Two weeks ago, Dorren invited me to lunch at Oceana. You might remember Dorren from my post wishing him a happy birthday; Dorren and I met at RecycleBank and he took care of me and David by bringing us fruit every day (he took requests, too). Even though we don’t work together anymore, we still get together from time-to-time (mostly at going away parties for people that are leaving RecycleBank). Luckily, I was free for lunch and we met up at Oceana to take advantage of their restaurant week menu AND to cross off another restaurant off my Michelin Restaurant list.
Oceana is located in midtown west between Rockefeller Center and Times Square. The lunch crowd was a mix of tourists and business people – the chef that we spoke with after lunch said that it was actually a slow day (but the restaurant seemed pretty full the entire time). We started off with some bread (made in-house) and butter:
Dorren let me order for both of us, so we started with the scallop sashimi with peach chutney:
And the whitefish sashimi (which isn’t actually on the restaurant week menu):
Both dishes were very fresh (they get fresh fish delivered every single day) and I even liked the combination of peach chutney and the sweet scallop sashimi. We both enjoyed the dishes and were very excited for our main courses. For my main course, I ordered the chilled poached skate:
Skate is one of my favorite types of fish to eat; it’s light, has an interesting texture, and has a great flavor without adding many embelishments. This dish absolutely blew my mind; it had so many layers of flavor and tasted so incredibly fresh and light. The squash and zucchini salad was a great combination with the skate that was steamed and prepped with a little olive oil and there were great texture combinations from the baby greens, pine nuts, and pickled red onions. I couldn’t stop eating the dish (even though Dorren and I were splitting everything!)
Dorren ordered the grilled bluefish with beefsteak tomatoes a la plancha, tapenade:
And the fish:
The dish was much heavier and substantial than the skate (it was also hot and the skate was served cold) but it was equally enjoyable. The tapenade added the right amount of salt to the otherwise plain bluefish and we both enjoyed the texture of the fried capers.
For dessert, we ordered the assorted sorbet:
And the chocolate chip cookie parfait:
The sorbets were very tart (especially the lemon) and I think they would’ve paired better with a lighter cookie (I associate ice cream with short bread, something more egg white-based with sorbet). The chocolate chip cookie parfait was a de-constructed chocolate chip cookie that wasn’t too sweet (the layer of chocolate was actually a little bitter, which complemented the otherwise sweet dessert). I liked the chocolate chip cookie parfait more than the sorbet, but both were very enjoyable.
After our lunch, the executive sous chef, Chris, took me and Dorren around their very large kitchen. The coolest part of the tour was learning about their very precise ovens; the chefs can control the humidity of the oven so every fish is cooked to the same temperature and those temperatures can be saved to a USB drive so the service and quality is consistent:
The pastry chef, Jansen, was preparing for dinner service:
Oceana is one of the few restaurants that still makes all of their bread in-house – I really liked their foccacia:
They also prepare all of their stocks in-house:
And have a cooling area so the stocks can be used immediately:
All of their herbs are purchased daily:
And they had some lovely tomatoes in (right next to the dummy waiter):
Some of the fresh fish that just arrived that morning:
And right in front of the kitchen, the lobster tank:
Me and Dorren after our lunch and awesome tour:
So, after having a really wonderful Restaurant Week lunch at Oceana, I went back and met Chef Ben Pollinger, who treated me and Lou to some small bites in their private dining room – we started off with some smoked tuna wrapped in fresh tuna:
Snapper ceviche with coconut milk and mango:
And oysters with vinaigrette and diced cucumbers:
Jansen, Oceana’s pastry chef, also brought in some shaved ice:
Me and Chef Pollinger after shooting our video:
The video is a great lesson on how to prepare the chilled poached skate – DEFINITELY try making this dish if you’ve never eaten skate or if you’re feeling adventurous:
The restaurant’s service was really wonderful, Dorren and I had a great time during Restaurant Week (which I usually avoid because the service is really terrible AND they always try to push wine on you to inflate your bill) but the waiters were very courteous, the food was delicious, and I’d definitely return (even if I don’t get to eat in the private dining room in the chef’s kitchen!