Consider the lobster. It's just one of many items typically found on an iced seafood tower. Yes, that staple of '90s dining has always been a fixture at steakhouses, but the collection of oysters, shrimp, crab and more is having a bit of a resurrgence at some of 2014's hottest new bars and restaurants.
Liberty Kitchen and Oysterette executive chef Travis Lenig, who serves both $65 and $140 iced seafood platters, has a theory about why the dish has become so popular recently. "(It) offers a variety of seafood and a great way for guests to interact with their group and a way to splurge on a visually exciting menu item while enjoying the fruits of the sea," he writes in an email.
Looking for something more decadent? Chef/owner Mark Holley's three-tier "Holleywood" tower includes two ounces of Royal Siberian caviar and two bottles of Delamonte Brut champagne.
Whatever one's price point, Houston restaurants have options. At only $49, Midtown seafood restaurant Reef wins the award for best value.
"We don't make a lot of money on it," chef/owner Bryan Caswell explains. "In order for something like that to be successful, it's got to move."
Looking for something a little more decadent? Over at Holley's, chef/owner Mark Holley's three-tier "Holleywood" tower includes two ounces of Royal Siberian caviar and two bottles of Delamonte Brut champagne for an eye-popping $400. Of course, someone could put together a tower-style tasting from Holley's selection of oysters, ceviches, crudos and raw items, but that wouldn't be as much fun.
Find even more options below with recommended beverage pairings. Happy eating and drinking.
Caracol: Ceviche Acapulqueno, 1/2 dozen roasted oysters with chipotle butter, 1/2 dozen raw oysters, 2 bay scallop shells filled with scallop ceviche, 1 stone crab claw. 2 pieces King Crab, 1 long and 1 small, 2 shrimp, small Brazilian lobster tail, Salsa Bruja and cocktail sauce, Chocolata clams (as available), $80.
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse: 2 jumbo stone crab claws, 4 jumbo shrimp, 4 oysters on the half shell, 1/2 lbs of Alaskian king crab legs, $77 or double for $148. Recommend pairings, Pighin pinot grigio, $11/glass; Cakebread chardonnay 2012, $109/bottle; Veuve Clicquot, $93/bottle.
Eleven Eleven: 12 East Coast oysters, 5 Gulf shrimp cocktail, 1 whole chilled lobster, 1 king crab leg, $80. Or, 18 East Coast oysters, 10 Gulf shrimp cocktail, 2 whole chilled lobster, 2 king crab leg, $150. Recommended pairing: Delamotte NV Blanc de Blancs or French 75 cocktail.
Holley's: 2 oz. Royal Siberian caviar and crabmeat & corn blinis, 18 Blue Point oysters with spicy ponzu sauce and escabeche mignonette, 2, 3.75 bottles Delamonte Brut Champagne, 12 Creole boiled Gulf shrimp with horseradish cocktail sauce, 12 baked clams casino, 12 Florida stone crab claws, 4 oz. seafood campechana, $400.
Julep: 1 1/2 lb lobster, half Dungeness crab (seasonal), 6 snow crab claws, 1/2 lb cold boiled shrimp, 6 oysters, marinated bay scallops, marinated fluke with meyer lemon and sea salt, serrano and garlic aioli, cocktail sauce, fresh grated horseradish, champagne vinegar mignonette and lemons, 1 bottle “La Guita” manzanilla sherry, $120.
Liberty Kitchen & Oysterette: 6 oysters, 4 jumbo shrimp, 6 clams, 1/2 lobster, Lulu's seafood salad, $65. Or 12 oysters, 8 jumbo shrimp, 12 clams, 1/2 lobster, tuna poke, daily sushi, king crab legs, Lulu's seafood salad, $140. Recommend drink pairing, Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut, $18.
Prohibition: 12 Gulf oysters, variety of East coast oysters, smoked oysters, lobster and green mango salad, tuna poke, shrimp cocktail, mignonette, pickled horseradish, cocktail sauce, Half order, $65; Full, $110. Recommended beverage pairing: Shrub Collins cocktail.
Reef: 6 oysters, 6 shrimp shooters, blue crab claws, kinilaw ceviche, seaweed salad, chili mango shrimp salad, migionette, cocktail sauce and mustard sauce, $49. Recommend beverage pairing: Delamotte by Salon.
Vallone's: 4 East Coast oysters, 4 jumbo Gulf shrimp, Maine baby lobster, colossal lump crabmeat, housemade remoulade, mignonette, and cocktail sauces, $95. Recommended pairings: Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut and Unibroue La Fin Du Monde.