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Oceanaire Seafood Room, Simple, Fresh, and Upscale Seafood Chain on 12th & F Streets NW Downtown - Owned by Landry's, Inc. in Houston


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JLK said:
It's criminal that Ceiba isn't offering the churros as a dessert choice for RW.

RW Update:

Last night had a great dinner at 1789 -- scallop ceviche "margarita," mussels, softshells, and more scallops for the lady as an entree. I told the waiter it was her birthday (which it was -- thank you, RW gods!), and her dessert (warm choco cake with the mintiest mint choco chip ice cream you'll ever have the fortune to come across) arrived with a candle and a birthday card from the staff.

Lunch at Oceanaire yesterday -- Surprise! The RW menu is dinner only (damn you, RW gods!). I just don't get the appeal of this place, unless you like feeling like you're on a loud, overcrowded ship -- if I need seafood again and can't make it to O'Learys in Annapolis, I'm heading to Kinkead's.

Strike one: the oyster po' boy looked like a package of van de camps fish nuggets dumped onto two giant pieces of puffy bread.

Strike two: the following conversation --

Me: "Where do you get your crab meat from?"

Waiter: [eyes dart side to side, shuffles a bit...] "They're a Chesapeake Bay Style crab cake, one of our most popular choices."

Lady: "They're huge! And full of meat."

Me: "Yes, but where do you get the crabs?"

Waiter: "We get them from Philips; they provide most of the crabmeat in the region."

Me: "Which is from Indonesia."

Waiter: "Yes, but it's a very large crabcake."

(Fortunately, the waiter went back to the kitchen to check and that day for some reason they had Marlyand blue crab.)

Strike three: I still didn't like the crabcake. Too much breadcrumbs and parsley edging out the crab.

With such a fat stomach and thin wallet, I decided to cancel my lunch at Vidalia tomorrow and go back to Breadline for the heirloom tomato salad and some chocolate + marscapone cookies, at half the price of a RW lunch (and no tips!).

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Maybe this should be more generic but Grover and I and our stalwart companion Mark are going to OceanAire for dinner Saturday night. We were there once before and enjoyed the lump crab cake and the diver scallops. Are we the only ones with experience at this particular restaurant? Or are there better seafood restaurants (we already know about Jerry's) in the DC and metro area?

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I have been there a few times. I particularly like the shellfish platter. It is the best in the city (the seafood is more flavorful than the Orca platter). The two entrees that stand out in mind are a sea bass that was pan roasted, and a grilled tuna. Both were impeccably fresh, and very well prepared.

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Maybe this should be more generic but Grover and I and our stalwart companion Mark are going to OceanAire for dinner Saturday night.  We were there once before and enjoyed the lump crab cake and the diver scallops.   Are we the only ones with experience at this particular restaurant?  Or are there better seafood restaurants (we already know about Jerry's) in the DC and metro area?

I would like to add more...

Our server's name was Carver and his service was splendid.

Their cole slaw was fantastic. Never had better one than this.

(maybe Vidalia's cole slaw can compete this - according to Mark)

Mark ordered cheese cake and it was big enough for 3 people.

Edited by grover
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I have been there a few times.  I particularly like the shellfish platter.  It is the best in the city (the seafood is more flavorful than the Orca platter).  The two entrees that stand out in mind are a sea bass that was pan roasted, and a grilled tuna.  Both were impeccably fresh, and very well prepared.

The Orca platter allegedly tastes better during happy hours when it is half price.

eta: The Orca platter is Old Ebbitt Grill's rendition of the seafood platter.

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux
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I have been there a few times.  I particularly like the shellfish platter.  It is the best in the city (the seafood is more flavorful than the Orca platter).  The two entrees that stand out in mind are a sea bass that was pan roasted, and a grilled tuna.  Both were impeccably fresh, and very well prepared.

I really like going to this restaurant. I agree about the shellfish platter. A bowl of soup and that make a great lunch for 2. At dinner if you order the shellfish platter, be careful about the size of the entree you choose - it will probably be too much food. And don't even think about dessert unless you split one 4 ways.

