Tartare with Quail Egg and Green Peppercorn Vinaigrette; Forever Braised Short Rib Bourguignon with Lardoons, Mushrooms and a Red Wine Reduction; Poulet de St Tropez Roasted Organic Chicken with Roasted Vegetables, Grapes, Olives, Crushed Potatoes in Lemon Thyme Pan Sauce; and Cedar Plank Organic Black Pearl Salmon with Horseradish Crust, Mustard Oil and Greens.

It’s also our impression that it will be much less expensive. Bistro Gastronomie was hard to get out of for less than $100 per person, though we thought it was well worth it.


Tangine Lamb
Tangine Lamb

We’re looking forward to trying the new approach. La Ferme is located in Yamato Village Center, on the north side of Yamato between 441 and Lyons. It’s the plaza with Doris Market.

La Ferme is open daily for dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and will feature happy hour specials, Monday – Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. (bar only). [Make] reservations by phone or through OpenTable. For more info call 561.430.3731.

The restaurant’s website – – does not appear to be ready yet but we expect it will be up and running soon.