OK, I was hoping for some soft shell crab, but turns out they only have it for a couple of weeks in the beginning of May. I did find out though, it was a good time to visit Oceanaire because it was Devour Downtown, where many of the downtown restaurants have fixed menus for a $30.00 (and you get 3 courses). So I thought, hey, this is a perfect for Oceanaire since, a) their stuff is very pricey and b) the servings are way too big. So I ordered the set price, hubby ordered a la carte and we shared. The serving size of the devour downtown appetizer was great! Small portion of smoked salmon. Very well done. We also ordered the regular mussel appetizer which was, of course, huge. They were pretty good--not too big in individual mussel size. The shallot/white wine sauce was a little flat--needed several lemon wedge's worth of squeezes to brighten it up, then it was quite tasty. Although my favorite mussels in this City are still the ones on the bar menu at The Tavern at Bugg's Temple.
Continuing on with the set menu (you actually got to choose one of three choices for each course which was nice), I had the Dungeness crab cakes. I love Dungeness crab and having had the blue crab cakes at Oceanaire before, I had high expectations for some really meaty delicious crab cakes. However, while their blue crab cakes are that way, the Dungeness crab cakes are not. Apparently, they use all the meat from the body cavities of the crab and it is the small stringy bits. (Now, when you are eating the actual whole crab, this part is still really good, but didn't come out this way in the crab cake.) The portion was actually still quite large (2 large crab cakes). Hubby ordered the walleye done "Ritzy" style with crushed Ritz crackers. It was quite delicious (and interestingly, the only fresh water fish on the menu--apparently the chef is from Minnesota and loves walleye). I love it too. I think it is one of the best white fishes around personally.
Up til now, the service was superb and quite a difference from our last meal out at Puck's. We even had the manager at our table a couple times to check on us. And your shell bowls are constantly emptied and water is always full. However, in between entrees and dessert, things got really busy in the restaurant and service of the food slowed quite a bit. We finally ordered our dessert from the special menu and it was a strawberry rhubarb crumble with ice cream. There was way more ice cream then crumble which was unfortunate because it was hard to tell how the crumble really tasted.
I know this review sounds harsh, but I generally do like Oceanaire and the fact that the seafood is very fresh. This was definitely not my best meal, but I like that the menu is different each time, and next time I will get something else. I also really appreciate the professional service. I will do devour downtown again at Oceanaire as well because I really appreciate the smaller portions.
Oceanaire Seafood Room
30 S Meridian Street