Edited by Mark Slater
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I've been to Oceanaire twice and ordered the same thing both times (boring, I know!): the seared tuna with red wine reduction and sauteed mushrooms. I order the tuna as rare as it comes and the meatiness of the fish holds up well against the accompaniments. You can also ask to receive this with pickled ginger and wasabi instead of the wine and mushrooms, but I prefer the latter. Appetizers split with others included the fried green tomatoes (wonderful crackly coating) and shrimp cocktail (great bite of horseradish in the dipping sauce). The service was professional both times.

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On Tuesday, September 19, I went to Oceanaire with some rockwellians and two of us (escoffier and I) shared the so-called "Grand Shellfish Platter." It was OK, but I felt it lacked variety, as there were only 3 or 4 ingredients to it. It's simply not as complex as those I've had at Balthazar in New York or La Coupole in Paris or Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal.
I think the only local competition for the Oceanaire shellfish platter is the Orca at Old Ebbitt (which I understand is half-price early and late). Comparing it to allegedly similar offerings at restaurants in distant cities isn't exactly helpful to the local G.U.M. Oceanaire is, after all, part of a "chain." The menu tells you that the shellfish platter comes with exactly 4 types of shellfish: oysters, shrimp, crab and lobster.
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I think the only local competition for the Oceanaire shellfish platter is the Orca at Old Ebbitt (which I understand is half-price early and late). Comparing it to allegedly similar offerings at restaurants in distant cities isn't exactly helpful to the local G.U.M. Oceanaire is, after all, part of a "chain." The menu tells you that the shellfish platter comes with exactly 4 types of shellfish: oysters, shrimp, crab and lobster.
The last time I was there it also had mussels and clams.
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I think the only local competition for the Oceanaire shellfish platter is the Orca at Old Ebbitt (which I understand is half-price early and late). Comparing it to allegedly similar offerings at restaurants in distant cities isn't exactly helpful to the local G.U.M. Oceanaire is, after all, part of a "chain." The menu tells you that the shellfish platter comes with exactly 4 types of shellfish: oysters, shrimp, crab and lobster.

The one we had did NOT have oysters. But there were a ton of tasteless mussels. And as for crabs, they were crab legs, not the same. I intend to have the Orca as soon as I can figure out how to park near Ebbitts. As for distant cities, you're right, of course, but those restaurants are my only points of comparison with that particular dish. I notice there's quite a lively discussion going on now about places in Atlanta. Make them stop, Jacques!

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A lot of restaurants in the DC area claim to have the "best" crabcakes in the city... IMHO, Oceanaire gives them a pretty good run for their money. The last experience I had here was... lackluster at best, but it was like a totally different restaurant tonight. Crabcakes may not be true Maryland crab, but they were delicious, service was top-notch, and maybe its just me but I really enjoy that they keep hot cookies and milk on the dessert menu. And theres something about being able to get a .95 Dixie Cup for dessert when the check is running 100$ per person that's nice. :o

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... The last experience I had here was... lackluster at best, but it was like a totally different restaurant tonight. Crabcakes may not be true Maryland crab, but they were delicious, service was top-notch, and maybe its just me but I really enjoy that they keep hot cookies and milk on the dessert menu....

I've had the same problem -- really good one night and near terrible on another, although the hashed browns a la Oceanaire are always good. When they have it (and, unfortunately, they usually do not) try the hamachi.

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Jlock and I had a great dinner last night.

For the past 3 years, Jlock has been pestering me to take him there, but then it never comes up because I only think of it as a business lunch place. So, when we passed by on our sight-seeing trip to the new West Elm, it occurred to me that there was no time like the present, and I am happy it did.

I had the gazpacho and the crab cakes; Jlock had the clams casino and the grilled coho salmon; and, we shared the hash browns a la oceanaire. The only clunker was the gazpacho - the rest was wonderful!

