Reviews › Casually Upscale

Bar Hop

Before dinner drinks at 5 Point, dinner at Ocean’s Bar

By Jan Walsh

Back in the pre-Uber days, designated drivers or cab were necessary to bar hop. What fun to pop in and out, having one course at each restaurant bar, starting with apps and ending with dessert. My preference remains dining at the bar of restaurants, to a table. But these days, rather than hopping from place to place, I make reservations at one spot and stay put for the evening. In fact, I loiter there.

Tonight, we plan to secure our favorite bar seats at Ocean Restaurant. Bar is first come, first serve. Next door is another George Reis restaurant, 5 Point Public House Oyster Bar. It opens 30 minutes prior to Ocean, which is just enough time to pop in for a before dinner drink. Here we are greeted by Clarence and Tyler, who serve rounds of smiles with their multidimensional drinks and where sketches of a staff server/artist adorn the bulletin board. Restaurant people are so multi-talented! More than just creative, 5 Point’s cocktails are carefully considered, well structured, and in season. Kev opts for the Strawberry Coconut Mojito, and I order the Blueberry Tequila Limeade. His long, tall, sweet tart, thirst quencher includes a house made, fresh strawberry syrup along with a lovely mix of Bacardi, coconut, lime, mint, and soda. My drink starts with tequila and a house made, blueberry simple syrup, muddled with fresh blueberries and house made limeade. Both are beauties! Just when we are ready to hop over to Ocean, I am treated to another well considered saporous synthesis: Anejo Old Fashioned. This tequila-based drink is hand crafted with Espolon, vanilla simple, angostura bitters, and garnished with orange peel. I love my bourbon. But this well aged tequila old fashioned might be the best we ever tasted, as I avoid sharing but Kev insists on another sip.

As the doors open at Ocean, we pull up our stools. Bar Manager, Robby and Bartender, “Rambo” have a beautiful, newfound bottle of bubbly from Burgundy, Cremant De Bourgogne on hard chill for us. Kev is craving his favorite, nightly (off the menu) special of Baby Lobster Tails. He orders for app and entrée! I steal a couple of these delightful tender and succulent, tails that we squeeze lemon over and dip into warm, melted butter. Both the lemon and butter highlight the lobster flavor as does “The Love,” a secret mix of herbs and spices that Chef George slathers the lobster in before grilling over hickory wood.

Kev’s second plate of Baby Lobster Tails arrive with my entrée of Crispy Red Snapper. Served pan seared, this pristine, filet of fish is white and shiny on the inside, golden on the outside, and bursting with Gulf freshness throughout. It is accompanied by a mix of textures and tastes that only George could imagine. Tiny slices of crisp, sweet, thin skinned Persian cucumber, a mighty mint salad, and colorful, juicy, blistered tomatoes are all fused together in a gorgeous cucumber gazpacho. Highly recommended!

For dessert, Kev opts for the Oatmeal Cream Pie Cheesecake. Whenever I am fortunate enough to find my favorite wine, Grahams 20 Year Tawny Port on a menu, I order it. Another unexpected find on tonight’s dessert menu is Chocolate Panna Cotta. While I love panna cotta, somehow, I never knew there was a chocolate version, making me feel like George’s mother in Seinfeld… “I’ve never heard of it. Did they just invent it?”

Kev’s wedge of creamy, moist cheesecake has a base of marshmallow cream on bottom and is dripping with butterscotch sauce and oatmeal cookie crumble on top. A plump, whimsical, homemade oatmeal cream pie (not the Little Debbie he grew up with) puts it over the top. Want to feel like a kid again? Order this dessert.

The aged, amber colored port, as always, draws me in with its aromatic bouquet. I would pay just to whiff the nutty, intense, and sophisticated aromas of dried figs, raisins, caramel, and coffee. On the palate its balance and mellowness delights, unfolding with the essence of mature fruit, such as peaches, and apricots. One need not be a wine connoisseur, to the recognize grandness of this port. Its intricacies and sophistication are straightforward. One taste, and you will never settle for a lesser port. It pairs beautifully with my chocolate, caramel dessert. The silky panna cotta glistens atop dolce de leche and is anointed with a crunchy toffee brownie brittle. Esteele would highly recommend. So do I!

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