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Pinon Grill – Only The Strong (Appetites) Survive.

Pinon Grill – Only The Strong (Appetites) Survive.

Food & People

That title probably confused the hell out of you. But it worked to get you here, didn’t it? Let me explain. Pinon Grill, located at the Town Center Mall in Boca Raton, is named after the Pinon Tree, a tree that represents amongst other things, strength and survival. And trust me, when you eat with me, you need both. The strength to get through an amount of dishes fit for an entire wedding party, and survival, because sometimes food is so good that you have to get all Hunger Games over the last bite. Prepare your bows and arrows – the food at Pinon Grill is worth risking life and limb for.

It would be wrong of me not to mention the super funky decor inside the restaurant, which gives it a cool southwest, tribal vibe, ya know, without sticking us in mud huts. These ancient spirits look ready for battle, and so was I.

If you read this blog enough, you know that I can’t refuse a drink with cucumber in it, so The Ultimate Refresher was right up my alley. Cucumber-infused Tito’s vodka, fresh-muddled watermelon, agave nectar, and fresh sour mix served straight up in a martini glass was exactly what I needed to get in to beast mode. The name says it all – this drink goes down so smoothly, if you’re not careful, it will be gone within seconds.

I’m not one to typically go crazy over meatballs, but this Panko-Crusted Eggplant Meatball served with homemade marinara, basil and parmesan had my stomach doing a happy dance. Pinon isn’t an Italian restaurant, but with the authenticity of this meatball, you could have fooled me!

One of the more unique dishes on their menu is the Crispy Crab Fritters, made with crab, shrimp, risotto, lobster ginger sauce, and garnished with corn salsa. The presentation was completely different than what I expected, but the fact that it looked like shoestring fries had me diving right in. And yes, despite what it looks like, there IS meat under there, and delicious meat at that! But for me, the best component of this dish is the lobster ginger sauce, which I literally want to dip everything into, including non-edible items like my remote control, toaster, and cat. Bon appetite.

But my favorite of the three appetizers was definitely the Kung Pao Calamari. These days, I won’t even order calamari if it’s just served with marinara. Boring! My calamari needs to bring the flair, and this dish definitely did. Topped with Kung Pao sauce, peanuts, cilantro and scallions, it made for an interesting bite that had me wanting more, and more, and more. This is definitely one that you would not survive sharing with me – even if you were my own mother, I’d shank you for the last few bites.

Ultimate Survivor rule: Always order a second drink. There’s something to be said about drunken munchies. To go along with my cucumber kick, I went right on to the Jalapeño Margarita, made with Jalapeño & Cucumber-infused Casamigos tequila, Grand Marnier, muddled mango, and fresh-squeezed sour mix. Warning: this does have a kick to it! But the refreshing cucumber and sweet mango balance it out, so if you like a little bit of heat with your tequila, this is a surefire win.

On to the entrees. The Pecan-Crusted Trout came highly recommended, and it was certainly one of the dishes that jumped out at me upon looking at the menu. The fish is a Rainbow Trout coated in a pecan crust and sautéed, finished with a currant-citrus  chardonnay sauce and served with sautéed green beans. There is so much sweet versus salty going on in this dish, and it all comes together to create a flavorful bite that reminds you why you have taste buds in the first place. Even the green beans, which is typically something that excites me as much as a Presidential debate, are a winner in this dish due to the garlic-butter-cheesy finish.

And can we talk about this size of this thing?? To some of you this might be a 3-4 person dish, but I believe anything can be single-serving if you believe in yourself.

One of the newer menu items is this Cajun Pasta with shrimp, chicken and andouille sausage, served in a creamy Cajun sauce and topped with slices of parmesan. I used to bartend at a bar on Fort Lauderdale Beach that shall go unnamed and I hated every single thing about it – the drunk, sunburned tacky tourists that forgot to tip, the trashy late night crowd who couldn’t afford to tip, and the worst, the ones who would pretend to not speak English so they wouldn’t have to tip. But I stuck around for one reason – the discounted Cajun fare. Give me that food, and blacken every damn kind of protein or sauce that you can. That bar set the expectation for Cajun food, and this pasta did not disappoint. The sauce was creamy enough to be indulgent, but not too rich to the point of being overdone. The jambalaya of meats was so tasty, with my favorite being the andouille sausage.

There was one course left to navigate through: dessert. As soon as my eyes landed on the description of the White Chocolate Bread Pudding, I was glued. A blend of brioche bread, white chocolate and vanilla custard, baked and topped with brown sugar served with mixed berry compote and whipped cream. Um, jackpot. And WOW was it incredible. I’m sorry, but even if Ryan Gosling himself tried to take a bit of this, I’d have to kill him. This is a dish worth going to jail for. In fact, I’d probably even request it as my last meal.

***I received complimentary noms in exchange for this post, however, you cannot bribe me with food, so all opinions are my own.


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