When it was first announced that Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth of Top Chef were opening a new restaurant inside the old PB Steak space, we started counting the days until its arrival. Now that it’s officially open for business, we’re happy to report that Stiltsville Fish Bar was well worth the wait.
If you haven’t figured it out by the name, Stiltsville’s main focus is seafood — and there’s a lot of it. Don’t worry, meat-eaters: You have plenty of choices, too. Snacks and small plates make up a good portion of the menu, and these sections feature some traditional-sounding bites alongside some not-so-traditional fare; both types deserve your attention.
It’s hard to get excited about something like Smoked Fish Dip, but McInnis and Booth manage to perk up your taste buds with the freshest of local catches (cobia, in our case), house pickles, thyme and some butter toasted saltines. There’s not much to it, but it’s damn tasty. Other plates like the Green Eggs & Ham — green deviled eggs, crispy country ham and pickles — are packed with flavor. The blend of fresh herbs that gives the eggs their playful color also serve to enhance every bite.
Crispy “Coconut Shrimp” is a must here. The Katafi-wrapped crustacean with roasted coconut and key lime just melts in your mouth and has a sweetness to it that almost made it taste like lobster. It’s so good that you’re going to want to order a second helping (do it). For something with a little more kick, opt for the Cobia Tiradito, whose mix of salt and spice makes for a palate-pleaser.
Other highlights include the Buffalo Fish Wings and Smokin’ Havana Scallop. The wings can be tricky to eat at first — we had no clue where to start — but once you do figure them out or ask for help, they and the buffalo sauce are a match made in heaven. The scallops are basically Miami on a plate; it’s a dish that includes Cuban tobacco-smoked plantain and crispy ham chips. Everything had us smacking our lips.
With so many cool-sounding dishes, we wouldn’t blame you if the sound of Wood-Grilled Oysters fails to impress. But trust us: You’re going to want these. The greenneck butter alone is worth the sticker price. Scoop the oyster onto the charred sourdough and drizzle that sauce everywhereeeeeee.
You could make a meal out of just appetizers and small plates, but then you’d be missing out on the restaurant’s signature daily catches and sides. We had the black group and amberjack, and they were both great. What really surprised us, though, were the sides. Reading the sides list will have you salivating and rightfully so with delicious items like Sweet Plantain “Mofongo” Bacon & Garlic Sofrito and Lemonade Brined & Charred Broccoli.
And if you still have room afterward, there’s the Chocolate Pavlova with Passion Fruit Ice Cream and Coconut Key Lime Pie to put you into a wonderful food coma. Also, don’t forget to try out one of the restaurant’s many refreshing cocktails like the Oaxacan Paradise, a mezcal-rum concoction that we could see ourselves drinking poolside. Hats off to Stiltsville for a stellar non-alcoholic cocktail list, too; their Grapefruit & Gin Fizzler is something else.
Based on our dinner experience, we’re not surprised to see the restaurant full day in and day out. Any time we walk by, the place is slammed and we’ve already seen a fair share of familiar faces. Stiltsville’s popularity isn’t just due to natural curiosity (“Oh hey, let’s check out this new restaurant.”). That may be the initial draw, but it’s the awesome food that keeps customers — and soon, you — coming back.