Location: 4645 PGA Boulevard, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418. Just west of the Publix plaza, next to Cantina Laredo. Phone: 561 630-3660. www.iiiforks.com.
III Forks (spoken Three Forks) is an upscale steakhouse chain. Though the word “chain” is somewhat loose when applied to them. They have seven total locations, three in Texas (Houston, Dallas, Austin), three in Florida (PBG, Hallandale, Jacksonville) and Chicago. I would say they are going for quality not quantity at this point. Maria and I had been to III Forks once before, the one in Hallandale just outside of Gulfstream Park. We went with friends after a day at the races, and had a wonderful filet mignon and sea bass (our “go to” surf and turf). The company and the food were superb, but Maria was under the weather that night and we had to leave early. Last night we were trying to think of something to do. While perusing through the Palm Beach Post, I came across a mention of a wine tasting at III Forks for $15 per person, appetizers included. A night out at Forks for peanuts? Very appealing. Proprietor/Head Chef Tommy Nevill directed the proceedings himself, pouring our wines while educating us along the way with the history of each. Dapper and nattily clad in a tuxedo, Tommy along with our bartender Christina, couldn’t have made us feel more comfortable.
We’ve enjoyed both locales that we’ve visited. At the Hallandale venue they had a young woman, with quite a good voice, crooning soft love songs. I was so disappointed when my head cold caught up with me during dinner. The setting is what you’d come to expect from a steakhouse, dark and sleek with bright white linens and ambient light. We sat at the gorgeous inside bar while dining on the hors d’oeuvres. Nevill was a gracious host and as he described each wine to us you could feel the passion for his craft emanating from him. Our first wine was a sparkling Italian Prosecco, which was a bit on the dry side for my palette and honestly forgettable. Next he served us two Pinot Grigio’s, side by side for a better comparison, along with our first snacks. A mini caprese of fresh mozzarella wrapped around basil and cherry tomato, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic. Unfortunately that bite was overshadowed by the highlight of the hors d’oeuvres, IMO, a bite sized chicken parmigiana with a healthy bite of chicken and a generous slathering of marinara sauce. It was absolutely delicious and was well paired with our favorite of the two Pinot Grigios, a sweeter and fruitier take called Rose’N’Blum. This white and our first red, which soon followed were the big winners out of the wines for me. The red was a blend of mostly Zinfandel with some Cab and a few other type of grapes. I not only loved the taste of this blend, but we also liked the bottle, which featured what looked like a mad scientist donning goggles and a tattered suit. Fitting depiction considering the name, Stark Raving.
I prefer the Gardens Forks. The bar is elegant and the atmosphere is more intimate. Hallandale is okay too, but it has a mall feel. The food at each is top shelf however. A few suggestions, beyond the aforementioned filet and sea bass, from my previous visits would be: bacon wrapped scallops, the wedge salad and the rack of lamb for my fellow carnivores. To die for! In addition, the wine selection is vast and varied, and Tommy Nevill has his finger on the pulse of everything current. Subsequently, your palette should have no problem finding something to make it sing. One final note; I’m generally a white wine guy, but during our tasting the red blend by Stark Raving was my favorite. I would take the description of the bottle’s label a step further. I thought the guy looked like Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes. Yet Downey also plays Tony Stark/Iron Man. Stark Raving?! Those clever devils. III Forks will not disappoint you, I can’t wait for our next visit!
This was an inexpensive, educational and entertaining night out. I love finding new and exciting things to do…but I have to admit it really is Ross’ special gift. He scours the paper and unburies these hidden gems. And please don’t be intimidated by your local ‘wine tasting’ – these events are for everyone not just for connoisseurs. You don’t have to write down notes, you don’t have to say if the wine has a good ‘nose’ or drop other fancy terms. You just have to go with an open mind and enjoy yourself.
Ross’ Rating: 4.5 Wine Glasses out of 5.
Maria’s Rating: 4 Wine Glasses.