Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Oceanaire Seafood Room

The Oceanaire Seafood Room
801 Aliceanna St, Baltimore, MD 21202 (443) 872-0000
While in Baltimore, MD for the weekend, I checked out the restaurant scene along the Inner Harbor. With an array of hot spots to choose from like: Ouzo Bay, Cinghiale - Osteria, Da Mimmo, and Wit & Wisdom, it required a lot of thought to choose the proper restaurant to review.  What made it easier however was the very apparent "Saturday night wait times" at the first 3 restaurants we checked out of 45 min+, so this reasonable wait time of 15-20 min was the best we could do on short notice. So without further adieu, I give you Ocean Aire: The Seafood Room.
The dining area carries high ceilings giving the restaurant a very "Ocean Aire" ambiance.  There are realistic looking plastic models of various sea fish around the restaurant.  I sometimes derived a childish grin by musing to myself what if these fish could see their friends being served to hundreds of people below every night.  Certainly not the best of fates, but decidedly better than Prometheus for you Greek mythology fans.
The restaurant hosts a delightful raw bar with fresh oysters daily complete with a full wine selection nicely arranged on contemporary modern steel shelving above. A sleek plasma screen fills guests in on the Orioles progress in the 3rd inning.
I had to take a picture of these table decorations. It looks like  a cross between an emergency alert "blue alert" system and the lights you would see on the side of a ship for visibility.

I'm thinking they were going for the latter of the two, but in any case, it was entrancing--much to the chagrin of my dinner companion, I more than once zoned out staring into the deep blue abyss of our table lamp.

Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail: House made Cocktail Sauce: 19. Ah yes, we decided to start things off with the shrimp cocktail.  Classic appetizer choice.  Of note here was the amazing quality of the homemade cocktail sauce.  It had a certain je ne sais quoi that was at once sweet and sour with lemon but pleasing.  It's tough to put into words.  Just remember, when in Baltimore at the Ocean Aire, get the shrimp cocktail.
While on the menu, this dish is denoted as "Chopped House Salad" come on Ocean can do better than this. Sure it was tasty and the house dressing sweet, ya-de-ya-de-ya, but the presentation just plain sucked. Throw a little garnish on there, arrange the lettuce in the shape of a fish.  Do something besides flop it on a plate. In its defense, it was delicious and I cleaned my entire plate and incidentally, I'm sure it looked much worse where it ended up compared to its appearance on my plate.
"Cup of Clam Chowder" Well, that trite description on the menu certain described what it was we got.  Clam chowder was tasty, nothing to write home about, but nothing to sneeze at either.  I am wondering if it is because we ordered from the restaurant week menu that the descriptions/preparations were less ornate than what I would expect from such a restaurant.  Compare for example, the shrimp cocktail dish which was not on the restaurant week menu to the two items after it (house salad, clam chowder) that were on the restaurant week menu. While I try to write an unbiased a review as possible, I can't help but notice the less attention to detail and finesse these restaurant week selections received as compared to something off the regular menu.
Black and Blue 16oz Double Cut Pork Chop. Caramelized Onions and Blue Cheese Butter. Well I can't say I'm not surprised here. This portion was hefty enough to satisfy a linebacker of the Minnesota Vikings and it was still on the restaurant week menu.  My faith in humanity has been restored.  Perhaps they were skimping on the other dishes to set this behemoth before me as the peak of my meal. A delicious blue cheese butter mixed well with the caramelized onions (underneath the hefty pork chop).  Overall, this course alone is enough to fill you up and I don't think I was able to finish it all not due to poor taste but just due to the hefty slab of meat set before me.
Chesapeake Bay Style Crab Cakes: Creamy Mustard Mayonnaise.  Very tasty dish, soft, fluffy crab cakes were full of meat and the mayonnaise was a nice finish.  Lemon wedge, check. Everything here to make a great crab cake dish.
Not much to say about these chocolate chip cookies.  They were good. It is hard to mess up chocolate chip cookies though. They tasted freshly baked and were served very warm so the chocolate melted in your mouth.
The sorbet was disappointing. It tasted watered down almost like water ice and not a sorbet.  It was some sort of melon flavor which was not all that great and to be honest, largely undetectable--that's how watered down it was.  As my friend put it, "It's one of those things you just eat because it's in front of you." Certainly, one would not go out of their way to get it.

Of Note:
Excellently themed restaurant with amazing "sea-worthy" decor. One of the major redeeming qualities of this place was the decor and general ambiance.
Hallways that look like corridors in a ship.
Clean, well maintained bathrooms.
Clean and sanitary "heads" --seaman's term for a toilet.
The exterior, revolving door with the restaurant name tiled into the brick patio.
An alternate shot of the interior.
Incidentally, I discovered the most delicious Riesling EVER. Dr. Loosen, "Blue Slate." Kabinett Riesling, Mosel.  It was so good, my friend who only drinks on the rarest of occasions, broke down and had a glass (or two).
Ocean Aire also is open for group parties and events.

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