Oceanaire: Catholic Church Approved

by Scooter Holt

Well, yet another media dinner and, before everyone accuses me of “selling out” on my chain-restaurant stance (Ick!), I was whole-heartedly impressed by what Oceanaire had to offer.   I wanted to go in, arms folded, scowl on the face, prepared to “pooh-pooh” every course that was served.  Unfortunately, they had me by the salad course.


Now, what threw me through a loop was the inordinate amount of priests dining there this particular evening. Were seafood restaurants some sort of holy ground no one had told me about?  Were the walls going to burn down now that I had shown up?  And, being the quasi-Jew that I am, why was I all of a sudden feeling apprehensive and guilty?  Fellow diner, Brian Lawrence, editor of Style Magazine, set me straight.  “There’s a Bishop’s convention in town.”   But how did he know that, I asked.  “Well, us Christians all get an email blast, you know.” 


Very Funny.


As for the dinner, I was a hog at the trough.  Trays of Choptank oysters, Scallops as big as your fist, a side of Halibut the size of an aircraft carrier flight-deck, calamari that easily qualified as bracelets and succulent mussels that gave Spanish castanets a run for their money.  How was this paired?  Perfectly, with a little Sonoma Cutrer Chardonnay and, later, ’07 Cuvaison “Napa Valley” Pinot Noir, which I took a particular shining to.  Out of all these aquatic delights, you might ask, what my favorite was.  The answer may surprise you.

Oceanaire makes a damn good steak.

No joke, that New York Strip was perhaps one of the best grilled steaks I’ve eaten all year, hands down.  Chef Jeff Lhotsky may get kudos for his seafood, but I’m here to preach about his steak.  Now this, of course, puzzled me.  Why would a restaurant chain, known for its seafood, put out one of the best steaks I’ve ever tasted?  Investigation was required. 

Fellow diner Anne Boone-Simanski, of Fox Sports radio and columnist for Style Magazine, poured me into her car and dropped me in front of the recently opened Rowhouse Grille in Federal Hill where, after several Dark-and-stormy’s, I sought out the answer.

“Oh, that’s simple,” said Rowhouse Grille sous-chef Tess Mosley, “with most of the kitchen staff devoted to preparing fresh seafood, that leaves the one guy manning the grill prepared for that rare occasion when a steak order comes in.  He’s going to make sure that’s the best damn steak to ever hit a plate.”

Mystery solved
.  So, my pedestrian advice to anyone thinking of dining at Oceanaire in the near future?  Try the steak.  And, if you’re feeling guilty about ordering a steak at a seafood restaurant, don’t worry—

There’s plenty of priests dining there that could surely hear your confession.

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