The new Wellington Trace Tavern is now open in the original Wellington Mall. In the kitchen is Executive Chef Jeff Cantor, who brings with him a wealth of culinary experience gathered from every region of the United States. His well-rounded career has cemented a signature, fusion style of cuisine.
–“One of the things that is very important to me is to be original. I don’t want to do what others are doing,” Cantor said. “When you walk into Wellington Trace Tavern, I want you to feel as though, before you even sit down at the table, you’re already going to know that it’s going to be a great meal.”
Wellington Trace Tavern is co-owned by Alex Gerasimov and Tetyana Kuzmina. Cantor was searching for a position that would allow him to continue making his food creations, and after his first meeting with the owners, he knew almost immediately that he would have creative control over the new tavern’s menu items.
“What I plan on bringing to Wellington Trace Tavern, first of all, is food with integrity,” Cantor said. “I don’t do boxed, ready-to-go, canned, whatever-it-might-be type of things. I try to do as much as I can from a fresh state. I try to use local ingredients when we can. We get some of our produce right here from a local farmer, and we always try to use fresh, not frozen, seafood whenever possible. The same thing goes for our other ingredients on the menu.”
Cantor said there will be many signature dishes to be enjoyed on the menu, but he presented one that he believes will certainly cement itself as a must-have item, the Admiral Surf and Turf.
The dish will feature four jumbo shrimp, paired with a daily vegetable. “It will have your choice of potato. However, I recommend one of my signature items, which is called a sweet potato soufflé,” Cantor said. “A lot of people say, ‘Oh, I don’t like sweet potatoes.’ I bring them out a little taste of it, and that’s what they order. It doesn’t taste like a sweet potato out of the skin. This tastes like a true soufflé-style, a little sweeter, entrée side accompaniment than you would typically see somewhere else.”
Don’t forget the turf.
“It’s paired with another one of my signature items, which is a Dr. Pepper, ketchup marinated filet mignon,” Cantor explained. “It’s something that I’ve been serving for years. I picked it up from a chef in South Carolina.”
Keeping true to his originality, Cantor continues to tweak the recipe, but he has a balance for it that can’t be described any better than by the head chef himself.
“I’ve described that dish as yin and yang, and the reason I say [that] is quite simple: it’s complementary opposites with a little bit of each still there,” Cantor said. “You’re going to have that sweet savoriness of the marinated filet mignon, and then you’re going to have the grilled jumbo shrimp, which is something that goes together very well. It’s different than you would find elsewhere.”
Cantor moved to Wellington at the beginning of this year with his wife and daughter, Kathy and Annika. Kathy had a job opportunity in Palm Beach County, while his daughter is a chef in her own right. “It’s kind of a family thing right now,” he said.
Cantor grew up in New Hampshire. Being New England raised, seafood is a must eat. When he is back home, he can’t leave without having a classic feast.
“Being not too far from the coast, fresh seafood was always available, and I’ve come up with a great passion and love for seafood,” Cantor said. “I’m getting clam chowder, and I’m getting right out of the sea, probably two hours ago, lobster that was caught on the boat and parked out back.”
Cantor is happy with the quality of food that has begun to appear and then disappear on patron’s plates at Wellington Trace Tavern.
“We’re consistently putting good food on the tables, and, most importantly, we are doing it in a way that others in the area are not,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll find 15 of the items on our menu any place else.”
While they are there, Cantor visits his guests to make sure they are having the dining experience he envisions for the tavern.
“My motto for the food is ‘great food, great wine, great friends, best of times,’” Cantor said. “I like that to be what people think of after they’ve had a meal here.”
Wellington Trace Tavern is located in the original Wellington Mall at 12794 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 20. The restaurant is open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. most nights. For more information, call (561) 469-1109 or visit www.wttavern.com.