As a crabcake snob and purist, I am rarely happy with crabcakes around here as everyone wants to add their own twist, and a good crabcake needs no twist. It should be moist and full of plump, sweet crab, with just the right amount of filler to differentiate it from crab imperial without the eater ever thinking of the filler. And, it should be served with a simple mayo-based sauce. No red pepper (what is with this weird trend?), no inventive sauce, no mango (?); a good crabcake is perfection in itself and needs nothing to cover it up. Oceanaire's crabcakes are the only ones within the city that meet this standard in my opinion. They are perfect! I love them! And, I am so happy that they are large enough that there is another in my refrigerator for later!

Jlock's salmon was perfect as well. Simple, good fish, cooked perfectly to retain all of its moisture without being left raw. Absolutely wonderful!

Jlock had heard talk of the hash browns, and thus I thought that he should get to try them despite the fact that I wasn't even that hungry. He tried to assuage my apprehension about the quantity of food ordered by offering, ever so naively, that we could share one order of the the hash browns. No shit. We could share one order with the whole restaurant! Once it arrived, he understood my concern. And, why I thought he had to try them. They are so good. I literally had to pull them away from him in the end or else he would have eaten the entire order.

The clams casino were good, but the bacon overshadowed the clams a bit. If each piece of bacon were half the size, it would have been perfect. (odd how I am urging bacon restraint, especially with such nice bacon) But, it was still good.

The gazpacho was too thin for my taste, reminded me more of V8 than soup. Jlock thought it didn't have enough cucumber. I don't know; everyone has thier own idea of good gazpacho, and this just isn't mine.

The service was, in general, very good. With a bit more training in eye contact, our waiter would have been wonderful. And, he was quick to suggest that we pack up everything for leftovers. And, that we include a piece of key lime pie to go as well, a suggestion I was more than happy to take.

The crowd was not exactly what I expected. Having only gone during peak business lunch times, I was surprised by how many casual tourists were there. Maybe that's just a product of August though . . .

Overall, we were very pleased and are both quite excited by the prospect of two big bags of leftovers that will become our dinner tonight.

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This is my meal of perfection at Oceanaire (requires an accomplice): Grand Seafood Platter, followed by crabcake -either appetizer or main course size. Sides become superfluous. Dessert, out of the question. The other guilty pleasure at Oceaniare is the Fried Seafood Platter - provided you can get it lightly fried. Anything more than a cup of soup before this and you are doomed.

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Oceanaire is up to 14 national locations at this point, with 3 more on the way, and after dining there on Saturday night, I can certainly see why!

The dining room, to be honest, was a bit cliche. It was nice, but it was traditional, nothing exciting. The crowd was old, which was to be expected, but we seemed like the youngest people there by about 30 years. Not bad, just not a place to hang out at the bar. The service, unfortunately, wasn't very good either. We had two servers, one waiter and one waitress, which essentially meant that we had two people not paying attention to us, they both had severe cases of tunnel vision.

So, why did I like Oceanaire so much? It's really quite simple, the food is damn good.

The crab cake appetizer was great, so were the few bites of various salads that we ordered around the table. We had baramundi, salmon, monkfish and swordfish. Some were simply grilled and were wonderful while others were specials of the day (the baramundi had sweet onion confit and blue cheese). The plain options were better, but the specials weren't half bad either. The green beans with almonds were cooked perfectly but the hash browns a la Oceanaire stole the show, but an amazing potato dish. Even though we were full, that didn't stop the four of us from ordering three desserts - key lime pie, baked Alaska and cheesecake. The cheesecake was the best and the baked Alaska had some good components (the chocolate cake on the bottom was soggy, but the chai tea ice cream was incredible), but the key lime pie missed the mark.

All in all, the service could use an upgrade and the environment is what it is, but they make a damn good piece of fish and you could have something different every day for a month, great place to go for almost every occassion.

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I don't like chains at all. Having said that, I like The Oceanaire. As soon as you sit down, a little plate of fresh veggies, olives and pickled herring appears. Sort of a mass-produced amuse. And that crab cake is pretty darned good, as good as it gets this side of the Market Inn. I have yet to experience a bad piece of fish, all impeccably fresh, and the bar pours some pretty decent libations. I'm a member at the City Club across the street, but when I'm in the neighborhood, I have to have a crab cake at The Oceanaire....

