I have one person to thank for many of my favorite nights in Palm Beach County, and that’s Rodney Mayo. The restaurateur is responsible for so many of my most beloved haunts: Dada and Tryst in Delray, and Howley’s, Lost Weekend, Respectable Street and Feelgoods in West Palm Beach. He also heads up Kapow! and the Dubliner.
So when I heard he was opening a new New York-style restaurant in West Palm Beach I didn’t hesitate to say “I’m there.” I stopped by the restaurant to photograph and write an article for Jupiter Magazine, and while I didn’t get a chance to meet the King of Clematis himself, I was super impressed with the restaurant’s ambience, food and the rest of his staff.
There is one freezer at Hullabaloo, and it is so small that it only fits two things: ice cubes and gelato. What this means for the restaurant is that it is forced to bring in fresh produce and poultry every single day. As a result, every menu item explodes with flavor, from the cocktails with fresh, muddled fruits to the salads with juicy, plump tomatoes to the melt-in-your-mouth scallops.
The cuisine at the restaurant is presented as “craft everything.” Craft cocktails, craft beer and out-of-the-ordinary cuisine like frog legs, marrow bones and rabbit reign here. The menu is fun and super creative, which doesn’t surpise me given Mayo’s mark at trendy, hipster spots like Dada. Each cocktail is named after a legendary musician who met an untimely death in the form of “misadventure.” There’s the Cobain, the Tupac, the Elvis and more.
Hullabaloo’s rustic, hole-in-the-wall vibe is something straight out of New York City. The only real difference is felt when you step outside of the restaurant: instead of bustling streets with honking taxis, you get the quieter, 500 block of Clematis Street. (I was actually able to parallel park right in front of the restaurant the afternoon I went in for my interviews, and I think that says everything.)
The restaurant is dimly lit and covered in music memorabilia. Large, waxy candles line long tables, and an open kitchen and bar area takes up at least a third of the indoor space. Outdoor seating both in front of and behind the restaurant offers a nice summer al fresco dining opportunity.
I was also able to meet with Executive Chef Fritz Cassel, whose talent you might remember from the now-closed Gratify. Cassel is down-to-earth and laid back. He encourages foodies to sit in the back of the restaurant near the open kitchen, because he often offers them free samples of dishes he’s experimenting with. There he is often the subject of guests’ prying questions about menu items, which he is always happy to answer.
For more information on Hullabaloo, read my article in Jupiter Magazine, visit www.sub-culture.org/hullabaloo or best of all, visit it in person at 517 Clematis St., West Palm Beach, FL 33401.