STILL HOOKING BIG CATCHES
The Renovated Oystercatchers | By Mary D. Scourtes
Oystercatchers’ top-to-bottom, $4 million renovation and clean, crisp look will easily hook you. An abundance of natural materials, awe-inspiring sunset views, and snazzy new bar add to the fun.
In the shadow of Tampa International Airport, the twenty-something year old restaurant is well suited for travelers from both sides of the bay. It’s easy to catch up with friends over freshly shucked Blue Point and Pacific Orchard oysters.
Chef de cuisine Kenny Hunsberger features local and line-caught fish right from the gulf, on the large menu. There is plenty to choose with lots of sautéed, grilled and blackened seafood. Match it with one of Hunsberger’s Scotch bonnet pepper sauce or mango-lime leaf chutney.
The open kitchen attracts attention and allows guests to view the nimble hands of line cooks tending to the fish on the grill. Hunsberger kept a few signature items on his new menu. Guests would have missed the lightly battered calamari fries, soaked in buttermilk and right on target with peppery, Worcestershire ketchup.
The lump crab cakes, eliciting a “best ever’’ response, seem to be all crab and are even more delightful with a papaya relish and sautéed mustard greens.
Celebrating a major milestone? Consider reserving the special occasion dining room accommodating up to four-dozen guests. Chefs will happily prepare salads and appetizers tableside, says Jennifer Chamoun, food and beverage supervisor. The special menus start at $75 per person, before wine.
Chamoun also praises Oystercatchers’ Sunday Brunch. Her favorite dish is a light, fresh salmon poke, similar to a ceviche. She recommends the brunch for the chef’s sushi, artisan cheese station, and risotto stationwhere lobster risotto is a hit.
For dinner, enjoy the plump, sweet sea scallops with key lime caper butter. Taste the sweet pompano cooked in parchment paper or a cashew nut-crusted snapper fillet. The paella is a veritable seafood feast with langoustines, scallops and shrimp, along with fresh artichoke hearts.
Landside choices include homemade fettuccini smothered in porcini mushrooms and a fork-tender Hereford filet, topped with a garlic confit. Shaved parmesan and fragrant anchovies turn romaine leaves into a memorable caesar salad. It’s just right with the sour dough bread, which comes with sweet butter and smoked alder wood sea salt.
Creamed spinach with nutmeg, bok choy with sesame oil and roasted root vegetables make festive sides. Sweet endings close a memorable meal with a key lime parfait with flamed meringue and a cinnamon crème brulee.
Dinner typically costs around $65 per person before a selection from Oystercatcher’s extensive wine list.
Oystercatchers in Tampa’s Grand Hyatt
2900 Bayport Drive, Tampa
Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Mon.-Sat.
and 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sun.
Dinner: 6-10 pm. Mon.-Sun.
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