Friday, January 23, 2009

Oceanaire-a revisit



I don’t know, but I think the bloom is off the rose here a bit. When we first moved here, I was very happy to find this place—the staff seemed really enthusiastic and there were often changes being made to the menu. And the seafood was really, really fresh. And even the stand-by items were really good.

Recently, on my birthday no less, we ventured to Oceanaire for dinner (my birthday was on a Monday and there weren’t a lot of options for going out as most places were closed). Now, if you have read my previous blog posts about Oceanaire, you know one of my biggest pet peeves about this place is the ridiculous portion sizes. Why does everything have to be so over the top? Maybe there is some link between such things and why so many Americans are so oversized themselves? I’m just saying.

We had the Oceanaire Chopped salad to share (between FOUR people). I like this salad though—it has lots of good bits in it—boiled egg, olives, capers, and even some shrimp and crab.

I then decided to order the tuna tartare for my starter and the appetizer of the blue crab cake for my main course (2 appetizers is the only way I can eat at this place unless I split an entrée with someone). Our table also ordered the fried oysters, one of our perennial favorites. They were good as usual (and there was like 8 of them and they are huge). However, I never got to try the tuna tartare as our waiter informed me that the tuna was not fresh enough and the chef wouldn’t serve it to me. I sort of had my heart set on a cold starter and shrimp cocktail seemed so boring, so I got the lump crab cocktail instead. They serve it with cocktail sauce but it is much better with the remoulade sauce which is nice and tangy with some nice bits of chives and capers in it. Definitely ask for this sauce if you get this cocktail.

I have had the crab cake before—the very first time I went to Oceanaire I think. I remember thinking it was one of the only crab cakes I really like because it is so crabby. However, on this occasion it was a bit dry—and the sauce alongside didn’t do much for it. Horseradish cream I think? Again, better with the brighter remoulade.

Everyone else at our table had the black and blue Marlin. Hubby really likes the black and blue preparation which consists of some sort of blackened fish with blue cheese on top. However, on this occasion he said there wasn’t much flavor to the blackening part of the process and that it wasn’t as good as he had remembered. We also had the au gratin potatoes and between 4 of us, we almost finished them (they are really good though).

The wine list has changed a bit too—we had a featured Vermentino to start which was light and nice with the salad and then we had a Sancerre. It was quite nice, but I have to say Oceanaire has some of the most expensive prices around for bottles of wine. Well, the Vermentino was quite reasonable ($36 I think) but the Sancerre was $70.

I still love the interior of Oceanaire as one of my favorites in our City---and the crowd was quite large for a Monday night. However, the food is starting to feel a little uninspired and I hate to say it, if a seafood restaurant that specializes in fresh seafood flown in daily can’t have fresh tuna, then Houston, we have a problem.

Oceanaire Seafood Room
30 South Meridian Street
Indy 46204
317-955-2277
http://www.theoceanaire.com/

7 comments:

  1. I used to work in the restaurant biz and have a couple of friends who are chefs back in California. An unspoken rule in the food world is never order the fish on Monday. It's usually what's left over from Saturday and the new shipment isn't coming in until Tuesday. Even if they do get something flown in on Sunday or Monday, it has probably been out of the water for a long time.

    Sorry to hear Oceanaire wasn't up to snuff for your birthday. My hubby and I have only been to the OC twice. The first time was severely mediocre and the second time it was so brilliant we're still talking about that meal. I really hope it was just an off night. I'd hate to cross another restaurant off my list.

    And I agree. The portion sizes are bizarre.

    -Badger

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  2. Badger, thanks for your input, and you know you are probably right about the Monday thing. I remember that from when I was in California too--well actually, in SF, almost everywhere is closed on Mondays.

    And hey, as one friend said, I should be happy they wouldn't serve me a fish that wasn't fresh right?

    I hope it was just an off night too. It fills an important niche in downtown I think.

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  3. Thats bogus, Oceanaire uses a Chicago based seafood company that delivers every day. Just be happy they had the integrity not to try to sneak one past you by serving it...

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  4. We went there on expense account this fall, and the only thing memorable about the meal was the check. Even on expense account it seemed outrageous. I feel no need to go back, especially if I'm paying.

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  5. Just found your blog for the first time. Nice to finally have an unbiased food connoisseur's viewpoint in this city. as someone who also lived in Europe I have to agree with your comments about portion sizes...there isn't very many really good restaurants in Indy (good ones seems to always go out of business, because the masses in Indy gravitate towards chains) therefore restaurants compensate by offering large portions which is also something Indiana really likes. And yes there is a correlation, as Indy is one of the fattest states in the nation. I believe the reason is that the less flavor food has the more one needs to eat of it to get that satisfaction.

    I also used to live on the east coast and have to agree, while I'm glad we have Oceanair, considering all the hoopla I heard about it, I thought the food was very mediocre. I didn't "get" the cold variety plate they serve before the meal, and would have much preferred a good bread with butter...which to me is THE sign of a good restaurant.

    After I moved here about 20 years ago we had some very good food experiences, but alas with the arrival of the chains most of the chef driven restaurants disappeared and we pretty much gave up on going to restaurants for a while. Also with the arrival of a baby we ended up enjoyed good food mostly from our own kitchen, or going to Chicago or east coast to get our fix. But I am seeing a reemergence of some good places so hopefully that's about to change. It's amazing what competition does for the food industry, probably why there are so many good restaurants in Chicago...but in the end it comes down to patronage.


    Thanks for doing this blog. So far I agree with all the reviews I've read. Keep it coming.

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  6. Just found your blog for the first time. Nice to finally have an unbiased food connoisseur's viewpoint in this city. as someone who also lived in Europe I have to agree with your comments about portion sizes...there isn't very many really good restaurants in Indy (good ones seems to always go out of business, because the masses in Indy gravitate towards chains) therefore restaurants compensate by offering large portions which is also something Indiana really likes. And yes there is a correlation, as Indy is one of the fattest states in the nation. I believe it's because the less flavor food has the more one needs to eat of it to get that satisfaction.

    I also used to live on the east coast and have to agree, while I'm glad we have Oceanair, considering all the hoopla I heard about it, I thought the food was very mediocre. I didn't "get" the cold variety plate they serve before the meal, and would have much preferred a good bread with butter...which to me is THE sign of a good restaurant.

    After I moved here about 20 years ago we had some very good food experiences, but alas with the arrival of the chains most of the chef driven restaurants disappeared and we pretty much gave up on going to restaurants for a while. Also with the arrival of a baby we ended up enjoyed good food mostly from our own kitchen, or going to Chicago or east coast to get our fix. But I am seeing a reemergence of some good places so hopefully that's about to change. It's amazing what competition does for the food industry, probably why there are so many good restaurants in Chicago...but in the end it comes down to patronage.

    Great blog. Keep it coming. So far I agree with all the reviews I've read.

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  7. I am shocked that no one here loves the Oceanaire. I think it is the best restaurant in the city, bar NONE.

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