The Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale turned 75 this year, and as part of the celebration debuted Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grill in an elegant space that retains Old Florida charm. All the seafood is wild caught except the oysters and Sunburst trout, and much of the produce is locally grown.
The chef behind the innovative cuisine is Jon Sanchez, a native of Chillicothe, Mo., whose resume includes stints at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro and Bradley Ogden’s restaurant at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
The menu changes often, but on a recent visit there were small, sweet Shigoku oysters from Washington State and larger, briny ones from New Brunswick served with yogurt-horseradish sauce. Tender royal red shrimp from deep in the Gulf Stream were marinated in Key lime juice with hearts of palm, onion and cilantro.
Diced blue kona tuna was mixed with black radish matchsticks, trout roe and lemon-verbena blossoms. Swordfish, tinted pale orange from its diet of krill, was grilled and plated on a bed of quinoa in smoked onion sauce with white asparagus, strips of crisp kohlrabi and a twig of succulent samphire.
There were also octopus with scallops and bacon and golden tilefish with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms in clam broth. Double-cream brie-style cheese and a meaty, dense blue from Sweet Grass Dairy in Thomasville, Ga., made for a savory-sweet ending with yuzu gelee and strawberry jam.