Last Update
Oct 6th, 2017

Wild Sea Oyster Bar & Grille

620 E Las Olas Blvd
Fort Lauderdale FL, 33301
954 467-0671
Overall Rating
2.0
Food
Service
Ambiance
Value
Last Review
01/18/2017

Details

Hours: Wed, Thur 5pm-10pm, Fri,Sat 5pm-11pm
Dress Code: Neat Casual
Parking: Street Metered, Garage
CC: Yes
Alcohol: Full Bar
Outdoor: Yes
Reservations: Yes
Delivery: No

Pros

Handsome Bar Area

Cons

Wildly Overpriced
Clueless Menus
Sluggish Service
Understaffed

Critic's Review

Every once in a while I check the menu here, for entertainment if for nothing else. It's amazing how this place still has the same chef with the same clueless menu year after year. Each item on the menu provides another level of humor; I highly recommend checking it out when you need a chuckle.

First, they've staged these photos on their web site as if the place is some sort of meet market; the kind of young smiling people that you'll never see dining at Wild Sea. The menu borders on delusion with no understanding of seafood or how to constuct a compelling menu in general. Set aside their "seafood charcuterie" (charcuterie is meat by definition) and their sriracha aioli (with sriracha spelled wrong), it's almost a parody of a restaurant menu. Some highlights:

They have Sriracha aioli, Maple aioli, Truffle Aioli. They also have Sriracha Mayo and Garlic Aioli (a tautology) with Srirachi spelled wrong every time. Aioli is garlic mayonnaise; it's not a synonym for mayonnaise. Maple mayonnaise sounds disgusting; maple aioli is actually more disgusting. "Would you like some Maple Garlic Mayo on your pancakes"?

Let's take a delicate soft shell crab and put some thai hot sauce, avocado and tomato on it and be really edgy and call it a BLT. Who signs off on this? How is the same chef in charge of this restaurant after so many years of folly?

Overreach is the word here; When you struggle to make a menu sound interesting to stupid people, you just make a fool out of yourself. And you don't have a compelling menu. The only thing I've ever wanted to try on any of their menus was the seafood chowder; mainly because they don't tell you what's in it. If I knew, I may not have came; but it was a nice day to sit outside.

I got to the restaurant at 1:30 and there were no employees in sight. There's a hostess stand at the patio entrance; I waited for a few minutes but I didn't see 1 employee the entire time. So I figured maybe there was a hostess inside.

The oyster bar isn't even open at lunch; nobody inside either.

I went back out and asked the Indigo hostess if there was supposed to be a person at Wild Sea; she said "There should be someone there". So I want back and waited. After 5 minutues a runner came out. "Is there a hostess, or should I just sit anywhere", I asked. I grabbed a table outside.

The runner offered me sparkling water; I asked for an iced tea. It was delivered with sugar and a sliver of lemon; when the server came over to take my order I asked for extra lemon, becuase it's something that I always do.

The server explained that the chowder was "cream based, with salmon and Mahi". Did you ever hear of salmon chowder before? Leftover soup is the hallmark of a fancy restaurant. Well I wasn't ordering $15 fish tacos at this place, so I ordered the chowder with a $6 side salad.

There's low music playing, but not enough to drown out the substantial road noise. There was a time when trucks weren't supposed to be on Las Olas, but such a thing was never really enforced. Now it's like eating outside in NYC with lots of noise and noticable fumes from trucks and busses.

Things move VERY slowly here at Wild Sea. There's 1 server and 1 runner who seem to be running the entire FOH. A seemingly useless manager-looking dude poked his head out a couple of times, but in a Hotel who knows; he could just be some guy on a break. The server guy would disappear for several minutes and then appear with a couple of plates.

10 minutes and the runner brings out the food. Anticipating that the soup would need seasoning, I asked for salt and pepper. The salad appeared to be completely dry, so I asked for some dressing.

While he as gone I tasted the soup; it was badly in need of seasoning. A good chowder is flavored with bacon and/or caramelized vegetables; soups can often expose the true culinary capabilities of the kitchen. Salt and pepper made this edible, but if I got this at Mulligan's I probably wouldn't have anything good to say about it. It did have a good amount of fish in it, but this was a poorly thought out collection of ingredients. Leftover soup.

