Raw bars featuring oysters and shrimp are pretty popular in places like South Florida, especially in the Keys, where you can sit down to a shucked selection until you can’t face another shell. The Craft Food & Beverage Company in Marquee Place on West Bay Road is now offering a Raw Bar night on Thursdays, with a special menu that can vary slightly from week to week, depending on availability.
You’ll definitely see oysters like Bluepoints on the list for about $3 apiece. Order as few or as many as you like, or go with the “baker’s dozen” option that gets you 13 beauties settled nicely in some ice with cocktail sauce, a mignonette, and horseradish upon request. Of course, you’ll also get some generous wedges of lemon with that, and perhaps you’ll order a pint of one of the many beers that Craft has on tap to wash it all down.
On the day that I attended the Raw Bar, there were indeed Bluepoint oysters available, along with peel-and-eat shrimp, Hamachi sashimi and snow crab legs. The prices are pretty reasonable, particularly for the shrimp and crab legs, the latter of which are served with drawn garlic butter. Three of us went through 26 oysters, three sets of crab legs, and two orders of peel-and-eat shrimp. We also dabbled in the a la carte menu, which is still available on the night – useful if you’re on an evening out with someone who’s not a fan of seafood.
Craft is a very comfortable room, with bench seating as well as standard and high-top tables, and a large bar in the middle. The décor is quite open, and naked bulbs with open metalwork give the place a warm, gaslight feel. It’s become a popular place for people to gather after work and into the evening, as the beer menu is fairly extensive, and the cocktails are excellent. The Craft Cooler, a heady mix of vodka, elderflower, lemon, sugar cane, peach coulis, fresh basil and soda, is one of my favorite beverages there, but then all of them can be recommended, depending on what ingredients float your boat.
As Raw Bar Thursdays run from 6 to 9 p.m., you may want to consider heading to Craft for their Social Hour drink specials between 4 and 6 p.m. so you can give the cocktails a try for less, and then get stuck into the oysters. I would strongly recommend making a reservation in advance for dinner, however, as even though the Raw Bar night only started recently, word has already got about and it’s turning into one of their biggest nights.
“We’ve had a great response,” says Jason Moir, general manager of Craft, “and each week we see more and more people coming along to sample the Raw Bar menu. It’s a great healthy option, with fresh seafood that tastes fantastic.”
Craft Food & Beverage Company is in Marquee Place on the Seven Mile strip. For reservations and more information, call 640-0004 or visit their Facebook page under Craft Cayman.