Coastal Bar & Bistro, formerly Mosaic Market Bistro, is one of the eateries owned by the brother-and-sister duo of Ellen and Frank Schmitz. The pair have quite a presence on Central Avenue with Coastal and their other two projects, Bocci Bar and BARcelona Tapas, just up the block. We’ve been told the new name and concept was designed to help better differentiate Coastal from its restaurant siblings, and the ‘new’ restaurant is quite different from the rest of the stable, though equally delicious.
We visited during happy hour, and we took advantage of the happy hour menu by ordering the Fish Tacos ($8, $4 during happy hour), then from the regular Tastes menu we chose the Shrimp & Grits ($12). The fish tacos came on warm corn tortillas that struck the perfect balance between soft and crispy, with shredded cabbage, pico de gallo and lime crema on top. Shrimp and grits is one of our favorite comfort dishes, and Coastal’s version ranks right up there with some of the best we’ve had. It featured tasso ham and a creamy Creole sauce, topped with crispy fried onions. We really enjoyed Coastal’s bread service, as well: two petite homemade biscuits served in a paper bag, street-food style.
We also indulged in the two versions of Oyster Shooters ($4, $2 during happy hour) on the menu. One featured pepper vodka, oyster and cocktail sauce; and the other, tequila, oyster, lemon and a salted rim. We always find this one-shot delicacy a tasty way to enjoy fresh oysters. Despite the ‘shooter’ moniker, these weren’t boozy at all but had just enough spirits to enhance the flavor of the seafood.
Since the focus of Coastal is fresh seafood from all over, we felt a good way to get a sense of the variety of the offerings would be the Tasting Tower ($35) from the Coastal Raw Bar section. This two-tiered treat consisted of a half-dozen oysters and a half-dozen plump shrimp on ice on the bottom, with tastes of ceviche and salmon tartar on top. The ceviche was tangy with tastes of lime and cilantro, while we found the salmon nicely accented with capers and creme fraiche. There also were several choices under the Large Plates portion of the menu for guests not in a seafood mood, like Chicken and Dumplings ($17), Roasted Pork Tenderloin ($16) and Ribeye Steak ($24).
For dessert, we again went for variety and ordered a flight of Dessert Shooters ($8). These came three to an order, with a choice of seven flavors; we went with banana bread pudding, carrot cake and red velvet cake. The bread pudding was especially tasty, served warm with a rum butterscotch sauce. We also found the cream cheese frosting on the red velvet cake to be delightfully decadent.
In St. Louis, fresh seafood will always be a bit pricey, but we found the prices at Coastal to be well within the range of other fine seafood restaurants locally. Combined with a bright, colorful space and a varied menu, Coastal is definitely someplace true seafood aficionados should visit.