Sunday, December 2, 2007

Oceanaire (Updated: Now Closed)

Oceanaire is one of the newest upscale chains to come to Philadelphia, occupying a beautiful building at 7th and Walnut, adjacent to Washington Square. The interior oozes luxury. Modeled after an upscale ocean liner, giant sailfish swim against a two story champagne-colored wall, which all somehow fits within the understated art deco decor. It all comes at a high price, also in keeping with the theme, apparently.

Which is not to say it wasn't a great time. In fact, it was the spa-equivalent of a meal, in some ways. Our very pleasing server explained the menu and specials in a way that made me ponder storytelling tradition, from his referencing the show "The Deadliest Catch" in describing the Dutch Harbor crab special (a mere $168 for half) to his personable "Oh honey" when TPB asked how the escargot was.

As it turns out, the escargot was not so good, sadly drowned in a watery butter herb mix topped with a puffed pastry that was entirely unnecessary. But the misses ended there. The hits: oyster shooters, prepared with Belvedere vodka, with hints of garlic and tangy vinegar that rendered the "shot" from the shell nearly divine; lobster, which even at four pounds, retained a perfect sweetness made all the better by butter kept warm by miniature candles supporting the small cups. A split filet was nice accompaniment to the lobster and done perfectly.

Slightly caving to carbs, TPB and I nevertheless ordered the creme brulee, on the excellent advice from our server that all desserts were big enough for two. Kudos also to the wine list, which offered a good selection. My highest praise, however, goes to the amuse bouche that we were served upon seating, a broiled cod with a tangy tomato sauce served on a small corn chip. It served its purpose by leaving me wanting more and distinguished Oceanaire by doing what it does best: offering a little slice of decadence.

The Oceanaire Seafood Room is located at 700 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA, (215) 625-8862.

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