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The look of Lure’s dining room was influenced by maritime design.

Seafood Savoir Faire

by Jen Karetnick | Photography by Michael Pisarri | Miami magazine | March 6, 2014

A seemingly harmless foodie question recently came my way: “Where can you find a really good lobster roll in Miami?”

Not to brag, but I’m never stumped when I’m a guest on Restaurant Roundabout, WLRN’s call-in radio show for dining-out lovers. After 22 years of critiquing Miami eateries, I possess a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of area restaurants, yet this query had me stalling, and when you’re dealing with airwaves, one second of dead-air time equals 10 minutes of sitting at a bar with an empty glass in front of you. It shouldn’t happen.

Ask me about stone crabs and I’d be flinging names around like pennies. But lobster rolls—those chunks of shelled Maine lobster, either mixed with mayonnaise or served with drawn butter, spilling out of a toasted hot dog bun—well, those are harder to come by in the tropics.

If only I’d been asked later. You see, that evening I dined at Lure Fishbar, which serves an overstuffed Maine lobster roll that I would have been overjoyed to recommend. The blend of succulent tail and body meat, speckled with softer, pinky-red claw, mixed with high-quality mayonnaise and topped with chives, is stuffed into sweet brioche and accompanied by crisp, salt-and-vinegar fries and chopped slaw. The experience was divinely delicious intervention—too bad it was a few hours too late.

On the other hand, it’s never too late to consume a gifted take on a classic. But if you don’t want a sandwich for dinner, never fear. Maine lobster seems to be Lure’s big hook, and it appears all over the menu in various methodology. (Overseeing chef-partner Josh Capon even poses with a stuffed toy lobster in his headshot.) The sushi chefs here tempura-fry a tail and roll it up with tobiko, avocado and spicy mayo. The raw bar offers it chilled as a half or whole. And under appetizers, you can find it minced, filling golden spring rolls that you dip into an aromatic, tangy aioli that’s been doctored with cilantro and tamarind.

If you want to go the most luxe lobster route possible, however, the lobster risotto—formerly a special, now a regular menu addition—is the culinary equivalent of a Chanel handbag. It may not seem like an overly large dish at first, but it’s got everything you might require. The aptly named Capon, a friendly guy who roams the dining room to greet customers, and Executive Chef Jeff Raider poach a whole, 1 1/2-pound pound lobster in butter, then shell it and add it to the Arborio rice. The ratio of meat to grains is 2-to-1, and by the time you’re finished—if you can finish it—you’ll no doubt agree that it’s an explosion of simple good taste.

Another downtown NYC transplant brought to us by The Dutch co-owners, John McDonald and Joshua Pickard, Lure Fishbar recently took over the long-vacated Emeril’s space in the Loews hotel. The handsome dining room is fronted by a generous lobby filled with chairs and sofas—a good thing too because wait times, even for reservations, can be long. Management describes the decor as “posh nautical,” meaning that maritime materials have been influenced by affluence: not just dark woods, but teak; not simply stainless steel fixtures and detailing, but chrome and brass. A private room has a carved stone fireplace and a replica of the Queen Mary, the 1920s opulence of which influenced the design of the restaurant. The overall effect of lavishness suits the menu, which is more East Coast than it is Miami, despite the influx of local, day-boat catches.

Entrust the chefs to pick out the best stone crabs or, when they’re not in season, a quartet of the dressed oysters: one each of kushi, with a jalapeno-infused ponzu; kumamoto, with a fresh wasabi leaf and lemon; beau soleil, with pineapple salsa; and bluepoint, with, the most traditional of the bunch, shallot mignonette. Those blue- points, if you’re not a fan of the raw stuff, also come flash-fried with a caper remoulade.

In fact, you can find plenty of breaded, battered or crumbed goodness. There’s a crabcake replete with jumbo lump crab, accented by a heart of palm slaw and stone-ground mustard. Clams on the half shell come smoky with bacon, and tart with lemon-shallot butter. The only way you can go wrong at Lure is if you don’t like seafood, and, even in that case, there are options—the Asian barbecue chicken lollipops, for instance, are flavor bombs that non-fish lovers can make a meal of.

The dinner menu lightens things up a bit, which is smart, because if you’ve chosen to begin with a shellfish or sushi, you will likely be halfway to full. Make sure to leave room for the steamed red snapper, resting in a Thai red curry broth and accented with bok choy and jasmine rice, or the whole, grilled dorade, heightened with a gentle agrodolce (sweet-and-sour gastrique) and a generous handful of watercress.

Carnivores don’t need to fear Lure, however, as several meat options also tempt. If you can, slice into the seared jalapeno sirloin, which is glazed with ginger-soy and a smattering of sauteed maitake mushrooms. Order a side of ginger fried rice with this and you’re all set for an Asian fusion experience.

Desserts include a requisite, albeit delicious, Key lime pie. But if you’re looking for something a little different, dig a spoon into the Pot of Gold. Decidedly basic, and all the better for it, the “gold” refers to banana pudding, which is topped with milk chocolate mousse and features candied peanuts throughout. It might not be what you’d expect at the end of a rainbow, but it certainly should figure into the conclusion of a meal at Lure Fishbar. And it gives me the answer to yet another difficult question: Where can I find a meal that, start to finish, my whole family will find rewarding?

Lure Fishbar South Beach
Loews Miami Beach hotel, 1601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Dinner nightly, 5-11pm

Raw bar and crudos, $2-$155; specialty rolls, sushi and sashimi, $5-$21; appetizers, soups and salads, $12-$21; seafood and meat entrees, $19-$42; sides, $9; desserts, $12