Nothing causes a ripple through a dining room quite like a seafood tower — a veritable feast for the eyes.
Even from across the room, you can spot the curled pink shrimp, the lobster claw and the glistening oysters lolling on a bed of ice.
A staple of high-end dining, seafood towers are also popping up in casual restaurants.
One reason could be America’s love of seafood. In 2020, we consumed 2.3 billion pounds, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Raw bars are becoming more common, especially at the beach.
The rise of social media could also play a part. Food porn isn’t alluring if it isn’t attractive, and nothing makes diners grab their phone like a tower’s opulent presentation.
Modern versions draw inspiration from different ethnic cuisines.
For example, consider ceviche, crudo and sushi. Regardless, the key to a successful tower is a balance of textures and flavors.
Finding a seafood tower
Just in time for summer, here are 10 restaurants that feature a chilled seafood tower. (Call for prices as seafood costs fluctuate.)
Seafood towers are a luxury item, which is why they pair so well with steak. In downtown Wilmington, Bardea’s platter includes oysters, shrimp, lobster, yellowfin tuna and halibut.
With seafood and steak as the star attractions, you better believe this downtown Wilmington has a tower. Ingredients include tuna tartare, jumbo lump crab, shrimp cocktails and six oysters.
Chef David Leo Banks is a culinary master in the kitchen, but he lets customers have it their way at the raw bar, and the options include ceviche and tartare.
The restaurant has sizes for two or four people, and selections include raw oysters and clams, Gulf shrimp, and steamed and chilled lobster.
The family-run establishment arranges 24 oysters, 12 shrimp and a split lobster on its tower. Want more? The Poseidon includes all that plus ceviche and crudo.
This Second Street newcomer’s two tower sizes are named for landmarks in nearby Cape Henlopen State Park, a former World War II Army base.
The Observatory features 12 oysters, tuna tartar and four pieces each of clams, crab cocktail claws and shrimp cocktail.
The larger Fort Miles has 18 oysters, tuna tartar, four shrimp, and crab claws — and a split 1½-pound lobster.
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The Rehoboth-area restaurant on Route 1 calls its offering a platter, not a tower, but let’s avoid splitting hairs.
You still get a boatload of seafood, including a dozen shrimp and six each of raw clams and oysters — plus half a chilled Maine lobster.
The two sizes at the flagship location can serve 2-4 or 4-6. Choose a sushi roll to go with a chilled lobster tail, raw oysters and clams, shrimp and seaweed salad.
At this intimate, innovative Baltimore Avenue restaurant, the seafood tower for two includes oysters, shrimp, bluefin tuna tartare and scallop crudo.
Mussels and crab clusters make the difference in this Dewey Beach restaurant, the little sister to The Starboard and the soon-to-open Starboard Claw.
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