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Wild Sea at the Riverside Hotel

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The invitation to a media dinner at Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille, located inside the Riverside Hotel, made me think of Sting’s sad, dark song called “The Wild, Wild Sea.”  The lyrics are gloomy and mournful and I immediately pictured a bleak, cheerless restaurant.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  I In fact, Wild Sea‘s decor fuses rustic and modern elements and is peppered with hues of burnt orange, cream and maritime shades of blue.  I loved it–from top to bottom and had a truly amazing meal.  Actually, I can’t wait to go back!

The group met in the lobby of the hotel, with General Manager Heiko Dobrikow.  He gave us history on the hotel and set the stage for what we about to experience.  Because I entered the hotel from the opposite side of the building, I hadn’t even seen the restaurant, but I was quite impressed with the little that I had seen of the hotel.  It was built in 1936 and is both  luxurious and laidback, mixing Caribbean style with old Florida charm.  The 12-story property features 219 guestrooms, inclusive of 6 suites accentuated by Tommy Bahama®-styled design elements, vintage décor, as well as the most discriminating detail – sweeping views of the city skyline and New River.

Our first stop was the Oyster Bar–it offers a daily selection of both East and West coast oysters.  While I tasted everything available (You KNOW ME), I must say that I was most impressed with the East coast offerings.  And I LOVED the sauces that Executive Chef Toby Joseph concocted to accompany the oysters.

From there, we moved into the main dining room.  It offers a full bar with an accompanying seating area and an open dining room overlooking an extensive wine cellar, as well as a private dining area.  There, the mixologists hand crafted Basil Martinis and presented me with something truly extraordinary–my own silver bucket of white cheddar, jalapeno popcorn.

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Finally, we were seated for dinner.  Again, I hadn’t done my homework and was NOT sufficiently prepared for the delectables that Wild Sea had planned.  If they were looking to impress a fine group of journalists, they smashed that goal with the first course–Lacinato Kale Salad:  country ham, butternut squash, bartlett pear and maple vinaigrette.  Really?  It’s like that?  They followed this up with a Citrus Poached Wild Striped Bass (with black garlic!!!!!!).  The next course was Sunburst Trout, followed by what may have been my favorite course–Back 40 Honey Brown Ale Braised Beef Cheeks.  If I had known that beef cheeks were this yummy, I would have started kissing cows a LONG TIME AGO!!!!  Finally, dessert–Heirloom Key Lime Pie with raspberry sauce and a lemon verbena marshmallow.  GOOD.NESS!

Wild Sea opened back in February.  I highly recommend it.  HIGHLY.  In fact, let me know when you plan to go, and I’ll meet you there.  Beef cheeks.  Yeah, beef cheeks.

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Disclosure:  I was an invited guest of Wild Sea for this media dinner.  I had a MOST scrumptious meal and got a cool swag bag at the end of the night.  Oh, and I “persuaded” the chef to make me an order of those beef cheeks to take home.  They were THAT GOOD!  All opinions are my own.  Beef cheeks.  Yeah, beef cheeks.

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