The Oceanaire Seafood Room

Chris figured it out, what “the thing” is with places like this. For us, this was a very special evening spent with good friends. It was a treat and not a place we’d go to every weekend. A lot of other people, however, must not bat an eye when eating at an establishment like the Oceaniare. Although the fun art deco, classy music and delicious food did make for an enjoyable evening, the waitstaff treated us like it was just any old night. We wanted to feel special.

It started when Jon called to make reservations and check on the dress code. Apparently the staff person answering the phone told him, “Dress is business casual, sir. We find that people spend more money when they’re comfortable.” Strike one.

The bartender temporarily wandered off with our credit card and had to call for a manager to help him take a $50 mistake off our tab. Although he was nice and my sidecar was acceptable, he was a little too blasé about the ordeal. Strike Two.

Our waiter was very friendly and very knowledgeable about the menu. He recited several specials with no problem and explained everything on the menu to us in a four‐minute monologue, even arranging for a vegetarian plate for our non fish‐eating friend (no fins or feet). However, when asked at the end of the meal if they could please box up our leftovers (and we all had leftovers), the staff got a little too snarky for our taste. Dude, if we just spent that much money on fish, you’d better send it home with me. And smile about it.

As for the food, that was good. The bread was nasty (in the best sourdough nasty sort of way), the spinach salad was large and easily filled us both up. Jon and Christine each had a salad with chèvre and quince (both enjoyed it).

My mahi‐mahi (only one of a few options not on the Seafood Watch Red List) came “simply grilled” in lemon, olive oil, and butter. It was fresh, and cooked just right. Chris ordered the fin and shell fish stew, which he assumed would be a lot like paella. Yes and no. It did come with an array of fresh seafood (clams, mussels, shrimp, salmon, and several crab legs) in a spicy red saffron‐tomato broth, but no rice. Very tasty nonetheless.

The hash browned potatoes were decent (a little too much oil for me, but then any oil is too much for me), and the mashed potatoes were awesome. Rich and creamy, nothing like what I make at home.

Christine went for a salmon dish that came with a mushroom and leek quiche, which she seemed to enjoy. Jon even liked his vegetable platter, which came heaping with grilled zucchini, yellow squash, asparagus, broccoli and onions, accompanied by a heap of mashed potatoes. And Jon hates vegetables!

Then there was dessert. When they say “cookies and milk,” they really mean “half the batter in the bowl” baked to a cakey chocolate chip goodness. Our key lime pie was wonderful, and we probably should have stopped after a few bites. But no. We had to go and eat almost the entire slab (insert piglet sounds here).

All in all, we enjoyed the Oceanaire. The experience would have been much better had our service been a little less smug and tried a little harder to make this more of a special occasion. We feel that meals like this should be celebrations, not commonplace events. But if you’re in the mood for excellent, fresh seafood, this is the place… even in Indiana, of all places.

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