Rex Baron Opens, brings new ‘Survivors Kitchen’ to Boca Town Center
Cutting-edge “Survivors Kitchen” and VRex Lounge brings “the Art of Food & Survival” to Boca
By Kenny Spahn
After many months of eager anticipation and unexpected delays, the new Rex Baron has (finally!) opened in the Boca Town Center Mall. But take a peek inside and you’ll understand – this was worth the wait. Rex Baron is not just another cookie-cutter chain restaurant, it’s an entirely different experience. Michael Norris, who heads up the Rex Gryphon Group (the creative geniuses of this ‘disruptor concept’) describes Rex Baron as “a bold experience that goes where no restaurant has gone before, with a blow-your-mind interactive, multi-sensory experiential restaurant, bar, and hi-tech Virtual Reality lounge.” (REX, by the way, stands for “Restaurant, Entertainment, Xperience”).
Enter the capacious 8,500 square-foot venue, and you’re suddenly immersed into a whole new reality – a mad compilation of cutting-edge restaurant, hip bar, movie set, futuristic museum, VR lounge, and lively action where assorted bad-asses from across the post-apocalyptic galaxy come to refresh and socialize (you might expect Han Solo or Boba Fett to show up!). Rex Baron is “an avant-garde post-apocalyptic themed restaurant,” add Norris, “where food, culture, community, interactive tech and art thrive” notes Mr. Norris. The “Vigilante Post” concept appears more like a restaurant set within a Mad Max movie. The main stars of the Rex Baron “ReStoryä” (restaurant story”) are Rex Baron, a post-apocalyptic reluctant leader, and his crew of 18 “Vigilantes,” who all play a major role in the New World. Each character has their own individual identity, name (Rex Baron, Farmer Yamato, Roughneck, Drifter, etc.), background story, specialty skills, weaponry, and one-of-a-kind, custom-made outfits.
The menu, described as “inspired by Mother Nature and the human instinct of eating well and spoiling palates” is intriguing and befittingly creative – an artful blend of classic American comfort food, popular consumer trends, and cutting-edge innovation. “Rex Baron’s Modern American cuisine is based on classic world techniques with new and old world flavors,” explains Culinary Director Ralph Fernandez, “we focus on high-quality locally-sourced ingredients, including fresh vegetables from South Florida farms, free-range poultry, the highest grade of organic meats, and spice blends from nearby neighborhood Italian markets.”
General Manager Joe Messina steers the massive ship, and his crew of servers all seemed to be very courteous, eager to please, and obviously well-trained during my initial visit to the pre-opening event. Executive Chef Mike (“MJ”) Smith dons the top toque at Rex Baron’s “Survivor’s Kitchen,” creating unique signature dishes along with kicked-up versions of familiar favorites. Look for my full restaurant review coming soon, but here’s a quick preview of the menu highlights:
The star of the show is the “Survivor’s Menu,” a unique interactive tableside cooking at the ‘hottest tables in town.’ Here’s your chance to play chef and cook your own meal tableside on a 600-million-year-old Pink Himalayan Salt Block, or a Black Lava Rock, heated to a blazing 650°C. An in-house butcher delivers the already prepped & cut high quality meat, fish, seafood, and/or vegetables of your choice, along with an assortment of rubs, seasonings, and sauces, and then gives you some quick tips on how to best cook your meal to your liking. Protein options include six kinds of steak (including a whopping 24-ounce Vigilante Ribeye, and a Wagyu Strip), Fish & Shellfish (Salmon, Tuna, Swordfish, Scallops), and a half-pound Barbarian Burger. You can also go meatless, with the Forager’s Table, featuring a Vegan Burger or Vegan Board, loaded with assorted wild mushrooms, asparagus, and other veggies – which I would personally chose as an appetizer to share, and/or side dish with any entrée!.
In addition to being a cool experience, the tableside cooking delivers Rex Baron’s focus on “Cooking Healthy in the New World” to your fork. In fact, the Pink Himalayan Salt (PHS) block alone brings health benefits, with more than 80 trace minerals and other elements, while adding a much more complex flavor. (Technically speaking, PHS-cooked foods help to balance a body’s pH, stabilize hydration levels, and improve digestion. Due to the crystalline structure of the PHS, heat spreads evenly through the entire block, so food prepared on the block will cook at the same pace regardless of whether it is in the exact center, in a corner or anywhere in between). Cooking on a Black Lava Rock likewise delivers health benefits, in addition to flavor enhancement: “The taste is considerably different from normal grilling as the superheated rock (650°C) sears in the natural juices as it cooks, giving it a unique flavor. Meals stay moist and juicy as the natural flavors are locked in.”