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Calling that Hula Hoop a "hash brown" is like calling the Pacific Ocean a cup of water.

Thankfully, we were offered a half-sized portion, which is not listed on the menu. It was still huge, but we were actually able to at least contemplate eating the whole thing between the two of us in hopes of becoming contestants on the Biggest Loser. In the end, however, we were only able to finish about half of it.

By the way, have they changed the sauce for the crabcakes or were we just given the wrong one? There was wasabi in that sauce - a shame, but the cakes were still good without it.

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Had a fantastic dinner at Oceanaire last night - the Grand Seafood platter, swordfish steak, and an addictive tin roof sundae.

And those hashbrowns a la Oceanaire... I'm not normally a hashbrown kind of guy (too many other great choices) but after reading about them on this site we gave it a whirl... my God they are like crack. I'm not sure why I was expecting some sort of cheesy concoction, more of a hashbrown casserole, but what came was a crisp cake-ish giant round of hashbrowns with onion and great seasonings - definately will order again.

Service was outstanding, and all washed down with great bottle(s) of the 2004 Quintessa Cabernet that was recommended by a companion.

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Thankfully, we were offered a half-sized portion, which is not listed on the menu. It was still huge, but we were actually able to at least contemplate eating the whole thing between the two of us in hopes of becoming contestants on the Biggest Loser. In the end, however, we were only able to finish about half of it.

The small-sized portion is on the menu now ($4.95), and my young dining companion and I were also only able to finish half of that (*).

I'm not a big fan of the pickled herring platter Oceanaire serves as a (compliementary) appetizer - other than the herring, which is doused in ice, the condiments look like something you'd find at a Safeway salad bar.

Complaining about a free item might sound petty, until I mention the fact that an a la carte piece of farm-raised Fresh Canadian King Salmon was $36.95. Think about that. Nearly forty dollars for a single piece of farm-raised salmon, with nothing else on the plate except a pitcher of fantastic tarragon-butter sauce. Okay, now IF you can accept that much money for such a dish, you might just be glad you ordered it: The fish is a thick, generously cut piece, skin-on at the bottom, and was cooked perfectly at the requested medium, the grill marks on top making it even more appealing.

I had my first Carolina Shad Roe ($27.95) of 2009 here last night, a double lobe, cooked just right, and served with strips of bacon and a few spears of asparagus on a little glisten of butter-based sauce with some lemons for squeezing. Really, both of these entrees were as good as anything I've ever had from Oceanaire. Two outsized pours of Muscadet ($9) were served in good stemware, and our server was excellent.

Despite how expensive Oceanaire is, the place was packed. Rather than wait for a booth, we both chose to sit in a tiny little side room I didn't even know existed, with only about six tables in it.

Cheers,

Rocks.

(*) The second half, along with a quarter-round of Oceanaire's good sourdough bread, was enjoyed this morning with a Beecher's Cheddar omelet made with liberal amounts of Vermont Butter & Cheese Company butter mmmmm.

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Just got back from Oceanaire a little bit ago. As Rocks pointed out, I was shocked at how full it was as well considering the prices. Good for them! We arrived 15 minutes or so early for our mid-week reservations and were asked to wait at a fairly full bar.

Between the four of us we had crab cakes, Shrimp de Jonghe, and Oysters Rockefeller and Panamanian big eye tuna (both sashima-style and grilled between two of us), grouper, and Alaskan king crab legs.

Everyone raved about what they ordered and not a bad word was said about any of the selections. The only thing I didn't love was the creamed corn, which was a bit (or a lot) creamier than I prefer my creamed corn. Still pretty good though.

Would I go back on my own dime? No, probably not. It was quite expensive and I'm not 100% certain that it was worth the price we paid. On someone else's dime (as it was tonight)? It'd definitely be in the running.

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Everyone raved about what they ordered and not a bad word was said about any of the selections. The only thing I didn't love was the creamed corn, which was a bit (or a lot) creamier than I prefer my creamed corn. Still pretty good though.

