By Melanie Galarce
Stiltsville Fish Bar (1787 Purdy Ave, Miami Beach) is a locally sourced seafood restaurant in the heart of Sunset Harbour with Caribbean-style drinks and laid back, maritime-inspired digs. Spearheaded by the masterminds behind New York City’s beloved Root & Bone and Top Chef notoriety, Chef Jeff McInnis and Chef Janine Booth have brought their love of seafood to our backyard and we might be forever indebted to them.
Menu highlights: If you’re in the mood for a seafood extravaganza, you’ll want to savor every second of the Stiltsville menu. The restaurant offers various offerings in the form of snacks, salads, small, and big plates. Mitch and I began our culinary journey with the Cobia Tiraditos. This small plate is representative of how much fun the chefs can have at Stiltsville; with avocado, crispy hominy popped corn, aji amarillo chili, cilantro, and lime, this is the kind of raw dish that will convert any skeptic. Also, I’ll give a very notable mention that the fish was incredibly fresh (caught earlier that day) and I loved the touch of popped corn for its originality.
Another great spin on a dish was offered in the Green Eggs and Ham, which brought green deviled eggs, crispy country ham, and pickles. This dish is undoubtedly an ode to the chefs’ beautiful one-year-old daughter, but we’re just glad it got a spot on the menu because it’s as vivid in color as it is in flavor.
Last, but most definitely not least, we had our share of fish, which is the piece de resistance at Stiltsville. We ventured to try the Fish Collar with bacon plantain sauce and herb salad as well as the Black Grouper, a cast iron seared offering a subtle springy and rich taste. Both dishes had innovative touches and bold flavors that you’ll see present in all dishes across the menu – particularly in the form of unexpected sauces or combinations with the fish entrees we tried.
Standout dishes: Growing up in Miami and the Caribbean, I’ve had my fair share of fish dip, but Stiltsville might have the best Smoked Fish Dip in town. This particular rendition brings cherry wood smoked local catch, house pickles, thyme, and butter toasted saltines. With a full bodied, creamy taste, this starter is the perfect way to kick off your meal. You can also enjoy the fish dip as a happy hour special, so make sure this makes its way to your table.
Another standout dish? The Crispy Coconut Shrimp with kataifi wrapped local shrimp, roasted Miami coconut, and key lime. I’ll admit I’m usually a skeptic when it comes to coconut shrimp, since the dish feels a bit artificial and forced across menus in Miami. However, this rendition is an inventive take with fresh ingredients that fuels new life into an otherwise stale menu item.
I’d be remiss if I also didn’t shout out the Sweet Corn Spoon Bread with buttermilk cream, scallions, and lobster (upon request). You can really taste the Southern-inspired culinary influence that the chefs have incorporated so masterfully well at Root & Bone in this dish, and when you add in the butter poached lobster this becomes one of the shining stars at Stiltsville.
Are we boozing? It’s South Beach, so we are most definitely sneaking in a drink (or two) with dinner. At Stiltsville you can enjoy draft beer, wine, and specialty cocktails. My personal favorite? the “No Buzz Cocktail” section. I was 9 months pregnant when I visited Stiltsville and felt like indulging in the Passion Fruit and Pineapple Ginger Beer, which was exactly what any woman at the end of her pregnancy deserves: a cocktail that tastes as good (if not better) than the beer you’ve been craving for the last 40 weeks and haven’t been able to savor. Kudos to the bar staff!
Check this place out if you like: they myriad new spots that have popped up in Sunset Harbour like Ofa and Lutum. If you’re in the neighborhood and are looking for some stellar seafood, then Stiltsville is the one place you’ll want to check out – preferably in a hammock chair as you watch the sun set.
Mel’s take: I’m unapologetically smitten by everything at this restaurant. Chefs Jeff and Janine offer the kind of flawless hospitality that you would expect at a fine dining experience without having to pay the hefty price tag. The menu is innovative, yet traditional in its servings and never once feels forced. The dishes are well thought out and reminiscent of a top-notch seafood restaurant. Also, I should note that Sir Richard Branson was dining at Stiltsville a few tables down from us and the hospitality was equally as flawless for all patrons even though said celebrity had everyone in sight starstruck.
Insider Tip: Brunch officially launched at Stiltsville on November 18th so you’ll probably want to make a visit for that as well!
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