Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Chains >
Nov 13, 2007 01:54 PM

Oceanaire in Cincinnati [Moved from Midwest Board]

I've heard that an Oceanaire is opening in Cincinnati. Their web site just says "coming soon". Does anyone know when it will be open? Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Early next year -- January or February. Is this a big deal?

    15 Replies
    1. re: johnbycz

      Is it a big deal? It might be. It is an above average very good quality menu and service seafood restaurant chain started in Minneapolis. My guess is it might end up being the best in Cincinnati. Most midwest cities are not exactly seafood restaurant meccas. On the scale I rate them above McCormick and Schmicks in the seafood chain restaurant business though I like McCormick and Schmicks as well.

      1. re: Davydd

        I agree with Davydd. I live in Chicago, and we have quite a few excellent "traditional" style seafood restaurants. I visit Indianapolis several times a year, and have dined at the Oceanaire there numerous times. I really, really like it. In fact, I consider it as good as Chicago's best in this genre. We have McCormick and Schmick's here and I definitely rate them above McC&S. I just wish they would open one here in Chicago.

        Oh, and Chicago isn't the only place in the Midwest with some excellent choices in seafood. I don't go everywhere around the Midwest, but I've found very good seafood in the places I do go. There's a seafood restaurant I love in Grand Rapids called Leo's. And I think the Cameron Mitchell places are pretty darn good, actually, and they're not just local to Ohio; I've eaten at Mitchell's Fish Market here and in Lansing, and I know there's one in Indy.

        1. re: nsxtasy

          The Chicago Oceanaire...that's right Chicago!...opens in late 2008 / early 2009

          1. re: Fishbone

            Awesome!!! Thank you so much for posting - I'll be looking forward to it!

            Any idea of the exact location?

        2. re: Davydd

          Can anyone offer a comparison with Chart House, which I believe is a regional chain? There's one across the river from Cincinnati in Kentucky, and I've found it to be pretty decent. Oceanaire looks a bit more upscale and pricy, though.

          1. re: Emm

            I've eaten at some of the Chart House locations, although not the one in Kentucky (Covington?). I've found them to be okay but not exceptional in any way - more of what I consider a place that families go for a sit-down meal without spending a lot of money, similar in price and quality to Red Lobster - maybe a small step up from that, but not by much.

            The Oceanaire is indeed more upscale. The atmosphere is what you would find at a fancy steakhouse (in terms of being quite upscale, but with a nautical motif). The food is exceptionally good; the dishes are more creative and interesting, and the variety and quality of extremely fresh seafood is impressive.

            To me, it's like comparing Sizzler (or whatever less-pricey steakhouse chain is in your area) to the finest steakhouse in town. Yes, the latter is definitely more expensive, but the quality of food and the overall experience puts it in another category entirely (and worth it, if you can afford it).

            One other note regarding price. The Oceanaire in Indianapolis has a special three-course lunch deal every day (at least, during the week) that you won't find on their website menu, and it's available until late in the afternoon (4:30, I think). So if that's available in the one they open in Cincinnati, it's a good way to try the place out without spending a lot of money on dinner. (Even without that deal, lunch prices are significantly lower than dinner, like you find at most places.)


        3. re: johnbycz

          Have you been to Cincinnati?

          Anything edible is pretty much a big deal.

          1. re: nojunk

            I haven't been to Cincinnati lately. I've been to Le Maisonette several times and was disappointed when I heard they closed.

            1. re: nojunk

              I graduated from the University of Cincinnati eons ago (1968) but hadn't been back until last May passing through and had dinner at the Montgomery Inn.

              1. re: Davydd

                Keep in mind that the quality and variety of restaurants changes over time. Everywhere I go throughout the country, I've seen huge improvements over the years, and particularly the past 5-10 years. I think this is due to a great expansion of people's appreciation of different kinds of food, from fine dining, to ethnic specialties, to everything else.

                Cincinnati isn't a city I visit frequently, but based on the improvement I've seen in recent years in the Midwestern cities I do visit frequently (Indianapolis, Cleveland, Columbus, Grand Rapids, Louisville) as well as smaller towns (Mansfield, Terre Haute), I'm sure the dining options there have increased dramatically the same way they have elsewhere.

                1. re: nsxtasy

                  Well, I'm a native Cincinnatian who lived away for years, then moved back 6 years ago. You may be right in what I think is a broad generalization you've made, but I doubt that the pace of positive change in Cincinnati is comparable to the towns you cite--at least not the ones that I'm familiar with like Indy and Louisville. Sure, there's some good restaurant food in the Cincinnati area (like the oysters John mentions below), but it can be pretty hard to ferret out in a veritable sea of mediocrity. I continue to be flabbergasted that some of these businesses survive decade after decade. And I'm including some that I've see highly touted right here on Chowhound.

