By Michelle Payer | Photographs by Ricardo Mejia
A Mix from the Med
Dock and dine or drive, but somehow find your way to Boathouse at the Riverhouse and get your fill of truly authentic Mediterranean goodness.
Along the serene banks of the New River, where rum runners would soundlessly carry liquid contraband during the Prohibition Era, a new restaurant has emerged at the storied Riverside Hotel. Dubbed Boathouse for its historical ties and ability for patrons to dock and-dine, the bright, airy indoor/outdoor eatery takes full advantage of its river-side locale and has eschewed a heavy menu in favor of light, shareable Mediterranean tapas. “Mediterranean cuisine is more than hummus and gyros; it’s food from Spain, Italy, Southern France, Greece, Morocco, Israel and so on,” says Executive Chef Toby Joseph. “For this menu, I’m incorporating all the coastal areas and really showing people what this cuisine is all about using fresh ingredients and unique bold flavors you can’t get anywhere else in the area,” adds Chef Joseph, who works alongside culinary sister team Chef de Cuisine Alia Asher and Pastry Chef Annabel Asher Solly. The impressive Boathouse Board ($16) features such recognizable choices as Serrano Ham, Duck Prosciutto, Spanish Chorizo, Emmental, Feta and Manchego cheeses, plus lesser-known charcuterie options including Guanciale (an Italian cured meat made from pork cheeks), Labneh (a tangy, thick yogurt cheese) and Haloumi cheese, which, Joseph points out, aren’t your typical charcuterie options. With a menu designed for sharing, the possibilities are limitless for friends to try new dishes and flavor combinations. Chef Joseph has a hard time selecting a favorite, but says he loves the Pickled Mussels, which begins with steaming open the fresh mussels in a pot of boiling water. The kitchen team then picks out the meat, sets it aside and uses the leftover stock to form the base of a flavorful pickling liquid that includes sherry vinegar, paprika, chives, salt, orange zest, rosemary and parsley. He pours this concoction over the mussels, covers the dish and lets it marinate in the refrigerator for at least three hours before serving them firm, yet still soft, with red pepper mayo and fried crostini. “Pickling the mussels really gives this dish well-balanced flavors,” says Chef Joseph. “You get the vinegar notes from pickling, a little sweetness, saltiness and a touch of acidity.”. If you’re more in the mood for classic, recognizable, comfort dishes, Boat house doesn’t disappoint with its Boathouse Classics ($10 to $16) that include Oven Roasted Wings garnished with smoked paprika and balsamic caramelized onions; Spiced Oven-Baked Baby Back Ribs, and Serrano Pizza served with sundried tomatoes, almond pesto, fresh mozzarella, arugula and shaved Manchego cheese. A few “must-have” selections from the Hot Tapas list ($6-$18) are Duck Fat Potatoes with chimichurri and aioli, Paella Negra with octopus, mussels and chorizo, Herb-Crusted Lamb Chop with charred endive, heirloom tomato and mint, Beef Kibbeh with hummus, and the Fennel Pollen Bronzini served with dill-cucumber yogurt, charred spring onion and watermelon radish. “I’m bringing something different to the area and tapas are a fun way to share food in a social setting,” says Chef Joseph. If only the rum runners had waited a hundred years.
Executive Chef Toby Joseph
Kale Guacamole with housemade flatbread crisps
Compressed Cantaloupe with Serrano Ham
Petite Nicoise Salad with a Bloody Mary
Boathouse at the Riverside offers 102 seats outside and 52 inside, including a 35-seat indoor-outdoor bar lounge for 5,573 square feet of combined restaurant and dock space. The restaurant is open for lunch at dinner from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., with seating on a first-come, first-served basis.
It is located at 620 Southeast 4th Street, Fort Lauderdale, 954.377.5494; visit boathouseriverside.com.