If you've ever stayed at the Riverside Hotel, or eaten in one of their restaurants, you know that the one thing that's consistent is the mediocrity of their offerings. Mediocre rooms, mediocre service and mediocre food. Wild Sea breaks the mold. Wild Sea is a beautiful restaurant.
Unfortunately, Wild Sea doesn't break the mold of wildly overpriced hotel restaurants who hire nobody chefs and charge the highest prices in town.
They have an oyster bar upon entry; oysters are $3 per and clams are $2.
Wild Sea Oyster Bar at the Riverside Hotel
Around the corner is a stylish, modern bar with a marble counter and good, well-placed TVs. The bar space is comfortable and could easily support a decent standing-room only crowd, if they ever had a crowd, which they don't.jump-->
Wild Sea Bar
From photos I've seen; portions are very small, while prices are very big. $47 for a non-prime bone-in filet. Don't count on the menu here or on their web site; the menu changes regularly. So it's a total crapshoot.>
I ordered some oysters, one of each to get a look at the sizes and differences; 6 oysters is $18.
Wild Sea Oysters
As you can see, all of the oysters here are small, unlike the hulking Blue Points or Gulf Coast Apalachicolas that we're most used to. The sauces were the standard mignonette, an indian cocktail sauce and shredded horseradish. I thought the indian cocktail sauce was the best; sort of a yogurt/cucumber sauce that paired well with the briny oysters. The Oysters were fine, but didn't do much to diminish my hunger. Small oysters might be good for snooty conversation but they're not much for eating.
The new summer "fixed price" early bird menu illustrates perfectly why I can't stand the people who own this restaurant. The menu is only available from 5pm to 7pm, and actually costs more than the regular menu. So either they are stupid, or they think that we are stupid; either of which just makes me want to go somewhere else. It proves that they couldn't care less about offering anything close to affordable for people in the neighborhood.
They claim to have live music nightly, but the music is actually at the Golden Lion, the hotel bar next door.
The 28yo chef here was previously a Sous Chef at a French restaurant in Las Vegas. The "head" chef is a career hotel chef who briefly ran the kitchen at St Regis before Ritz Carlton took them over.
What we have here is a seafood restaurant with no chowders, crab or lobster.
The people who own the Riverside Hotel know full well that there are limited wealthy, frivolous people in Fort Lauderdale, yet they've still opened a restaurant that is too high end for the clumsy, mid range hotel. The uber-wealthy aren't going to be staying at the Riverside; they should have a menu that suits the kind of people who pay $260/night for a room; not the type that are staying at the Ritz Carlton or in South Beach. The kind of people who stay at the Riverside and who think that Big City Tavern is fine dining aren't going to want to pay the prices here.
Wild Sea is typical, delusional Fort Lauderdale. It's easy to build a fancy restaurant with money. But without skill and talent, opening a great restaurant is nearly impossible.
With Buckhead opening a seafood restaurant at the old Jackson's Steakhouse location in a couple of months, Wild Sea will have formidable competition and they'll have to do better than this menu to compete. Meanwhile, it's a beautiful bar and a nice alternative to the other, bustling venues nearby for a drink.
Wild Sea Dining Room