Ocean consistently serves the best of fish, prepared to perfection.
By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
For seafood lovers, such as myself, Ocean is the place for dinner. Ocean starts with the best quality fish from every continent and prepares it to your preferences.
The cool ultramarine, aquatic ambience of this white tablecloth restaurant is juxtaposed with flames from executive chef, George Reis’ hickory wood fire grill in the kitchen. And aromas of seafood grilling over the hickory fire drift through the air. Ocean boasts two bars—one overlooking the open kitchen and trickling waterfall and another on the covered patio. Regulars have their favorite tables—or booths—and dishes. Ocean also hosts private parties and special events, for 10 to 200 people. Among its accolades is the distinction of being one of the state’s few AAA Four Diamond restaurants (2007- 2010).
Having been born in the Midwest and raised in upstate New York, gave Reis experiences with both farm fresh foods and global flavors. He also lived in Dallas, the Gulf Coast and Atlanta before opening Ocean in March 2002. Reis’ expertise, experience and understanding of how to select the finest and freshest seafood and how to cook it—steaming oriental style, delicately pan sautéing, southern frying, or grilling over a hickory fire—shows in every bite.
The catch comes from the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic, Pacific and the Mediterranean. And Reis uses spices and techniques from the countries that surround these waters, including his own signature seasoning, “The Love.” It is applied to every piece of grilled fish at Ocean. And if you are not a seafood lover, Ocean’s turf—steaks are as great as the seafood.
The Drink From the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winning wine list, we pair dinner with a bottle of J. Russian River Valley Pinot Gris 2007. Notes of ripe peach, citrus and mango is a match for Reis’ seafood. And Ocean’s signature cocktails always tempt, but tonight we save this indulgence for the Dessert Martini list.
Fearful the impending consequences of the oil spill in the Gulf, we seize the day and order the Crab Cakes appetizer and Black Grouper entrée. Two golden Gulf Coast Crab Cakes filled with luscious lumps of delicate white crabmeat are complemented by yellow kernels of fresh, roasted corn and the acidity of a caramelized shallot relish with lemon dill tartar. The only reason I pass up the nightly special—and my favorite dish—of wood fire grilled Baby Lobster Tails is for the entrée whole fish feature of Maine Lobster. My Ocean Salad Greek Style is a bowl of crisp greens with Roma tomatoes, red onion, calamata olives, topped with divine warm, golden bites of fried feta. It melts in the mouth, and each bite makes me crave another. I could make a meal of this fried feta!
Aromas of our wood fire grilled Whole Maine Lobster drift through the air arriving just before this spectacular presentation. We squeeze lemon from claw to tail and then dip each pink, succulent bite into melted butter for one tender taste of decadence after another. And the Gulf Coast black grouper is a thick, golden wedge of beautiful flaky white fish. This superb fish is accompanied by sautéed summer squash, julienne peppers, caramelized onions as well as scrumptious tamatillo manchego mashed potatoes.
Decadent dessert cocktails, Bananas Foster and Butterscotch Martini and an Espresso Martini make for a sweet nightcap. And they pair well with chocolate pecan pie with Grand Mariner ice cream and caramel sauce—sweet!
magazine, July 2010