The modified oyster crackers were much worse than the stuff that comes in a bag. More overreach at the Riverside Hotel.

The runner first came out with what looked like a thimble of balsamic vinegar, and that wasn't going on my salad. "I don't want balsalmic, can you get me something closer to Italian dressing". He came back with something with a purple hue that would have to do. As it turns out it wasn't too berryish so I was able to eat my $6 side salad.

When the food was delivered my server checked on me for a second but I didn't see him again. My empty glass also didn't seem to register with the manager dude when he momentarily looked in my direction.

Notice that the wrapper from my iced tea sugar never left the table. Basic server skills don't apply at Wild Sea.

I spotted the runner guy and told him I wanted my check. He took the dishes but there was no offer for a refill on my $2.75 iced tea. As it turns out he never told the server I wanted my check because the next time he came out he didn't know; so I had to wait a while more at the table with my empty glass and sugar wrapper.

$21 with small tip for this, which is almost comical. Add the ridiculously poor service and you have a waste of space on Las Olas.

Note that there is no hostess at Wild Sea, so apparently the Indigo hostess lied to me.

Conclustion

The first thing you need to know is that all of the marketing hype you hear about this restaurant is wholly fabricated; it's not a hot spot, never was a hot spot, and it never will be a hot spot. You can tell from the menu that they're culinarily incompetent, and they don't surprise you with the actual food. It's like hotel room service food in a fancy environment.

If the service was "5 star" it might make a difference, but they don't even have the restaurant properly staffed. And the staff they do have isn't trained to provide even a statisfactory experience.

The truth is that this restaurant concept failed 6 months after opening, but they're sticking with it. Same chef. Same silly menu. Same result.

Review 2/26/13

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.

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.

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.

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.

Comment Policy Add Comment
JeanMarie
Reply
I love the crab cakes. 1 for $17, 2 for $34. No discount for 2. Total clowns.
Administrator
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You're actually wrong about that. If you buy 2 $17 crab cakes, you get 2 sides. If you order 2 crab cake for $34, you only get 1 side. It's a trick for stupid people.
Administrator
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The hotel (and wild sea) locked out locals during the hurricane. It used to be the place to go when every other place was closed, but we can not cross it off the list as an option.
Administrator
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I walked by this place and it looks the same as before inside. The outside is a bit more metallic looking but inside it's the same bar. No need to spend money.
Administrator
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They didn't bother updating their hours on either their web site or FB page during "renovations" when they're only open for dinner. Meanwhile they tweet daily; except that none of their followers are people; all business partners. It's just a clueless operation from head to toe.
RogerC
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Typical Las Olas Company. Spend 500K so that they can justify charging $40 for a choice filet. They'll still have the same hotel quality staff and same hotel quality kitchen. When will they learn?
Administrator
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The haven't yet caught on that nobody that knows Fort Lauderdale wants to rent from them. There's going to be a lot of empty retail space over a 2 block span
Administrator
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Wild Sea no longer serves lunch, since they are now promoting that they "Open At 5"
Administrator
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Apparently the bad overpriced food concept is still in place; as if the decor was the reason that Wild Sea is a laughing stock. Now it's a slightly fancier laughing stock. I think they're following the Truluck's concept without the good happy hour.

