(San Diego) Help me pick--Oceanaire vs Modus!
I'm organizing a dinner mid-week for a group of 10 in the downtown area. I've narrowed it down to Oceanaire or Modus (already doing Cafe Cerise that week). Price is not an issue. I'd like good food (top priority), good service and an atmosphere where we can talk and hear each other (it doesn't need to be dead quiet but a bar atmosphere is too loud). I've seen both reviews on Modus and older ones on Oceanaire and would love more thoughts!
It's a little hard to say without knowing anything about your group, or what type of gathering it is, but I think my own personal preference would be Modus.
Oceanaire is part of a national chain (albeit a high-end one), while Modus is part-owned by a family long involved in the SD restaurant scene, and showcases local produce and seasonal cooking. It has a more varied menu, and is probably slightly more affordable. I wrote about it on my blog a few weeks ago (www.aliceqfoodie.blogspot.com) and Naomi Wise just wrote it up this week.
I thought Oceanaire was very good when we ate there, though we had some quirky service issues. The food was good - it is mostly very expensive but high quality seafood. It has a very nice luxurious atmosphere, but not a lot of personality - you could be in any city in the U.S. in their dining room.
Here's a link to a Chowhound post I did last month on the SD Oceanaire. It was moved to the "Chains" board so I don't think many locals actually saw it. There should be a link in the post to a more extensive blog report complete with photos of what we ate.
What time will your midweek dinner be? I was at Modus with some girlfriends on a Saturday night and after 10pm or so, the DJ starts spinning some really loud music. He's good, but we started having to shout across the table at each other. Otherwise, it's nice if you'll be out of there before that time. You can always call the restaurant to ask. I really liked Modus, but can say for Oceanaire since I haven't been yet.
Both places are really good, but for a party of 10, I think I'd pick Oceanaire, simply because the room is much bigger and I think they would have the flexibility to comfortably seat a sizable group. Whichever you decide on, please let us know how you fare.
. . . jim strain in san diego.