Gary Rack is one of the South Florida Restauranteurs created with marketing money and not a great restaurant. He reminds me a lot of Tim Petrillo; he calls Karen Hanlon Design, he puts a lot of fancy sounding stuff on the menu and bam, a restaurant is born. I didn't particularly care for Table 42 in Boca, and I was turned off by Rack's Downtown as they advertised half price appetizers at happy hour but they delivered a smaller than normal portion. But he does build nice restaurants, and you can't fight the buzz.
With the opening on MLK day, traffic was light so a trip up to Delray was very pleasant. If you don't know your way around Delray you'll have trouble finding parking. There's little to no parking around the restaurant, and there's no lot; there's a valet out front in a pinch. I know where to park about 2 blocks away; luckily the dark clouds didn't break while I was on the way over.
To his credit, Rack has delivered a handsome restaurant, with rope ceilings and mixed textures. I'm not sure if Karen Hanlon did this design, but the bar has the same defective design for TV watching as YOLO and Nick's New Haven Pizza. These TVs can't be seen unless you're sitting at the bar.
Racks Delray Interior
The booths have big wooden tables with a sort of burlap upholstery; they're a little bit tight. I think large people might not be comfortable. Of course the hostess tried to seat me at a table in the middle of the room at 2:50pm. I asked for a booth.
Rack's Delray Booths
Edison bulbs with inverted bicycle baskets round out the decor. It's fancy schmancy. There New Orleans style jazz playing; but mostly its a loud room. Only about 1/3 full and I could clearly hear the conversation from 2 tables over.>
There's a nice oyster bar in the back.
My server was good, particularly for a first day of business. There were a few specials but none appealed to me. I'd checked out the menu before coming; It's sort of a Cape Cod meets the French Quarter theme; a mix of New England favorites and New Orleans spice. It seemed on the expensive side; $24 for a lobster roll with Linda Bean's next door. The salmon sounded good, but I wanted to try a couple of items and $26 was too much for lunch. I ended up getting the Country Pork and Beans; Pork Ribs with Boston Baked Beans. They also have a raw bar and a "Kettle" section; I pictured a kettle of mussels like you get at Blue Moon and ordered some of those.
A runner brought out the ribs, and he noticed that I didn't have silverware; he brought me a fork and a knife. But I still needed a napkin, and an oyster fork. Finally I had everything I needed.
Racks Delray Ribs
The ribs reminded me of the portion at the Royal Pig Pub; $16 for 1/3 rack. I tasted the beans first; VERY sweet. They could have used a bit more baking, but they were better than most BBQ joint beans.
There were only 3 ribs; a lot of meat for 3 ribs; it was a little fatty and dry tasting. I had to ask for some BBQ sauce. Overall, pretty good ribs, but not really enough for $16. It's also too big a portion of beans; you can't and shouldn't eat that many brown sugar laden beans. This should come with a smaller portion of beans and some cole slaw to balance out the flavors.
Note to the chef: lose the garnish. It sticks to everything and just gets in the way.
The mussels were in a broth with a lot of onions and fennel. What immediately struck me was that this wasn't the "kettle" I was expecting. This was a pretty small portion.
Racks Delray Mussels
16 mussels for $14. Do the math. They were fine but I didn't really care for the broth, which had some jalapenos in it; and the bread wasn't the best kind for dipping. Overall a poorly thought-out dish.
$38 for a lunch of 2 apps and I can't say I had enough food.
No Italian wines by the glass, but I'm getting used to that. The bar is pretty nice although with a crowd it's going to be very cramped; like YOLO there isn't much room inside for much of a scene. It certainly brightens up the neighborhood; Another handsome and expensive space in Delray Beach.