6 Chefs Creek Oysters, 6 James River Oysters, Lemon, Fresh Horseradish, Strong Cocktail Sauce, Mignonette
Crab Cakes, Shaved Kale Slaw, Herb Aioli, Lemon
Calamari “Fries”, Sriracha Aioli, Sweet Soy, Crushed Peanuts, Chives
Pan Roasted P.E.I. Mussels, Onion, Fennel, Bacon, Beer, Butter, Grilled Garlic Bread
Fish & Chips with Loup De Mer, Steak Fries, Lemon, Malt Vinegar Aioli, Strong Cocktail Sauce, Ketchup
All In Classic Pan Roast with Tomato, Cream, Brandy, Shrimp, Crab, Lobster, White Rice
Shrimp Scampi, Housemade Linguini, Garlic Bread Crumbs, Italian Parsley
San Francisco Style Cioppino with Crab, Clams, Fish, Red Potatoes, Grilled Garlic Bread
Heath Bar Crunch Cake, Chocolate Ganache, Salted Toffee
Vanilla Bean Cupcake, Vanilla Custard, Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Opened in February 2017, and doing big numbers despite limited seating ever since, it was as a party of three that seats were taken at Oyster Bar Friday evening, a dozen freshly shucked Bivalves and eight menu selections attesting to quality sourcing plus a hands-on approach that sees everything including Bread and Pasta made in The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino kitchens.
Originally concepted by Marcus O’Brien and Derek Litzinger, but now under the direction of Executive Chef Bradley Manchester and his team soon to be part of Virgin Hotels, it is abutting the gaming floor that guests will find a U-shaped bar still harboring lots of polish, a team of four including one waitress tending to everything in plain view while Hard Rock’s mix of old and new music plays at a comfortable volume overhead.
Focused on Raw Bar Standards and Pan Roasts, plus several twists on Seafood classics, it was following Beverages and six Oysters from each coast that two generously portioned Crab Cakes arrived next to housemade Slaw and Aioli, an array of Herbs complimenting sweet Meat well while Calamari “Fries” see Cephalopod cooked tender and brightened by Sriracha and Soy with textured added by Peanuts.
Told by one of Oyster Bar’s Chefs that Roasted P.E.I. Mussels were “life changing,” a bit of hyperbole though the briny Broth built from Butter and Beer with Licorice-notes did necessitate a second order of Garlic Bread to sop up all the goodness, it is using Branzino that Hard Rock’s Fish & Chips outpaces many while Malt Vinegar Aioli with a texture like Mayonnaise serves double duty as dip for Fries and an alternative to the classic brown liquid.
Moving on to Pan Roast, this and two additional plates divided into thirds by staff, suffice it to say that good Seafood makes a big difference in any setting and that is precisely what is offered whether one selects Tomatoes with Cream and Brandy over Rice, San Francisco Fish Soup or garlicky Shrimp with ribbons of Pasta.
Not a space doing big volume for Dessert, though sweets from Pastry Chef Mickey Harden are available by request, it is taking notes from Hershey’s 1914 classic that Heath Bar Crunch Cake performs beautifully, while on this particular evening Triple Vanilla Cupcakes also made it fairly safe to assume Mickey makes an outstanding Wedding Cake.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS: Located near the doors and proper ventilation, the gaming floor’s smoke imperceptible from any of the high-backed, comfortable seats, Oyster Bar at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino continues to outperform expectations thanks to quality ingredients, fair prices and a no-shortcuts approach that sees everything including Bread and Pasta made in house.
RECOMMENDED: Pan Roasted P.E.I. Mussels, Fish & Chips, All-In Pan Roast, Shrimp Scampi, Heath Bar Crunch Cake.
TIP: Sunday – Thursday 5:00PM – 11:00PM, Friday – Saturday 11:00AM – 1:00AM. Seating is first come, first serve and there is likely to be a wait during peak hours.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.