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Oceanaire -- WTF? [moved from Boston]

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Went there for a business dinner for the second time.

Got mahi mahi, which was "of the second freshness", and not particularly well prepared otherwise, and came on top of a pile of sugared-up caramelized onions. Also lobster bisque, which tasted as if it came out of a can.

Nobody else at the table thought much of their food, and the service was lousy.

Last time I went, I got the "fisherman's platter", figuring they couldn't screw up fried seafood: I was wrong. The breading was thick and greasy, and the whole thing was an unappetizing, indigestible pile of hideousness.

For a $30 a plate restaurant, I would expect at least some imagination in menu preparation, and at least very good execution. Oceanaire provides neither. This was like something from 30 years ago, in Buffalo, where I grew up.

How does anyone like this place? The only think I can see that it has going for it is that it is right on the edge of the financial district. Other than that, I give it maybe 2 out of 10 stars (I reserve 1 out of 10 for places that give me food poisoning).

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  1. I have had some really good dinners there. Great raw bar selection. I got the shrimp and grits as a dinner entree and my husband had the fisherman's platter. Had the salt and vinegar fries. The food is not astonishing but I have always had good food there. Seafood restaurants in general are expensive. It is a downtown location which is also why the prices seem high. I have never had bad service there but I do dislike when they try to sell you a membership for Landry's restaurants when eating there.

    1. Only been there for an accidental Restaurant Week lunch, and I thought it was worth the $20. It's a nice-looking room as national chains go, but I can't speak to the dinner experience.

      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

      1 Reply
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        been there for two RW...one was good...last was terrible..oversalted sauces and overcooked fish :-P

        The room is awesome. Too bad the kitchen is crap...

      2. Been numerous times and never had anything less than Outstanding.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ScubaSteve

          My experience tracks with ScubaSteve's, though I haven't been there very recently.

        2. Our one experience there was not great. Food was ok. Service forgetable. We prefer McCormick & Schmick for that level seafood restaurant. I still think the best and most creative seafood dishes can be had in some of Boston's steakhouses.
          Enjoy,
          CocoDan

          1. Agreed it's expensive and standards should be high - love the room, consistently great raw bar, acceptable corporate cocktails, tasty large salads, and the best hash brown I've ever had anywhere, however, the mains have been REALLY inconsistent for me and never memorable - service has always been adequate to impressive, never a problem (though the Landry's pitch would be for me as well!).

            I once ordered a lobster special after confirming it would be a hard shell, then it was a soft shell, so the manager comped me an order of freshly-flown in king crab legs instead - I was impressed and continue to return, usually when it's an expense account dinner.

            5 Replies
            1. re: rlh

              Please elaborate... "freshly flown in" meaning LIVE king crab?

              1. re: WineAG

                They didn't call it live specifically (this I had in Seattle in a butter poached preparation that was really memorable after watching the dramatic unpacking and breaking down right in front of me in the open kitchen of the monster-sized crab!) - I assumed it meant never frozen - the price was per lb and significantly higher than lobster that night.

                1. re: rlh

                  i have had live king crab at East Ocean Seafood; I am sure that it was live as I picked it out of the tank. It is much more expensive than lobster.

                2. re: WineAG

                  Just chirping in a bit in hopes someone can provide wisdom. I didn't think anyone could ship king crab alive or dead. It had to be cooked. Am I wrong?

                  1. re: e_bone

                    Yes. A common misconception is that King Crab has to be cooked before it can leave Alaska, but it's not the case. As mentioned here it's often seen, in season, in a few places in Chinatown. It's VERY common in Chinese restaurants in Seattle BTW. I've seen it on occasion in the Boston area at some markets, but its rare. Live King Crab is really amazing. For a treat seize the opportunity should it arise.

              2. With the caveat that it is a bit overpriced, I have always enjoyed my meals at Oceanaire. Their hash browns are a guilty pleasure. They also make a pretty good martini. I don't go expecting much more than a fish version of Capital Grille or Mortons.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Gordough

                  I actually blew out the RW lunch price by getting the vaunted hash browns on top of my three-course. They are admirably crisp, but I'm guessing their appeal is based on the stick or two of butter involved in their prep.

                  Thanks to that butterfat bomb, I was tempted to order a bitter digestif afterwards, but I had to go back to work, and even mild weekday day drinking just kills my productivity, so I assiduously avoid it. I can remember Fridays in my twenties when we'd hoist multiple lunchtime pints at that bygone British pub in Easton and go back to work with gusto, but my body chemistry has changed.

                  Odd nowadays how the invigorating cocktail at 6pm is enervating at noon. But a man's gotta know his limitations.

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                2. Since they've been bought by Landry's Restaurant group they're not as good as they used to be. They're restrained by pricing at corporate. I had a terrible meal last time I was there.

                  The original oceanaire had the best fish in Boston.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: typhoonfish

                    My last four visits have been under the Landry flag and I noticed no decline in quality or service. I even joined their rewards program and now we consistently get $25-$50 off our bill and twice jumped to the head of the wait list for being a member.

                    1. re: typhoonfish

                      "They're restrained by pricing at corporate."

                      Do you have a basis for this statement?