While the architecture and décor of this nautically themed restaurant is novelâ€”inside I really felt like I was taking a little jaunt on a high-class steam liner…like I should be wearing red lipstick and glovesâ€”I’m afraid the food was a bit underwhelming.Â Selecting from the 3-course Winter Restaurant Week lunch menu, I started with the seared scallops.Â Beautifully presented, the dish was simple and elegant.Â The plump scallops had a pleasing subtle smoky flavor to them, but did not have the sea-salt succulence expected of really fresh scallops.Â I did, however, enjoy the bright citrus garnish of blood orange segments and the candy-like jelly bits of pineapple added a sweetness and interesting textural component.Â While great in theory, this dish fell a bit flat and I was still craving a juicy taste of the ocean when I finished.
Sadly, my hopes and dreams for the cornmeal crusted halibut in buttermilk sauce never got off shore.Â The flavors were bland and the bed of corn and lentils beneath the fish filet added no excitement.
With each bite, I tried to will the flavor into the morsels, but in the end had to settle with muffling my disappointment with the no-fail comfort of fresh bread and butterâ€”in fact, I’m a little embarrassed to admit, the butternut squash rolls saved the day (I had three.Â They’re little).Â Well that’s not entirely true…not about the three rolls, I really did indulge in them…but about saving the day.
In truth, pastry chef Jansen Chan was the real hero with his inspired dessert.Â A wonderfully complementary and complex concoction, the sticky toffee cake served with oatmeal stout ice cream and dark chocolate sauce was the one course that was fully satisfying.Â The dish was so intriguing I found myself continuously wanting to figure out the play of flavors and textures, until to my dismay, it was all gone.
Visually, the dessert was artfully constructed like an edible game.Â The caramel color piece of cake itself sat on one end with gooey ripples of toffee oozing from its center.Â Surrounding it was a rich pool of dark chocolate ganache.Â Tempering the sweet decadence on the other end of the plate was a scoop of oatmeal stout ice cream that was as refreshing as the pint variety.Â Frothy, creamy, earthy.Â To my delight, it sat atop a perfect square of crunchies.Â I still haven’t figured out what they wereâ€”perhaps a kind of wheat germ, or baked bread crumbsâ€”they were almost flavorless, and I rather enjoyed all the crunchy fun they provided without interfering with the medley of flavors already at work.
All in all, an ok lunch aboard Oceana, but would not splurge for it at regular menu prices.
55 E. 54th St
(btwn Madison Ave & Park Ave)
New York, NY 10022