But if you prefer a more passive meal, don’t fret — the tableside cooking is just one option. The full menu offers a wide array of choice, with a general emphasis on healthy cuisine and locally sourced ingredients, including many vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. Highlights include Starters (including Tuna Poke, Fried Green Tomatoes, Mushroom Truffle Flatbread, Cauliflower Bites); Salads (Ancient Grain, Burrata Caprese, Chopped Kale); Sandwiches (lunch only), like the Sliced Prime Rib with caramelized onions, Vermont Cheddar and au jus (Yum!), Grilled Chicken on Sourdough, and the vegan Way Beyond Burger; Chef Selections span the culinary gamut — from Grilled Swordfish, Prime Rib Melt, and Laporte Pan Seared Scallops, to Southwestern Rigatoni (with grilled shrimp and smoked gouda), Wild Mushroom Cavatappi, and a substantial half-pound Prime beef Rex Baron Burger; and Sides (like Wild Mushroom Farro, Tri-Color Roasted Carrots, Crispy Smashed Potato, and Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese); plus some killer Desserts. The menu also notes allergens on each dish – yet another nice touch.
As mentioned above, look for my upcoming full review with more details and comments about the food, service, and drinks.
Speaking of drinks, the cool indoor-outdoor Survivors Bar is another chapter of the Rex Baron story. Under the guidance of Beverage Director Igor Colina, the bartenders shake up some inventive specialty cocktails, with equally creative names. The Flame Thrower, for instance, features mango-pineapple vodka with, Cointreau, lime, pineapple juice, mint, and a flaming lime burst; while the Mad Mehmet stars Woodford Reserve bourbon, amaretto, and cinnamon syrup. Other specialties include the Vigilante with Death’s Door gin, Campari, lemon juice, and real passion fruit purée, Gryphon (a margarita-like tequila concoction with real passion fruit purée, ginger beer, and fresh cucumber), and the Gun Fashioned, a ‘New Old Fashioned” comprised of Bulleit bourbon, St. Elizabeth liquor, real maple syrup, and a surprising enhancement of black walnut bitters. Of course, there’s a full range of standard drinks, wines, and craft beers for the less adventurous. Even the drink presentations are unique, with some served in post-apocalyptic barware, or even playfully dispensed in a Camelback “IV” bag perched on rolling frames – perfect for easy hands-free sipping while immersed in a VR experience.
VR Experience? That’s right, separate and apart from the food and drinks is the exclusive VRex Lounge. This is NOT just some video game arcade or Nintendo home Wii game, mind you — this is state-of-the-art 5K Virtual Reality unlike anywhere else. In fact, Rex Baron is the only VR venue in the world offering XTAL, the world’s first VR headset with AutoEye, embedded Leap Motion with 5K resolution, OLED displays, and exceptionally clear patented non-Fresnel VR lenses. You don’t have to know what all that technospeak means, other than it provides an ultra-realistic experience. There’s a whole ‘menu’ of experiences to select, from a relaxing swim with dolphins in Bahamas or sea turtles in the Galapagos, tour through a European town, or floating through space, to a more energetic sky diving, bicycling in the mountains, walking with dinosaurs, or exploring hidden caves, to the full-action gun fights, race car driving, and combat jet flying. Whichever ‘journeys’ you choose, the VRex Lounge also has its own bar – which is sure to make your experience even more fun!
Wow, Rex Baron is an amazing, totally unique concept – and we’re lucky to have it open right here in Boca Raton! So get some REX (Restaurant, Entertainment, Xperience) today!
Rex Baron is located at Town Center at Boca Raton (6000 Glades Road, Boca Raton, Fla.) in the Nordstrom wing (across from California Pizza Kitchen). Open every day for lunch and dinner, plus late night fun (until 2:00 am) on weekends. Private party facilities and group events, including team-building and corporate training are available. For more information or to make reservations, call (561) 447-6993; visit: www.TheRexBaron.com; or email email@example.com.
About the Author: Kenny Spahn is a renowned food critic, culinary columnist, and restaurant authority, and has published over 800 culinary articles. Mr. Spahn serves as CEO of Restaurant Placement Group, an exclusive recruiting, placement, and consulting firm for the Restaurant and Hospitality industry. https://www.restaurantplacement.com.