For reasons I cannot explain, I found none of my usual excitement before a meal when it came to Oceana. I’m usually a huge fan of seafood, and this was a seafood restaurant. As I entered the restaurant, my mind was justifying the visit with two reasons. It was a stop on my quest to collect all of the 2010 Michelin Stars, and that OpenTable showed a 1000-point table that evening.
Situated below impressive office towers, and within steps from Times Square, the space was built to accommodate a heavy lunch crowd and the occasional tourist who read some restaurant reviews. From the entrance you must first navigate around the massive raw bar before you enter the spacious main dining room. Further down you can see the private dining room encased in glass for large parties.
For Friday’s dinner crowd, however, it lacked the charm and intimacy.
The waiter was knowledgeable and helpful, and tried his best to explain to me the menu. This was a seafood restaurant, so I wanted fish. Few things in the NY restaurant scene makes me happier than a properly executed fillet.
However as I read the Fish section, I was amazed and a bit overwhelmed. Lots of fish types, served seared, grilled, blacked, steamed. All of this on top of more Fish entrées in the previous section.
As this was a Michelin Star restaurant, I thought I would just sit back and put my meal in the hands of the chef. After all, he should know what to do with the fish. Like most great restaurants, and the concept of Omakase or Tasting Menus, leave it up to the pros is often best.
“What type of sauce would you like to go with that?”
I was stunned and seriously confused. Just as I was about to relinquish control, I’m now expected to pick a sauce? How do I know what goes well with which type of fish? Will “Grilled Pineapple Salsa” or “Classic Romesco” go well with the Blacked Thrasher Shark? 9 types of fish/shellfish options, 4 types of sauce, the combinations are quite daunting.
I selected randomly.
The meal wasn’t particularly exciting. Our raw platter of oysters were good, but not as memorable as the ones found at John Dory Oyster Bar or Millesime. Can’t blame the chef for this though, picking oysters is such an art.
Appetizers and amuse were both good, but not the caliber that I was expecting, and not for these prices. The stuffed squid showed a lot of promise on the menu, but the execution was disappointing. The seafood sausage at Millesime has set the bar too high.
When my main course eventually came, it was immediately obvious that my random combination of a sauce didn’t work out too well. If you expect me to pick sauce on the side, I expect the sword fish to be executed perfectly. I’ve had better.
The eggplant we ordered on the side was incredibly tough to bite through, a disappointing surprise.
In the hallway leading to the restroom, you see a collection of accolades from various publications. Despite Oceana’s Michelin success, it’s been losing stars from many other NY based reviews.
I suppose sometimes I don’t want to have things my way.
What does this rating mean?
Oceana (Make a Reservation)
120 West 49th Street
New York, NY 10020