It’s a small locale on the corner of 7th Street and South Miami Avenue, whose only sign is the logo painted onto the side wall and the lettering on the overhead. I’d passed by it many times, driving west on 8th, but it was only last week while walking around (enjoying Miami’s spring days) that we thankfully decided to stop for a few drinks and appetizers. Opening the doors, we walked into a completely new atmosphere. It was dark, like the typical bar, but had the hint of seafood in the air. And more importantly, it was packed. Instead of waiting for a table, we chose a few seats on the elongated bar, right in front of the case that held the oysters and stone crab.
After a few minutes, our waiter came around with an assortment of breads accompanied by butter and an olive spread. For about twenty minutes we debated on a number of appetizing dishes, but finally decided with the assistance of our waiter. The first dish out was the Ceviche Mixto. It has a thicker juice than the typical ceviche, but is definitely quite tasty. It comes with shrimp, stone crab, snapper, and lobster mixed with a few halves of cherry tomatoes. In the meantime, we also decided on a few drinks. We ordered the “Smoked” and the Green Mile, whiskey and gin respectively. The whiskey cocktail tasted like a whiskey on the rocks with a hint of orange. The gin’s flavor was a little more discreet under the cucumber-chile and lime flavors. Next arrived the Oysters. There’s an oyster menu with around 10 different types of oysters from both the East and West coasts. We told our waiter to choose six types and bring two of each. These were the Eld Inlet, Hama Hama, Sea Hook, Raspberry Point, Montauk, and Malabar oysters. The only one which I didn’t particularly like was the Raspberry Point oyster, because of its stronger aftertaste. The platter came accompanied by three different sauces; I loved the wine-based one and the cucumber with wasabi one.
Halfway through our oysters, the Large Stone Crab arrived. At this point, we were running out of space in the tight bar. We finished the oysters and began with the crab. The meat was good, especially when mixed with the sauces that accompanied it. Our last two plates arrived just as we finished the crab. The Tuna Poke is large, square pieces of tuna laid atop half an avocado, topped with sweet soy and sesame seeds. I really did like it; however, the flavor became a little heavy and somewhat dull about halfway through. However, the moment I tried the Cobia Sashimi… well, let’s just say it’s a miracle I willingly shared it. It’s five pieces of avocado topped with (of course) cobia sashimi. There doesn’t seem to be much else to it, except that the dressing/sauce that drenches the dish is a mixture of white soy and sriracha–plus a few other “secret ingredients” our waiter jokingly refused to disclose. The flavor was spectacular; it feels so light, while exploding in your mouth. This is the dish I would recommend the first time you’re there.
Overall, I really enjoyed my experience at The River Oyster Bar. The staff is extremely friendly and the food is great. The only way to improve the experience is to make a reservation, especially if you’re going with a larger party. The restaurant is a definitely a little pricey if you’re looking for a cheap eat, but it falls within the norm when it comes to seafood.