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The Oceanaire - Seafood Room

One of the many things we love about Oceanaire is its unassuming facade. Before you even step into the venue you have the privilege to spy its inner workings as a large window allows you to see into the kitchen; its chef and line cooks all working to create culinary masterpieces. Next, move to the doorway, step off of the street and enter a small lounge area where you naturally look around for the restaurant. It takes only a few seconds for your eyes to follow the grandiose curved staircase, now realizing you have to ascend these steps to enjoy the treasures that lay ahead.

One of the first things that catches your attention is the tranquil lighting and the soothing mood it creates. Shades of calming blue bask the bar and seating area while the dining room displays a serene warm glow over the many elegant tables and booths. The vibe reminds us of a smooth jazz station (and the music has a bit of that too) that seduces you with its style.

We were meeting friends for dinner and having arrived a little early, we decided to enjoy a glass of wine at the bar. Here is where the sophistication of Oceanaire began to dazzle us. The bar itself is really half a bar and half an Oyster Bar, all very pleasing to the eye. We loved how the Oyster bar had a chalkboard heralding the items of the day – it shows we are talking fresh seafood here, even on a Monday.

Our bartender acknowledged us immediately and we selected two glasses of a whimsical Wishing Tree Shiraz, per his recommendation. We returned to our seats off the bar and in a flash the bartender was at our side with bottle in hand pouring a sampling. Now we don’t know what your experiences have been, but rarely have we had a bartender deliver us this kind of service for a simple order (and he very generously filled the glasses). You knew that this place has your pleasure in mind!

As we enjoyed our delightful wine, we spied the dining area and something caught our attention. Everywhere we looked there were staff waiting at attention to provide whatever services their customers may require. Once again, very attentive.

Our friends arrived (late as usual) and we made our way to our private, comfy booth. Quick to the table was a lovely nut encrusted goat cheese morsel with salmon and a port reduction sauce, compliments of the chef. Simply marvelous, so tasty and light. We ordered some appetizers (Maryland Blue Crab Cakes) and salads, Spicy Tuna and Avocado, Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella (pickled red onion, basil pesto and parmesan tuile) and Strawberry Fields Forever (champagne vinaigrette and summer greens, and how can you not love that name). All were splendid in their presentation and flavors. The crab cakes were incredibly moist and the salads a meal in themselves, light, fresh, superbly flavored and crisp.

Oven Roasted Alaskan Halibut

Spicy Tuna and Avocado,

Heirloom Tomato and Mozzarella

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For our entrees we chose the Oven Roasted Alaskan Halibut (fingerling potatoes, haricot verts with leek soubise and tapenade) and the Fisherman’s Platter (Alaskan Halibut, Black Tiger Shrimp, Pacific Oysters and Scallops with Salt & Vinegar Fries). The halibut was cooked to perfection and the portion was more than generous. It was flaking with every touch of your fork. The topping was a bit pungent, so buyers beware if you can’t handle strong acidic flavors. The Fisherman’s Platter is normally served fried but we requested it grilled (always watching those extra calories here). Perhaps we threw them a curve as the dish arrived a bit too overcooked, which discounted the sublime flavors that the dish could have provided.

Accompanying all of this was a glorious tray of their fabulous Salt & Vinegar Fries which we gobbled up almost embarrassingly so. Be forewarned though, they are called salt and vinegar for a reason so they do indeed have a very salty bite to them. Just drink lots of water and don’t weigh yourself for a couple of days!

Even though the meal and evening had made us very content guests, we could not resist partaking in a decadent dessert and Oceanaire did not disappoint. A gorgeous, large Caramel Brownie (with a side of cream and ice cream) made its way to us. This brazen piece of heaven was immense in its portion and the accompanying caramel and raspberry sauces (which you dribble on at your discretion) made it a sweet thing to behold.

So all of this profound culinary artistry is brought to you by Executive Chef Brian Malarkey who (unless you’ve had your head in the sand) was a finalist of the latest edition of Bravo Networks’ Top Chef. Brain actually stopped by our table (and many others) to check on our meal. Need we say, very charming. He was delightful, engaging and quite the kidder too. Add valet parking (although a bit steep) and what else could you possibly want out of an evening of dining? Prices are on the high end side but this is a venue that delivers on all counts.

Go for the enchanting ambiance, go for the delightful appetizers and entrees or just go for a celebrity sighting of Brian (and we know some of you will). Whatever your motivation, Oceanaire will take you on a magical journey and leave you wanting for more. Enjoy!

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  • City: San Diego, CA 92101
  • Phone: 619-858-2277
  • Name: The Oceanaire - Seafood Room
  • Address: 400 J Street