Oceana, NY

December 17, 2007

Margaret invited Marilee, Linda and me to Town Hall on West 43rd  Street for the live broadcast of The Prairie Home Companion on Saturday evening, December 16, 2007. Garrison Keillor came on stage fifteen minutes before the 6:00 start of the radio broadcast to warm up. cw.jpgWe were laughing immediately, and continued to do so for the next two and a quarter hours except while we were enjoying music from three quite different bands. This is an experience I would recommend to anyone. Its 6:00 starting time is also an improvement over the inflexible 8:00 curtains in Broadway theater or Lincoln Center which do not allow for a proper meal either before or after.  



We walked up through Rockefeller Center to admire the huge Christmas tree and the windows at Saks Fifth Avenue and arrived at Oceana on East 54th Street.




We were seated at a corner table upstairs and ordered glasses of champagne to continue the festive event.  




A tasty little amuse-gueule arrived: a spoonful of razor clam with sunchoke purée and one of lobster with cilantro. We ordered the first of two bottles of Whetstone viognier, catie’s corner vineyard (Russian River Valley.) To me a good viognier is the perfect accompaniment to any kind of fish or seafood. I will not keep repeating below how good each dish was. They were all good. 





Margaret’s first course was Nantucket Bay scallops.  These small scallops, which are only available in winter, were lightly seared, enhancing the delicate flavors. They were served with shards of citrus.





Marilee started with the Florida Stone Crab Claws; Watermelon Radish, Apple Chutney, Pomegranate Glaze. (Watermelon radishes are a pink heirloom variety of the daikon radish.) Marilee was happily surprised that stone crabs in NYC could be as fresh and tasteful as they would be at Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami. Their texture and firmness were complemented by the crunchiness of the watermelon radish, which did not overwhelm the delicate flavor of the crab and the spiced apple chutney.




Linda had the Frogs Legs Ragout; Strozzapreti Pasta, Carignola Olives, Fennels & Rosemary.  




My starter was the Pan Roasted Baby Octopus; Slow Cooked Cranberry Beans, Wild Arugula, Green Olives & Thai Basil.  The octopus was tender and flavorful.





Margaret’s main course was Sea Robin Bouillabaisse; Mussels, Fall Vegetables, Olive Oil Crushed Potatoes, Piquillo Rouille.   This was a creative interpretation of a “Bouillabaisse,” although the broth had an authentic flavor. 





Marilee continued with the Taro Wrapped Pompano; Baby Bok Choy, Long Beans, Peanuts, Basmati Rice, Coconut Cilantro Curry.  

The pompano was, at first, disappointing visually. Marilee joked that it looked like a fish stick!  But, as the photos demonstrate, once the coconut cilantro curry was added, the important visual and taste elements were there.






Linda had the Crispy Artic Char; Buckwheat Spätzle, Melted Leeks, Lingonberry Caraway Jus.   





My main course was the Steamed Grouper; Lotus Root, Yu Choy, Young Coconut, Woodear Mushroom & Black Bean Sauce.  The generous chunk of grouper was complimented by the gentle Asian flavors.  





For dessert Margaret ordered the Pumpkin Cake with Lime & Walnuts; Vanilla Ice Cream.  





Marilee had the Chocolate Custard Brownie; Roasted Cinnamon Cream, Espresso Granité.  She thought that a chocolate art form would have been more appropriate description than a brownie.





Linda’s dessert was the Honey Poached Fuji Apple; Toasted Brioche, Crème Fraîche Sorbet.  





Mine was the Persimmon – Orange Vacherin; Warm Spice Cake. The warm spice cake was particularly rich and luscious, nicely offset by the vacherins.





Marilee admires the gingerbread lighthouse on the front stair landing. 



Oceana has a Michelin star. In Zagats it is tied for second with three others in the Seafood category. Le Bernadin is two grades above it, but I enjoyed this meal more than my last two at Le Bernadin (which were not recent.) There is a nice mix here of techniques: French, Asian fusion, modern American; one can choose reading the menu.  There were no flops among our twelve different dishes. At $78 for the three courses it is classed as expensive, but that seems very reasonable to me for excellent fresh ingredients well prepared. (Imagine what a bargain this must seem to a Parisian at current exchange rates.) We will be back for the $110 “Classic Tasting Menu.” ($195 with wine pairings.) 





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