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Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille

620 East Las Olas Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

954-467-2555  Wildsea@riversidehotel.com 

 
 

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 by Jana Soeldner Dangercocktail1

The name tells the story. The harvest of the ocean is the main attraction at Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille, a stylish restaurant in Fort Lauderdale's Riverside Hotel.  The menu offers some terrific fare for seafood lovers, including a selection of six different kinds of oysters from both the east and west coasts that changes daily. There are also dishes that will appeal to carnivores, as well as some interesting sides.

Executive Chef Toby Joseph describes the menu as modern American cuisine; preparations are the clean, simple kind that allow the freshest fish and shellfish to star on the plate without interference from complicated sauces. Joseph, a graduate of Johnson & Wales in Rhode Island and former executive chef at the Palm Beach Hilton, also follows the farm-to-table principle, using locally sourced products whenever possible. “Something from a local vendor is likely to be picked one day and come in the next, while something from a wholesaler could have been picked weeks ago," he says. “The local vendor may be more expensive, but it’s worth it.”    

Artistic framed photographs of sea creatures decorate the bar area, and the casual dining room has planked floors and hard-surface tables. The design of a large, dramatic, wraparound glass wine case is reminiscent of an aquarium. No wonder it is large; the wine list is 10 pages long, and bottles range from moderately priced to very expensive. A nice selection is offered by the glass.

On the night we visited, guests were dressed in everything from business suits and stylish dresses to shorts, so you'll be comfortable no matter what your attire. The street-side patio offers outdoor seating that overlooks bustling Las Olas Boulevard, and watching the ever-present pedestrian traffic on the trendy street is part of the fun.

Starters

A meal begins with a basket of the buttery, rosemary-scented focaccia. Like everything else, including other breads and desserts, it is made on the premises.         .

The fresh oysters, priced at $3 each, get top billing on the appetizer menu, and they are impeccably fresh and delicious. Even if you’re not sure you like oysters, try a few of these. Fried oysters ($12) had a crispy cornmeal coating, light enough so it did not overpower the mild shellfish, and the accompanying beer mustard cream accented them nicely.  They were very good, but if it is a choice between the two, the fresh oysters are not to be missed. Maine mussels ($13) were also fresh and good, though the red sauce accompanying them that evening was a bit too much.

Shellfish lovers can also choose from king crab legs ($18 for a half pound), a one-pound lobster cocktail ($19); shrimp cocktail ($3 per piece); or top neck clams ($2 each).

Octopus ($13), grilled with garlic aioli, was tender, not overly chewy, and very tasty. The creative pairings of blueberries and bacon add sweetness and saltiness. If you’ve wanted to try octopus and have not, here is an excellent opportunity.

Other appetizers include blue crab cake ($15); ceviche ($14); lobster bisque ($10); and smoked Florida wahoo ($12).

After the server clears the appetizers, hot towels arrive to clean your fingers—a nice touch that makes you feel pampered. 

Entrees

The west Florida grouper ($34), was some of the best fish I've had. The outside was seared to a golden crispiness, and the inside was moist and richly flavorful.  A blackberry drizzle added a perfect touch of sweetness, and the accompanying heirloom tomatoes and peaches were perfectly fresh. The simple combination was simply delicious

Giant tiger shrimp ($32) lived up to their name--at two to a pound, they were indeed huge. Perfectly cooked, they were aromatic with tarragon and stuffed with rich grana padano cream. Tomato jam amd tasty potato gnocchi accompanied them.

Roasted diver scallops ($30) were firm, tender and absolutely fresh. They were whimsically paired with pork belly, as well as a watercress and pea shoot salad. The delicate seafood, salty pork and crisp, crunchy greens were a winning combination.

Although seafood stars here, we could not resist trying the smoked pork shank ($32). We were glad we did. Perfectly tender and richly flavorful, the large portion was served with snap peas and sweet corn. It's a great choice for carnivores who want a change from steak.

Other entrees the night we visited included Key West mutton snapper ($32); monkfish ($28); beef tenderloin ($38) swordfish ($29); Ahi tuna ($34); and whole lobster ($36 and $62).

Desserts

Pastry chef Sabrina Courteman does a memorable job with desserts. Dark chocolate crunch ($10) was a winner: rich dark chocolate outside and creamy chocolate mousse inside, accented with sea salt and caramel ganache. A trio ($10) of dusky, dark and rich chocolate truffle cake, sweet, tangy and refreshing blackberry cabernet sorbet, and smooth, creamy cabernet mascarpone mousse is a tasty way to sample a variety of sweets. Key lime pie ($9) was nicely tart and tangy.

Wild Sea offers some very good seafood and has a stylish yet casual ambience. It’s a place you’ll be glad to have discovered.

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Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille

620 East Las Olas Blvd. Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301

954-467-2555  Wildsea@riversidehotel.com

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Hours: Lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. daily; dinner Sun.-Thur. 5-10 p.m. Fri.-Sat. 5-ll p.m.

Prices: Appetizers $3-$19; entrees $28-$62; desserts $8-$10

Liquor: Full bar, extensive wine list

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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