535 Third Avenue, near 36th Street, Murray Hill, (212) 213-8552
Getting There: 6 to 33rd Street, 4,5,6,7, S at Grand Central Station
A hankering for some fresh seafood and a raw bar is relatively difficult to satisfy in Manhattan without paying an arm and a leg. Murray Hill’s own Wild Edibles is unfortunately no exception, even though the restaurant itself was an afterthought to what doubles as a seafood market place. With a business philosophy of providing customers exactly what they want, when they want it, the restaurant’s cooking has a long way to go to match the retail produce being sold.
Wild Edibles’ restaurant space acts like a charming bistro, with countertop seats adjacent to the fresh packaged seafood of the day and small, packed in tables for walk-in customers. After being seated quickly by the simultaneous bartender and food-runner, we began our meal with the crispy fried calamari ($11.99), which was excellently crisp and deliciously salted. The generous portion of squid was complimented by a creamy chipotle aioli and a not overly sweet red marinara sauce, and was an ideal starter for our dinner. Admittedly, we gazed around the room as fresh, raw oysters were served by the piece to different tables. Ranging anywhere from $2 to $2.99 each, Wild Edibles does feature 15 different east and west coast oysters, rather unique for New York City.
Restaurant Review: Wild Edibles
The entrée menu offers a seafood bar that allows for full customer customization, with prices differing by type of seafood. From catfish to tilapia, salmon to swordfish, even black cod to striped bass, Wild Edibles has no shortage of options. They also allow you to choose a seasoning for each fish (fresh herbs and olive oil, ginger lime, balsamic, miso, and chipotle-orange), which lets you pan roast your meal any way you like it. Feel like you can’t decide with all of these choices? Fear not, as the restaurant has an entrée menu of chef selections- shrimp and bowtie pasta with vodka sauce ($19.99), Scottish salmon with fresh arugula and polenta ($24.99), and shrimp scampi over linguini ($21.99)- are some notable dishes.
We opted for the macadamia crusted mahi-mahi ($21.99), served on a bed of quinoa, with an orange vinagrette demiglaze. The portion itself was satisfactory, but the dish lacked flavor and left what could best be described as a “blah” taste in our mouth. Moreover, the seared scallops ($22.99), served with smoked onions and over a bed of spinach and a warm bacon vinaigrette dressing was generously sized (a whopping 8 scallops!). The dish was admirably prepared, but we question the decision to utilize spinach as the base of the meal, considering it seemed like we dropped $23 on a salad.
All in all, Wild Edibles the restaurant is an adequate eatery. Again, we did not taste any of the fare from the raw bar, nor the lobster roll ($24.99). And while we can’t complain about the portion sizes, the value that we received for the prices we were charged quite simply did not match up. Wild Edibles is a restaurant that we have looked in and walked passed for over a year, but had every intention of giving it a shot. Unfortunately until something changes, that shot will likely have been one and done.