Last Update
May 4th, 2018

Boathouse at the Riverside

620 Sagamore Road
Fort Lauderdale FL, 33301
Overall Rating
1.6
Food
Service
Ambiance
Value
Last Review
03/22/2018

Details

Hours: Wed-Sun 4pm-Close
Parking: Garage
CC: Yes
Alcohol: Full Bar
HasWifi: Yes
Outdoor: Open Air

Pros

On the Water

Cons

Minuscule Portions
Inept food Preperation
Mismatched Decor

Critic's Review

This place quietly opened last week; the Riverside Hotel people don't seem to want anyone to know about it. They open at 4pm daily; no happy hour yet, but I decided to walk over as I'd skipped lunch and I needed a snack. They don't actually have any real food on the menu; it's all small plates, so I knew I wouldn't be ruining my appetite.

Walking down the riverwalk, there's a gate behind Cheesecake factory that leads tot he restaurant.

Through the gate and there it is .A big green building in the distance.

There's an odd patio off to the side; not sure why they didn't put an awning over it. It didn't appear to be open for business. I think it would feel strange to be sitting there; it looks more like a dance floor or a stage than a dining area.

The entrance greets you with a fish tank, circa 1985. A fancy chandelier hangs nearby; it's like 2 different people decorated the place and they weren't allowed to confer.

The first thing I notice is that the place doesn't look anything like the artist's renderings (see at the end of the article). The rendering had the waiting area as a beautiful circular bottle display; instead there are awkward pieces of plexiglass that make it look more like a holding area than a waiting area in a restaurant. The wicker furniture, the plexiglass, the wood lecturn, the stone walls and the chandeliers create an odd mish-mosh of imbalance.

The bar is also not nearly as nice; the modern block of TVs in the drawings doesn't exist and there are just a couple of TVs, so any idea that this could be a sports bar can be put to rest.

The bar was full except for one seat at the end, which was all I needed. No happy hour, so I just ordered an iced tea. I was just here to try a dish and be on my way.

Ice tea is served with 90% ice.

The menu here is a sad misinterpretation of Mediterranean cuisine, miniaturized so that the rich people who own the hotel can get richer off their guests. They have no menu on the hotel website, and the restaurant website has a menu that isn't the menu in the restaurant; this is what happens when you hire kindergarten students to do your marketing. So I had to go over the menu again. I knew the bartender from the Royal Pig, and I'd heard him push the slop over there many times, so I wasn't listening to any of his suggestions.

I selected a "charred octopus" dish purported to be served with duck fat potatoes, romesco sauce and chorizo oil.

While waiting, I took a walk around. The place has it's own kitchen, so they're not lugging stuff in from the hotel. The room inside is smaller than I thought it would be. The built-in bench seating in the renderings is non existent; you just have a bunch of tables on a porch that looks like you could have built yourself with pieces from Home Depot. Polished concrete and pre-fab railings. Instead of handsome white chairs with pillows they have the wicker special from Lowes. The roof looks like it was put up with a stapler and makes you feel like you're in a tent.

It reminds me more of Cracker Barrel or the dining room in a retirement condo than any kind of upscale restaurant. Plus the average age of the patrons was about. 70, so the rocking chair on the porch image kept coming back to me. You don't really feel like you're on the water, and there aren't many boats. It's not a boatyard. It's a restaurant with a dock.

If I showed this picture to 100 Fort Lauderdale residents and asked them to guess where it was from, 95 of them would say Duffy's. Notice the nice booths in the rendering were scrapped in favor of regular tables. Not a booth in the joint.

The food came out in 12 minutes. I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing out loud; How can servers put this in front of customers without being totally embarrassed?

Notice the flat parsley leaves covering one of the potatoes; they don't even bother to tear or chiffonade the leaves. This had to be a joke, right? 4 tiny potatoes and 4 little pieces of octopus for $12. One of the potatoes was soft, one was hard and the other 2 were cooked properly.

The romesco was ineptly made; romesco is a pepper, tomato and nut sauce with garlic, olive oil and sherry. It was just too salty and I couldn't taste any of the expected flavors.

The octopus was overcooked in general; the larger pieces were somewhat edible but the skinny tentacle was burned to a crisp. Sending it back seemed like more trouble than it was worth. I'd learned all I needed to know.

Another disastrous dish at the Riverside Hotel.

The couple next to me ordered the wings; 4 chicken wings for $12. On the other side a couple of dudes shared a single crabcake, which looked mushy and made me glad I didn't order it.

I had to wait for my check as the bartender was describing the menu to 2 people who had just sat down. $17.90 for what I had with tip. No refill, although one was offered when I asked for my check.

Conclusion

On the Riverside Hotel website, they have the artist rendering pictures rather than the actual restaurant, mainly because the restaurant is a huge disappointment. It looks cheap.

The menu here is a complete disaster; they seem to think if you sprinkle smoked paprika on something it becomes a tapa. They don't really have any food; just contrived small plates with forced ingredients to try to fit some unstated theme.

From the renderings I though this might be a place I could come once in a while for a beer and to watch a game, but I think I'll be here about as often as I have dinner at Indigo, which is never. This place fits the hotel perfectly; an ineptly run facility that thrives because it has the best location in the city.

Another misguided loser from the Riverside Hotel.

Pre Construction Artist's Renderings

Comment Policy Add Comment
Administrator
Reply
They've actually dropped their prices. Still a delusionally odd menu with things like pancetta spelled wrong.
Katy
Reply
You hit the nail on the head with this one. This place has become a landing spot for hotel guests who fall for the website description and don't know how to use the internet.
Administrator
Reply
Steady stream of 1 and 5 star reviews online. WHICH do YOU believe?
BC
Reply
This should have opened with great chicken sandwiches, salads, hamburgers and it would have been a smashing success. Instead of the annoying tapas mini menu. Would have been so nice to share a burger, beer and watch the boats go by. Instead this will be a nothing for a neighborhood that could use an excellent restaurant/bar on the water.
Administrator
Reply
Right, another place with a $12 chicken sandwich is what Fort Lauderdale needs
Corey
Reply
Scathing review. And pretty much my impression also.
Tim
Reply
They're still trying to pass off Toby Joseph as a Celebrity Chef. It's like they live in a bubble.
Administrator
Reply
You'd think they'd figure out after all these years that his food is a joke. Like someone is going to stay at the Riverside Hotel because of the restaurants in the hotel.
Administrator
Reply
No real announcement for this place; They probably just did a tweet and their followers are mostly their business partners, so take the early reviews with a grain of salt. Remember this is a hotel restaurant, so don't expect anything much different than their other restaurants.
Administrator
Reply
They've registered this as "Riverside Cafe", maybe they've reconsidered the original "Boathouse" name to avoid confusion with Boatyard Restaurant.

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