Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oceanaire Seafood Room

B and I decided to take advantage of DC's Winter Restaurant Week and try the Oceanaire Seafood Room on F Street in Downtown. I read Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema's online chat each week and he has often recommended Oceanaire for its fresh seafood and interesting dining room.

Ambiance and Service

The dining room at Oceanaire is designed to look like the interior of a classic ocean liner. The booths are cozy and the walls are dotted with chalk boards listing the fresh fish and oysters available and the location where they were caught.

The experience started out on a high note for me as the host was very welcoming while I waited for B. He offered me a drink and asked if I'd like to be seated at the table (something that is increasingly rare as restaurants these days since all seem to require that every member of a party to be present before you can sit). Unfortunately, the host's charm did not wear off on the rest of the wait staff. Perhaps it was because it is Restaurant Week or maybe it was the fact that our reservation was at 9pm. Whatever the reason, the service was pretty terrible. After finding that my salad had no dressing on it, we were unable to get a server's attention for almost 10 minutes. I also received the wrong dessert and had to send it back (maybe it was me!).

The Food

We both ordered from the Restaurant Week 3-Course Menu. I started with a House Salad which arrived as bagged iceberg lettuce/carrot and cabbage slivers and no dressing. Not the most interesting salad I've ever eaten to say the least. B had a cup of clam chowder.

For our main courses, we ordered australian barramundi stuffed with crab and mahi mahi with caramelized onions and bleu cheese butter. Once again, B proved to be the better orderer as my barramundi was tasty but a combination of too many different flavors. The preparation of B's mahi mahi was more simple and allowed the fresh fish to shine. As a side dish we ordered the recommended hash browns a la Oceanaire which were good for hashbrowns but not that interesting. As you can see from the photo below, the portion size was ridiculous and the busboy admitted that nobody ever finishes the whole dish.

For dessert I had the chocolate chip cookies and milk. The cookies were nothing spectacular but I appreciated that they were warm and soft. B ordered the cheesecake which was a dry New York style topped with blackberries and strawberries.

Overall we were satisfied with the food at Oceanaire but not blown away.

Second Thoughts from B

While we both seemed to enjoy my food more than J's, I still was not overly impressed. My mahi mahi was very well prepared and the sweet warm onions mixed well with the cool bite of the bleu cheese. Unfortunately, this didn't offset the overall experience which left me feeling like Oceanaire was not a particularly enthusiastic Restaurant Week participant. If the whole point of the event is to impress and build repeat business, I think Oceanaire missed the mark, especially in a town full of great seafood.

To their credit, we did hear from Oceanaire regarding this post which you can read about here.
Oceanaire Seafood Room on Urbanspoon

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