Established in 1997, 316 Oyster Bar & Seafood Grill is one of Fayetteville’s best-known and best-loved seafood restaurants. Located at 316 Owen Drive, the menu sets the tenor for what you can expect by proudly proclaiming “shopping coastal markets daily to bring their customers the freshest fish available.”
   From mahi-mahi to grouper to red snapper — 316 Oyster Bar & Grill offers an extensive seafood selection. It’s especially famous for its top-of-the-line oysters, hence the name.
   {mosimage}The building, inside and out, displays a unique style: lofty palm trees and glowing overhead velvet lights offer a retro dining experience and charming ambiance. Leather booths wrap stylishly around the edges of the room, though I took my seat at one of the more centrally located tables. The comfortable, laid-back atmosphere and the restaurant’s artsy midnight, scarlet, and neon accents make it an out-of-the ordinary dining experience. Adding to the atmosphere is a nonsmoking area for those of you who can’t tolerate tobacco plumes with your talapia.
   A long list of appetizers includes oyster Rockefeller — oysters tipped with spinach and bacon; alligator bites — spicy alligator nibblers with a tangy sauce; and, perhaps the restaurant’s signature dish ... raw oysters on the half shell, served by the half-dozen or dozen. For those of you who desire something a little less intense to start your meal, crispy golden chicken fingers are also available in a number of styles. The portioning was just enough to keep me satisfied until the entrees were delivered.
   I enjoyed the distinctive Cajun flavoring found in the restaurant’s seasonal shrimp and sausage gumbo — a seafood and meat soup that includes celery, tomato and okra. My server, James, graciously brought out a sample and I was so impressed I decided to order a cup with my entrée. I just so happen to be a gumbo person, so this won my vote for best menu item.
   A signature entrée is the restaurant’s seafood grill  a savory combination of shrimp, scallops and salmon (grilled or blackened), which mixes well with the restaurant’s fresh leafy salad.
   The lobster grill is not only fresh, but has an outstanding, tender texture and added spices, such as garlic, Cajun, and black pepper. Can I have seconds?
   Other items that can be found “swimming” around on the menu are filet mignon, black angus beef rib eye and lobster fettuccini, as well as various entrées offering a combination of two or three seafood options. Items across the menu are a little above average in pricing, but the delectable entrees, portions, environment, and staff make the experience rise above the cost.
   The service far exceeded expectations — gregarious, attentive and quick to replenish my drinking glass.
   Because of the diversity of people who gather at 316, it’s a particularly pleasant place to take guests from out of town — especially if your guests love seafood. And if you’re so inclined, be sure to treat yourself to a drink from the full-service bar; specialties include a Cosmotini — a martini concocted with vanilla Stoli, Grand Marnier, cranberry juice and a squeeze of orange. The selection of beer on tap is especially diverse. And for those of you who are a bit daring, the Rooster Shooter is calling your name: a shot of raw oysters, beer and horseradish. If you can knock down this incredibly intense shot, you can leave with the glass in hand.
   In short, 316 Oyster Bar & Seafood offers an attentive, friendly and knowledgeable staff serving some of the best seafood you’ll find.
   I cannot wait to dive in again!

Contact Victoria Alexander at tim@upandcomingweekly.com
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