This is difficult. It is hard, for me, to be completely objective when I am treated like a Prince both by the General Manager, Donna Seal, and her staff. I have been in contact with the GM about her speaking at my class, Let's Eat Out, and therefore the relationship. I'll do my best to point out the strengths and weaknesses of this new addition to the downtown dining scene.
"The Oceanaire Seafood Room" it's full title is located at the corner of 6th and Vine in a beautiful new space, tastefully decorated and lit, in the 580 Building. Phone 513-381-8862. The website is http://www.theoceanaire.com/.
We have been there twice since they opened June 1.
The first 20 minutes, of our first visit, were spotty to say the least. Our reservation had been taken and confirmed. We were seated, promptly, and then waited for 10 minutes for a server to appear. Actually the Manager was the first person, other than the polite bussers, to come by, and she took our drink order. My Bombay was a nice pour but the pricing is the highest in the area.
Digressing for a moment I believe all the bar prices are on the high side and that may reflect on the amount of liquor and wine which they are able to sell. In these difficult times, unless they expect a lot of convention or expense account business they may find not being highly competitive on bar pricing will be a deterrent.
Things improved greatly after that, although I had a couple additional comments on the manner of service, of the relishes and the "amuse bouche". As you know I'm a demanding customer, with or without special treatment.
The order was taken, in short order, and the meal that followed was excellent; that's what really counts. I had the Artic Char, broiled. I could not have been more satisfied with the size, price and especially the preparation. Marilyn and I had shared the head lettuce salad, the salads are all large enough to share, and the table had an order of roasted beets, both red and gold, some of the best I have ever eaten, and an order of sauteed spinach. Both of these served the 4 of us and some of the beets went home with the other couple.
Marilyn had well prepared and very tasty Walleye, I had a taste and the other two had the two pound Lobsters, which looked wonderful and they confirmed they were. Our server was not familiar enough with the menu, a training problem in a newly opened restaurant. She had to check the price of the Lobsters, possibly they change daily, and was unable to describe several deserts. The descriptions didn't matter since the deserts appeared, as a treat from the management. There were wonderful fresh strawberries with a hot chocolate dipping sauce and too much baked Alaska. We needed two desert to make sure we gained the proper poundage.
Last night we returned, with another couple at 5:30, before the Women's Lecture Series. The place was full, till 7:30 and management was smart enough to have a reasonable price fixed menu, for those who wanted. All of us chose to use the regular menu.
Maggie Smith was our server and she is a real "pro". The service was prompt, attentive and seamless. What more can one ask. We ordered a bottle wine, again slightly on the high side but not on the margin of the hard liquor.
I had the Crab Louis, which was a nice size serving of excellent lump crab meat in a huge bowl of chopped iceberg lettuce and many sliced of tomato's and hard boiled egg. I'd like to see the person that eats all the lettuce. The table shared the beets, just as good the second time and seasoned beautifully, and a large order of Hash Brown Potato's. I like my hash browns very crisp and that is exactly the way they came. Marilyn had "fish and chips" from which she removed most of the batter fried coating. The others had fish, I was lost in my salad and don't remember their exact order.
After the women left we finished off a second bottle of wine and had a pleasant conversation with the Manager.
On the whole I feel that Cincinnati is very fortunate that "Oceanaire" has chosen to open their 16th "store" downtown to help us reinforce that we are a places where we follow the dictum, "Let's Eat Out".