Chef/couple Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth — both “Top Chef” alums — have partnered on Stiltsville Fish Bar. It’s their second Miami restaurant (after Sarsaparilla Club) and a collaboration with Grove Bay Hospitality, which gave us the Grove’s Glass and Vine.
The seafood concept is inspired by McInnis’ childhood, growing up in Florida’s panhandle, fishing and boating in the Gulf waters, and the pair’s love of simply prepared seafood.
Located in the heart of the Sunset Harbour neighborhood, Miami Beach regulars will remember this as the old Joe Allen space. (It was more recently Pubbelly Steak). But the new incarnation bears very little resemblance to its predecessors. It has a revamped dining room that opens to Purdy Avenue and the marina across the street. Nautical fish-shack touches include a bar with beer taps made from swordfish bills, shell chandeliers and black-and-white photos of the original Stiltsville houses.
You’ll come here with
Friends who love fresh fish and strong cocktails. Or friends with kids (new parents McInnis and Booth made sure to create a kids menu that features fish and chips, a thick burger and a broccoli-flecked Mac and cheese).
And the cocktails?
Inspired by the Keys #SaltLife. Go for the Oaxacan Paradise made with mezcal, pineapple juice, lemon juice, Orgeat, and chocolate bitters. Or try the Stone Fruit Reviver made with gin, Lillet Blanc, apricot liqueur, lemon juice, and peach bitters.
Be prepared to eat
Lots of fresh fish…and fried chicken. (Jeff McInnis, who was co-creator of Yardbird, is involved after all). Several types of local fish are offered on a nightly basis, presented on ice in a claw-foot bathtub including: yellow jack, cobia, triple tail, grouper, snapper, and pompano. Prices attempt to keep things neighborhood-friendly with starters $8-$17 and mains $22-$38.
The smoked fish dip should be required ordering for every table. The spread is chock full of the catch of the day and comes with homemade saltine crackers.
After that it’s on to small plates of Sweet Corn Spoon Bread made with buttermilk cream and scallions with the option to add butter-poached lobster or the Cobia Tiradito topped with avocado, crispy hominy and popped corn, aji amarillo chili, cilantro, and lime.
Large plates focus on seafood, obviously, with the Southern-influenced Shrimp N’ Grits made with Creole sausage and The Big Fish for 2 served fried, sprinkled with Key lime and a tangy lemon basil salsa verde. But there’s plenty for non-fish eaters, such as the creamy gnudi with melted heirloom tomatoes, bone marrow-crusted N.Y. Strip and of course that famous fried chicken — this time seasoned with citrus and bay leaf.
Sides include lemonade-brined and charred broccoli, ratatouille with Yukon whipped potatoes and stone-ground local grits.
Snag a table around sunset when the dining room is bathed in glorious golden light.
Giving coastal Florida the South Beach twist, Stiltsville’s menu reaches far beyond smoked fish dip and beer.
1787 Purdy Ave., Miami Beach
First Look offers a preview of new area restaurants and is not intended to be an anonymous, critical review.