BEST RAW BAR - 2005
The River Oyster Bar
www.therivermiami.com The oyster selections at this urban-chic downtown seafood house vary seasonally, but their descriptions consistently read as though lifted from Wine Spectator. "Coromandel," from New Zealand, is "mildly salty from mineral-rich cold waters, smooth and sweet melon finish." "Deer Creek," from Puget Sound in Washington, is "a perfect little oyster with briny and crisp flavor." The Kitsap Peninsula's "Snow Creek" oysters are "farmed in cold, clear waters which open wide to the Straits of Juan De Fuca; firm meats with a mildly salty flavor." (All oysters are nineteen dollars per dozen, ten dollars for half.) Chilled littleneck clams, Florida stone crabs, jumbo shrimp cocktail, and a lively variety of ceviches are also dished at the raw bar. Wine selections, interestingly enough, read like an oyster menu -- well, no, we're kidding, but there are plenty of Chardonnays, sparkling wines, and other bivalve-friendly whites listed under the heading of "Lean ... Racy ... Zingy." The River's chef/partner David Bracha takes his oysters and wines very seriously, making this raw bar "crisp and refreshing, exhibiting strong notes of briny succulence and an unparalleled nose for satisfying shellfish aficionados."