I remember the first time I went to Oceanaire. I was 20 and had just started working at Piper Jaffray. The London office had sent over a gift certificate (this was 2001 and let me tell you working in a brokerage firm back then kept me well fed). Fine dining to me up until that point was whatever country club an aunt or uncle had their wedding reception at so believe me when I tell you I was completely blown away. The opulence! The white linen tablecloths! The waiter who stupidly opted not to card me when I ordered a Sex on the Beach (despite the fact that at 20 I still looked 16)! A seemingly endless seafood smorgasbord loomed before me and I devoured every delectable morsel of it.
Flash forward a few years. I'd gone there a few more times and, again, thoroughly enjoyed it, with the exception of one birthday where I was served a booze-soaked baked Alaska after I'd had several cosmopolitans and wound up with a bitch of a stomachache later. But then, something weird happened. Noah and I had gone to Florida with some friends and discovered a little dive on the beach called Sandbar, which to this day has the most amazing coconut shrimp I ever had. I think I had it at least four times during our week vacation. Needless to say, when Noah and I went there for some random reason shortly thereafter, I wanted me some coconut shrimp! So color me surprised when I got the coconut shrimp and...well, to say they were inferior to the $8 shrimp I so loved in Cocoa Beach is a staggering understatement.
Now, here's the part where I will probably come off as a complete asshole - I am about to complain about a four star restaurant.
We hadn't been back to Oceanaire until recently, when we gave in to all the hearts and flowers crap and booked a romantic dinner on Valentine's Day. Don't get me wrong, the service is still outstanding, the restaurant itself is super glamorous and elegant, but the food? Good but not great. We discovered a place called Porterhouse a while back, which is a great place to get steak and seafood (and there will be a separate post about that place because YUM). The lobster at Porterhouse was sweet and just the right texture. It didn't even need to be dipped in butter, but I did it anyway because this is America and melted butter is what this country was founded on. I should expect the same from a place like Oceanaire, but again, it didn't quite get there. Again, it wasn't bad, it just wasn't knock you off your chair and send you crashing to the floor causing a minor concussion outstanding, which I firmly believe it should have been. Noah thoroughly enjoyed his meal, but I don't know if I can trust the opinion of a man that frequents Taco John's (J/K, love ya).
We went again last night to get their $30 Restaurant Week deal, and same thing. I got a shrimp pasta dish, and it was good, but the end of the meal didn't find me with my face in the bowl licking the bottom clean (reason number one why Noah will never take me to La Belle Vie ever again). The polenta Noah got with his beef tenderloin tips was outstanding, but one doesn't go to a seafood restaurant for the sides, unless they are ridiculous. At a place like Oceanaire, I want to feel like the food is as extravagant as the atmosphere I'm eating it in.
With all that said, i don't know if I'd go back to Oceanaire. In my opinion, there are better places downtown to spend ridiculous amounts of money. Although I should mention, the crab cakes are pretty damn tasty. Oh, and they do make a mean chocolate cake. I guess I'm on the fence. Damn you, frosting!