Same delusional photos on the web site as if this place is some sort of hot hangout for the young models they hired for the shoot. It's not.
Administrator
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Wild Sea is under renovations. No word if they'll be renovating the Bad Food @ absurd prices concept
Irene
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I don't understand this place. They post pictures on the Facebook and it doesn't even look good. And they charge a fortune for it. It's like they don't even know what good food looks like.
David
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This place is a bunch of nut jobs. On their FB page they say "25% off and complimentary valet", so I asked if that was for everyone. Instead of answering, they deleted the comment and blocked my account!
Laurie J
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Everyone is blocked from Wild Sea's page. You're not allowed to dilute their fantasies about how great their career hotel chef is.
Administrator
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Only people who don't tell them how great they are.
Claudia Jean
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The trick is that Guests of the hotel get 25% off. They know that no locals are going to pay to eat at this place.
Administrator
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As I've said, this is a hotel restaurant and NOT a neighborhood restaurant. The idea is to convince people that it's a better hotel than it is by having a fancy restaurant. It's not intended for "us".
Administrator
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Wild Sea will be serving Lunch starting on Oct 15; We have the menu. They have a wedge salad with 5 salad dressing choices, none of which is blue cheese.
M.R.
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They block any criticism on their Facebook. They hire magazines to do stories about their big hotel chef. The owners are just pretending to have a good restaurant; paying people to tell them how great they are.
jch
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I have only bad things about this place. Never busy and the food is not good, especially for the high price. I guess it will stay in business only as long as the tourists go to it. Because the locals all know better!!
Janis
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We tried to have brunch on a Sunday -when we called we were told reservations were not needed. When we went to the restaurant; the hostess asked if we had a reservation which we did not. The restaurant was empty but we were told without a reservation; we could go to the bar and wait for a table. It would be 10-15 minutes for a table. I don't need to be manipulated to buy a drink and this technique is inexcusable. We left and won't return.
Kyle
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I say that we lobby to convert Wild Sea to a Fort Lauderdale Gift shop, where you can buy old posters and bathing suits from the 70s.
Administrator
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I put up the menu from last Friday night. Way too much fruit to want to try it. Why is there orange in the baby bok choy, or cherries in the salad? Oysters with peach? Shrimp with coconut, grouper with peach, pork cheeks with cherries.

Why do wealthy restaurant owners hire amateur chefs which just cause them to lose all of their money? Don't wealthy restaurant owners ever eat out? Don't they know that this is crap?
Administrator
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Wild Sea now offering a "Summer" fixed price menu for just $55. What a clown act.
jch
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I can't believe this place is still open a year later!!!!
Administrator
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It's owned by the hotel, so making money isn't as important as trying to pretend that it's a high end hotel. It's something to advertise on their website to sell rooms.
Jason
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One fake review on Yelp. I thought they had a filter? Yelpers probably can't afford the place.
Lauren
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Since when does going on yelp mean your on a budget?I wrote the review....and I love the place. I've seen them fixing some of the issues (oysters not being cold enough the first week, they even started making cocktail sauce) I hope they make it, I for one don't mind paying a little more for good food (yes I think it's good) and atmosphere.
Administrator
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Great, so the one who posted the fake review on Yelp is defending it. Your rabid defense of this restaurant proves your lack of objectivity.

It looks like the filter finally figured out that Lauren's review was a plant.
baster
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so just go to big city. Everyone who tries to do good food with ingredients that you don\'t get or understand goes out of business. This is why the food culture in this town is a good 10 or 20 years behind the rest of the country. I bet for you parmesan truffle fries are haute cuisine, but in restaurant in real city people are into food. Yeah i agree the night you were there the fish selection was a bit boring, but changing the menu daily means the food is the best and freshest the market has to offer.
Rita Jean
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Why can't anyone figure out how to make good food that doesn't cost $30 for a small entree with no salad? THAT is the question?
Robot
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Because good food and good presentation is not the same thing. People who spend these kind of prices on a meal a), typically know little to nothing about food and 2), it costs a fortune to have good line chefs spend the better part of their day creating art forms of food for these people. Your question has nothing to do with this article. They didn't build the place to serve good food, its for pretty food and charging for it. We're selling "special" here, not food.
Administrator
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I don't think that the 2 are mutually exclusive. The truth is that it's easier to teach presentation than how to be a great chef. You can hire a chef who can assemble ingredients a lot cheaper than you can someone who knows how to make great food. So in a way you're correct; in that they're tricking people with presentation and gimmicky claims of fresher food into believing that the food is worth top dollar.
Administrator
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I've written 850 reviews, so why do you have to guess at what I consider "haute cuisine"? The truth is that this restaurant epitomizes what's wrong with Fort Lauderdale. Instead of being a nice place to get good food, it has to try every gimmick in the book to charge the highest possible prices. You can't feign sophistication.

If restaurants want to continue to take advice from people with associate's degrees in marketing that's their business; they are free to lose all of their money. Its my job to point out how it measures up and whether I think it will fly.

I've been right a lot more than I've been wrong.
Heywood
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850 reviews? You must take yourself and your opinion very seriously.
John
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The 850 reviews have helped me, and I take them much more seriously than Yelp, Zagat, etc.

Thanks!!!
Administrator
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Don't most people take their opinions seriously?

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