                  1. re: Emm

                    That's interesting. I'm curious what you like and don't. I've found Cincy to be a pretty good food city. I grew up there and just go back to visit my parents. They're foodies who still live there and eat there as well as all over the country and there are plenty of places they like that I've been back to. For it's size it's pretty good. Cleveland was better when I lived there. Richmond, where I live now, seems worse.

                    1. re: AMFM

                      I can't comment on the highest-end restaurants because I rarely visit them. For Italian, Barresi's in Deer Park is my favorite; Primavista does a good job although it could use some redecorating and sprucing up. I enjoy Ferrari's in Madiera. Oriental Wok in Ft. Mitchell is the only Chinese restaurant in the area I would recommend without reservation.Despite the comment elsewhere on this topic putting Chart House on a par with Red Lobster, I've always found the food and service there to be quite good.

                      I've been intending to report that Thanksgiving dinner at the Brandywine Inn in Monroe was absolutely wonderful--a flawless experience in terms of atmosphere, service, menu selection and execution. It's a long drive (30 miles) from where I live, but if anyone here is reading from the West Chester area, by all means check out the website and GO! Not that's it's not worth the trip from anywhere in the area: it is.

                      The list of restaurants that have disappointed me with mediocre food and service is long and encompasses national chains as well as long-time local favorites like Montgomery Inn, Arnolds, and Washington Platform. Or in an otherwise pleasant setting, there'll be a jarring note, like the blue-collar sports-bar atmosphere of Jack Ruby's where diners can spend a bundle on a nice-quality steak, only to have to dine with TVs flickering in the corner of their eyes.

                      I'm not a food elitist by any means, and I don't walk into a restaurant looking forward to what I can find wrong. But over and over here in Cincinnati, I've been disappointed with some aspect of most restaurants. I can only assume I got accustomed to living for years in a community where the average per capita income and education levels were a lot higher and where apparently expectations were, as well.

                      Despite how my post may make it sound, there are a lot of things I love about Cincinnati. The mid-range restaurant scene isn't one of them.

                      1. re: Emm

                        Fair enough. I don't like Montgomery Inn or the Ruby restaurants either.
                        I probably dine more low end (convenient with kids) or high end when i'm back in town. so i maybe can't comment on the midrange. there are some nice high end places. but i'd agree they're not always the ones people think.

              2. re: nojunk

                There's plenty of good seafood -- and other food -- in Cincinnati. I had terrific grouper at Mesh a month ago, and the oysters at the Knotty Pine are excellent.

            2. There were construction workers installing inside rough fixtures when I walked by today, so it is definitely underway now after a long, long wait.

              1. Oceanaire is a pretty darn good Oyster Bar. Otherwise, it sucks. Still, it's better than McCormick & Schmicks which is a mediocre oyster bar and the rest sucks like Oceanaire. And both of those are better than Chart House which is like Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks served in a Restaurant. And all three of those are better than Red Lobster which is like Freezer-Burned Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks served in a Restaurant. With a side of grease.

                Why do all of these seafood places suck? Because to be a good seafood place is to be merciless when it comes to throwing away seafood that's not perfectly fresh. And that's rough in the Midwest because it means you order 100 portions of something and you'll toss out 50 of them. These chains are more 'efficient' so they end up serving sub-par seafood.

                Somehow, Oceanaire gets really fresh oysters and they really know how to shuck them so you don't get grit in your oyster (unlike McCormick & Schmick).

                Oh, and even when Oceanaire, et al serve fresh fish, they over-cook it. They make grotestquely large portions (enough for 3 or 4 normal meals) and the desserts are horrible.

                So, don't get me wrong, I like to go to Oceanaire, but I sit at the oyster bar, order a dozen or two oysters and a vodka martini and I like it a lot. When I sit at a table for dinner, I don't like it so much.

                1 Reply
                1. re: JimGrinsfelder

                  I like everything at the Oceanaire except the oysters. I hate oysters so I never order them. :)

                2. They arrive in late March...I got this from a good source

                  1. I just ate at the Oceanaire in Houston, TX. I am from Ohio and the waiter in Texas was from Cleveland. He said he thought it opened in Cinci about two weeks ago, but wasn't sure. All I know is that the food was AMAZING, a little pricey, but so worth it!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jr341602

                      I walked by today the downtown Cincinnati location - its two blocks from my workplace - today, and they are still in the construction stage, with some rough fixtures in place and a lot of craftsmen working. Definitely not open yet, but it looks like they have a fighting chance to open as scheduled sometime in March, most probably (as Fishbone says) in LATE March, if no unforseen problems get in the way.

                      1. re: TJ Jackson

                        They're opening downtown? I guess that's part of the whole revitalize downtown idea - but that's not where I'd want to open a restaurant in Cincinnati. There are definitely places like Jean-Ro and Pigall's that have done well - but in general trying to get people downtown at night is so difficult.