#MiamiSpiceMonday – The River Oyster Bar

Happy #MiamiSpiceMonday! After taking last week off for Labor Day, we’re back to share another Miami Spice experience to help you in your decision making during these last couple weeks of Miami Spice.

This week we’re visiting The River Oyster Bar, a Miami mainstay that has proven to be a survivor amidst the current craziness that is the Brickell City Center development. Through almost three years of intensive construction, street closures, and landscape altering conditions, The River Oyster Bar has stood its ground continuing to serve loyal patrons 7-days a week, and, yes, that includes their Miami Spice menu.

Speaking of said menu, it’s pretty standard in terms of its offerings – three appetizer options, three dinner options, and three dessert options. As you can imagine it’s almost all seafood, so if you’re more of a meat person, this may not be the place for you. In may case, I can never have enough seafood (fine, fine… any food) so I reveled in the chance to savor some of the best that the ocean has to offer.

Before I go over what I ate, I have to mention the drinks. Adding to the excitement of the meal that awaited me, I was super happy to find out that The River Oyster Bar is now offering some cocktails from Oak Tavern, which sadly closed earlier this year. It’s nice to see its sister restaurant taking on a few fan favorites and incorporating them into the menu. In addition to drinks like The Green Mile and the Mai Tai, they are also serving the Tuna Poke, Scallop Tostadas, Crispy Suckling Pig, and Mushroom Crusted Ribeye. Sadly, none are offered on the Miami Spice menu, so I won’t be discussing them here.

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OK, so back to business… For the appetizers, I opted for the Creamy Sea Urchin Polenta and Spiny Lobster Flatbread. The polenta, topped with a 60 degree egg and Anna Maria Fish Co. bottarga, was a pleasantly innovative surprise. Smooth and creamy, it went perfectly with a side of crusty bread (but, honestly, what doesn’t), and was a surprisingly light entry point to the meal.

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The flatbread was also a nice choice, but kind of paled in comparison to the polenta. That said, for those with a slightly less adventurous palate will find the combination of lobster, creme fraiche, avocado, tarragon, and cumin to be a perfectly pleasant starter.

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For the main courses, I loved standard seafood selections of Sea Scallops a la Plancha and Fisherman’s Grouper Stew. The scallops were cooked to perfection, with a nice caramelized crust on the outside and a soft, succulent, and sweet inside. Accompanied by a celeriac puree, celery-parsley salad, lemon butter, and paddlefish caviar, they were a show stopper.

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The stew was equally decadent, chock full of mussels, clams, chickpeas, tomato, and ‘Nduja sausage. Add to that a beautifully cooked piece of fish, complete with crispy skin, and you’ve hit the dinner jackpot.

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So, here’s the part where I have to admit that I have absolutely zero self control. After reading the description of the Lager Braised Shortribs there was no way that my inner fat kid was going to forgive me if I didn’t try them. And, guess what? Once again, that little fatty inside me knew what he was doing. The shortribs were extremely moist and tender and sat on a bed of Rustichella Trofie mac & cheese, caramelized shallots, horseradish bread crumbs. Maybe they should think of opening a spinoff restaurant called The River Shortrib Bar. You can all thank me when this eventually becomes a reality… 🙂

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After all that, the party continued with dessert because that’s what Miami Spice is all about: pure gluttony (in the best way possible, of course). And, when it came to dessert, I tried the”Slice of Summer” Sundae and Meyer Lemon Cheesecake. The sundae was a nice treat with buttermilk ice cream, bourbon peaches, sugar cookie, pecans, and butterscotch. The fresh fruit and cool ice cream provided a nice refreshing bite, different and delightful.

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The cheesecake, however, was a killer end to a divine meal. The cheesecake itself was rich and lush, but not overwhelming, the Meyer lemon infused just the right amount of tartness, and the poached blueberries on top added something special that when combined all together could only be described as the quintessential summer bite.

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Note: I would have loved to have tried the Peanut Butter Mousse as well because, well, peanut butter mousse, but even I’ve got to draw the line somewhere…

The Spice price is right because: I was a little bummed that the only oyster offering on the menu was an Oyster Ceviche appetizer. I would have hoped that a restaurant with the name “oyster” in it would have featured a little more of it’s namesake on the menu. Regardless, The River Oyster Bar is sure to satisfy any seafood lover. The fish is fresh, the cooking is classic, and the portions are plentiful. You can’t ask for much more than that for $39.

Standout dishes: I have to say that all three entrees were very much worth the price of admission; you can’t go wrong with any option. My advice would be to go with a group of friends, order at least one of each and share in their delight together. For dessert, order the cheesecake, but be sure that everyone gets their own. Sharing is not caring when it comes to this cheesecake.

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