Would I go back on my own dime? No, probably not. It was quite expensive and I'm not 100% certain that it was worth the price we paid. On someone else's dime (as it was tonight)? It'd definitely be in the running.

I had lunch last week on another's dime and would like to add my support for the crabcake. The best I've had in DC or Baltimore. I've only had better in New Orleans, but that should be no surprise. The reason it's so good, IMHO, is that it's very crabby with huge chunks.

I also had the creamed corn and it is very creamy but I LOVED IT! There is nothing healthy about that corn but OMG it was fantastic. Again, quite creamy, but if you like unhealthy creamed corn, this might be your place. Finally, they did NOT overcook the asparagus.

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I also had the creamed corn and it is very creamy but I LOVED IT!

The Oceaniare creamed corn has become a must-have at all of our family's holiday meals (we got the recipe from a magazine in Minneapolis that will track down restaurant recipes). The "secret" ingredient, as it usually is, is nutmeg (the nutmeg, some leeks, and a lot of cream is pretty much the dish). The advantage to making it at home, obviously, is that you can cook it down to a consistency that's just to your liking (I think Treznor would be pleased with our chosen degree of creaminess.)

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Does anyone know the specifics on the happy hour here? I'm looking for what's offered and for what times. Thx.

it's been a few moons since i've been there, but as i recall, it is half-priced oysters 'tween 3 and 6p. no other food or beverage specials. that said, there are usually 8-10 "varieties" to choose and kumos are not uncommon.

show your face more than a few times between lunar cycles and you'll surely get some love (at the bar, at least). say hi to fluffy.

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Had a quick pre-theater (Jersey Boys) dinner at Oceanaire last night with significant other, and all I can say is two thumbs up. First, we let the host know we were in a bit of a hurry -- we had just under an hour -- and the wait staff could not have been more attentive and gracious. Next, I love the freebies here -- that quarter loaf of good sour dough bread and the plate of fresh veggies and pickled herring. Next, we both ordered a crabcake appetizer, and regardless of where the crab comes from, this is a darned good crabcake with less than 5% filler. Next, we both ordered the mussels appetizer, a mound of about two dozen mussels swimming in a lemon butter broth that was fresh, tasty and substantial, for $9.95 a serving. Each portion came with two large buttered and grilled slices of garlicky bread to sop up the broth. We were comfortably full, extremely satisfied and out of there in about 45 minutes. With a $50 bottle of DeLoach chardonnay and tax and a very generous tip, the total was just about $120 for two of us.

I generally avoid chains, and I only go to McCormick and Schmick if someone else is buying, but this place is on my short list of seafood restaurants downtown. I love the service here, and in briefly scanning the menu I saw a number of come-back-for items, like the two different caviar services (28 ounces of Osetra for $80). When I saw the fresh oysters listed on the wall and coming around to the tables all around me, I was tempted to overindulge. There are not many better restaurants within a two block walk of the National Theater -- although Bluepoint caught my eye -- and as far as an all around evening of food and entertainment is concerned, last night could not have been any better.

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Went before Fiddler at National Theater last week and were quite happy with our decision. The cocktails were perfectly made, the staff was friendly and knowledgeable and helpful, the booth was comfortable, the service was outstanding and the fish was delicious. I had scallops, Pooch had monkfish. Total was $165 with drinks and tip.

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I grabbed a bite to eat at the bar. The price was very reasonable and I am still drooling, thinking about the crabcake sliders this morning. Sweet, perfectly seasoned jumbo lumps with so little fillers that it was having trouble staying in cake form. Our server was friendly, but he must be new since he would stand in front of the monitor and not sure which button to push.

http://www.theoceanaire.com/menus/DC/DC_BarD_Menu.pdf

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18 hours ago, Bob Wells said:

Just had a business lunch at Oceanaire. The sourdough bread is outstanding. The seafood -- very good and very expensive. I had the Colossal Crabmeat Cocktail ($19) and the Simply Grilled Swordfish ($34). Were it not for the bread, I'd be going out for a snack already.

Not that this is "bad," but boy is this an insidious business plan.

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