Oceana- Under the Sea of Skyscrapers

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Pants at a Glance
  • scene: Gorgeous grown up dining room, in airy shades of blues and whites; less formal front room with prominent raw bar display and ample room to sidle up the bar
  • sip: Specialty cocktails and wine
  • savor: Raw bar; clam chowder; lobster cobb salad; anything simply grilled; Thai fish; brussel sprouts
  • sit: For lunch, its great for a business meeting or a special occasion get-together; the location lends itself to after-work cocktails, and similar Corporate people get togethers; there is a large menu features both seafood and meat, and I am fairly confident that any Finicky Fiona could find something yummy here
  • spend: $$$$
  • address: McGraw Hill Building 1221 Sixth Avenue, enter on 49th Street between 6th and 7th
  • phone number: 212-759-5941
  • website: www.oceanarestaurant.com

I really hate when people ask me for a place to eat in Midtown. My mind goes blank and I end up offering obvious suggestions- Park Avenue Fill in the Season, Serafina, Casa Lever, etc. Thankfully, Ocean has relocated right in the midst of the midtown wasteland, its airy and attractive dining room providing some light in the canyon of huge buildings.  It is all about the fish here, but the decor offers a more sublte suggestion of that theme than say, Lure.  To be honest, I really love the way the main dining room looks.

To be honest, I have only been here for lunch.  The menu for dinner and lunch is very extensive, and I think that even the most picky eaters could find something to eat here. The food is seafood heavy, but in my experience it is also heavy in another element: bacon.  Yes, this place is a kosher nightmare.  The smoky flavor and solid texture of the pork product turns up in many lunch dishes, including the Clam Chowder, Lobster Cobb and Club, and the Brussel Sprouts.  Not that I am complaining. The raw bar selections as well as the soup are amazing ways to start your meal, much preferred over the raw poke trio and ceviche options.  The soup is hearty and filled with huge whole clams, potatoes, and yes bacon.  The Thai Snapper is an amazing dish, with strong flavors and a delicate texture.  Any lobster dish rocks, however the lobster club looks a llittle lonely on its plate with no accompaniments.  To help ease that lonelines, get the brussel sprouts, with a sweet maple and  bacon flavor that tastes like dessert.

On one visit my bf, despite recently having the real thing in London, chose the fish and chips, which was delicious if not as airy as the authentic gastropub fare we had a few days earlier.  In a nod to authenticity, the dish was served on newspaper, specifically the financial times, which is amusing considering the location of the restuarant, right in the middle of the all of the banks.  So if they are trying to deliver a message about the economy sleeping with the fishes, we get it…

Service is aiming to be refined but can be a littel scattered. There are lots of people around, some even in suits, but that doesn’t mean that they are all paying attention.  After our waitress disappeared, we asked another server what kind of fish was in the fish and chips (halibut) and got a completely different answer than our server eventually delivered (hake).  Once during a busy day they were able to get us in and out in an hour, and I would love to try a nice relaxed dinner.  I am sure the darkness outside would create a wonderful contrast with with the breezy interior.

Oceana is a very adult dining experience, an outstanding option for dining in midtown, or any part of the city.  This is carefully constructed food in a carefully constructed space. Just leave the kosher kid at home…

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