Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Casablanca on the Bay

In real estate, the biggest seller is “Location, Location, Location."  For my recent adventure, I have to say the deal sealer is View, View, View." Casablanca on the Bay, which opened just over six months ago and is situated in the Retail Gallery Level of the Doubletree by Hilton Grand Hotel Biscayne Bay, at 1717 North Bayshore Drive, is the seafood sequel to Casablanca Seafood Bar & Grill, located on the Miami River.  

Serving fresh, local seafood caught fresh daily, diners can actually watch television monitors at the bar transmitting footage of the fishermen as they do their deed. Between watching the journey of how the main characters of their meal reach their plates, guests are treated to an impressive view of the bay, not only from its outdoor terrace but from just about any seat in the house. The floor to ceiling glass doors merge the outdoors with the indoors, creating a romantic, awe-inspiring setting.

Tuna Nikkei
Conch Fritters
As we looked through our menus, we indulged in the complimentary Smoked Grouper Dip served with tri-color chips. It was very tasty and reminded me of the fish dip they served guests back in the day in the old East Coast Fisheries. Remember them? This one was just as addicting. We kicked off our dinner with several appetizers. Casablanca offers a variety of ceviches and tiraditos from their raw bar, and being a sucker for this lip-puckering favorite, I had to give one a try.  Instead of going for the more common ceviches (or tuna tartar), I showed restraint and will power and chose the Tuna Nikkei. This plate was a colorful explosion of chunks of tuna marinated in orange citrus cilantro and drizzled with Teriyaki sauce and aji limo, then topped with onion and crispy tortilla strips. It was a nice combination of light and refreshing. We also ordered the Conch Fritters. They were pretty straight forward and were served with a tangy cocktail sauce. 

Grilled Octopus
At this point, we noticed there was Grilled Octopus on the menu. I've been on an intense octopus frenzy lately so we decided to try it. The texture was excellent and it sat on a yellow pepper aioli, with roasted cherry tomatoes. Nice. I should tell you at this point that we came on a Wednesday and Casablanca has an awesome Happy Hour special on Wednesdays where you can have free oysters with any alcoholic drink purchase from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Hazel, our waitress, brought us over some of the slippery suckers and we went to town with them.

Free Oysters on Wednesdays during Happy Hour
 with the purchase of an alcoholic drink.

Whole Fried Hog Snapper
Twin Stuffed Florida Lobster Tails
We had quite a selection of items to begin our meal but moved smoothly into our entrees. After some thought, we decided on the Whole Fried Fish and the Twin Stuffed Florida Lobster Tails. I loved the fun presentation of both of these dishes. The Whole Fried Hog Snapper was very lean, had a delicate texture and a mild taste balanced by slightly sweet undertones. The twin lobster tails looked like they were kissing on the plate. They were stuffed with a crab, shrimp, and scallop mix that added another pleasant flavor profile to the buttery delight.

Once we were finished, Hazel walked over to our table with a tray of desserts. I guess she didn't know this would be the most difficult decision of the night for me. They all looked so decadent! I knew we wouldn't be able to have two because we were borderline exploding at this point, so we went for the homemade Guava Cheesecake. Creamy, sweet and divine, I closed my eyes and savored every spoonful.

Homemade Guava Cheesecake
One thing I noticed in most of the dishes at Casablanca on the Bay was that the flavors were generally subtle, not bold or daring. However, while the preparation tends to be traditional , the menu offers an ample range of choices and the crisp, freshness of the ingredients undoubtedly stand out. Service was top notch and the ambiance was very relaxing.  For more information, visit their website at http://www.casablancaseafood.com

Casablanca on the Bay on Urbanspoon

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