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brescd01

Oceanaire

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Disheartened by our Devon experience last week, I took my wife to Oceanaire. We sat at he bar, which was a less glum experience than exile to their tables. I had 12 perfectly shucked oysters. I never knew there were degrees of excellence in shucking until my dismal Devon visit.

Unfortunately, everything else was lousy, food, service.

What is wrong with me?

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Since you specifically asked......

Your Expectations are inconsistent with the kind of places you are going to.

You should go to better restaurants and consider starting to avoid soulless national chain restaurants.

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Which raises this question:

What are the truly superlative local seafood restaurants?

You can find in Philadelphia superior local examples of just about every other genre of chain restaurant, from steak to Mexican to Italian to casual to even barbecue, but with the Fishmarket long gone and Philadelphia Fish & Company recently joining it in the dustbin of history, what's our winner (what are our winners?) in the seafood category now?


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Seafood in which sub-category?

I mean, there's Little Fish. Yes, yes, blah blah Bon Appetit blah overhyped blah blah. But the food there is very good. But a chef-driven BYOB is trying to do something very different than a seafood palace, soulless or no.

I had a great lunch at Snockey's back in the winter and have been meaning to get back there. But again, divey oyster bar is a completely different experience.

There's good sushi, I guess. But I'd rather pluck my own eyes out rather than get into one of those ridiculous "where's the best sushi" pissing contests.

Ken's Seafood does great seafood. But they also do great Peking duck: does a Chinese restaurant count?

I don't know whether we have any great high-end seafood places. 10 Arts doesn't seem to have brought (or have been intended to bring) that ol' Bernadin magic to Philadelphia. Am I missing something?

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Let's see what happens when the Oyster House (nee Sansom Street Oyster House)_ reopens under original owner David Mink's leadership. Mink not only started the Sansom Street Oyster House, it was the lineal descendant of Kelly's of Mole Street (also ran by his family) which was last located on Ransom Street before construction of the first Liberty Place tower forced the move to Sansom. I wouldn't expect it to be "high-end" in the sense of Le Bernardin or even Striped Bass, but I would expect good seafood well-executed. It should be a classic Philadelphia fish house.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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The alternatives suggested are all good ones. But as noted, a slightly different take on the seafood experience. God help us, if chain restaurants are taking over, but my understanding is that Legal Seafood out at the mall in KoP is pretty good. No personal experience, but as those sorts of places go, it's supposed to be good. I'm looking forward to Oyster House reopening as well, but again, not a Le Bernadin type of place. I think Philadelphia really doesn't have a high end seafood place since the death of my beloved Striped Bass (RIP). Chef Terence Feury is over at Fork now, perhaps he's taken some of the magic of fish preparation with him?


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Let's see what happens when the Oyster House (nee Sansom Street Oyster House)_ reopens under original owner David Mink's leadership. Mink not only started the Sansom Street Oyster House, it was the lineal descendant of Kelly's of Mole Street (also ran by his family) which was last located on Ransom Street before construction of the first Liberty Place tower forced the move to Sansom. I wouldn't expect it to be "high-end" in the sense of Le Bernardin or even Striped Bass, but I would expect good seafood well-executed. It should be a classic Philadelphia fish house.

I can email my menu if you want to see it. Also this is more Sam Mink's show. He is Davids son.


"..French Vanilla, Butter Pecan, Chocolate Deluxe, even Caramel sundaes is getting touched.." Ice Cream

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Going to a high-end seafood place in Philly is not easy, as others have remarked.

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I like Blackfish for fish, but that is not 'in the city'.

Bluefin and Fuji for sushi.

Ken's is awesome!

Legal Seafood in K of P was disappointing. I know everything is prepped at a central kitchen in or near Boston, but the fish and shellfish we had at the flagship restaurant in Boston was great, and the food in K of P tasted like frozen prepared food.

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Going to a high-end seafood place in Philly is not easy, as others have remarked.

While that statement may be factually correct, that's not the issue in your original post. I've had very good seafood at the places I tend to frequent:

Ansill

Matyson

Dimitri’s (over-rated but still well above average)

Little Fish (around for a long time and for some reason is recently getting more blog recognition than ever; IMO it’s a cut aove Dimitri’s)

Marigold

Lacroix

There are other places that have a chef that turns out very good to excellent seafood because that's the kind of chef they are.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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And yet, none of these is a high-end seafood place, except perhaps Little Fish. I long for a restaurant like the beautiful Combaro my wife and tried in Madrid, and the pulpo a la galago we had there and in lots of other resturants, that we enjoyed so much!

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And yet, none of these is a high-end seafood place, except perhaps Little Fish. I  long for a restaurant like the beautiful Combaro my wife and tried in Madrid, and the pulpo a la galago we had there and in lots of other resturants, that we enjoyed so much!

I'm aware of how you have handled these types of "questions" on other fora, and how they frequently lead to frustration all around.

"High end" doesn't equal excellent as you clearly experienced at Oceanaire.

Sandy asked, "What are the truly superlative local seafood restaurants?"

People gave answers but none were really "high end" because that wasn't a criteria. If you have ever passed by Little Fish it is not even remotely close to "high end." The common denominator for most of the recommendations are that they are not part of a chain, are generally chef-driven and serve really good and often creative food. IMO only Lacroix meets the "high end" criteria and it is not a seafood restaurant.

Others will correct me if I'm wrong, but the last "high end" seafood joint here in Philly was Stripped Bass.

Having never been to Combaro in Madrid, I have no idea what you are talking about. If it is both "high end" and serves excellent seafood, then you know what you're looking for better than the folks here.

As far as your original question is concerned, Vadouvan answered it.


“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Others will correct me if I'm wrong, but the last "high end" seafood joint here in Philly was Stripped Bass.

Pretty much what I'd said upthread. I just don't understand how a city of this size doesn't have a restaurant like Le Bernadin or Aqua. I suppose now that Striped Bass is gone, the closest choice geographically would be Seablue in the Borgata in A.C. Anyone been or have experience with it?

With the multitude of steakhouses and French bistros (the new black) you'd think some clever chef would see the unfilled niche and try and do something about that. Vadouvan? Anyone? I'd be happy to come up with a great wine list to match the menu. Seems I have some experience with that... :wink:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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You'd think. But then again, Striped Bass couldn't make it here. Admittedly there were other issues in play there, but I bet a bank would hesitate to lend given the history.

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Believe me, there's a long laundry list of other issues that were at work there, many of which were well documented in the press.

But getting back OT, just because Striped Bass ultimately had to declare bankruptcy and was sold to Stephen Starr , doesn't mean that someone with a solid business plan and the appropriate experience couldn't open a wildly successful fine dining seafood restaurant in Philadelphia. It doesn't necessarily need to be on the grand scale of Striped Bass (or Union Trust or Del Frisco's) - the real estate could be a tad less exquisite and could still seat enough folks in slightly more moderate decor and absolutely turn a profit. In fact, it would be far more likely to do so in a space where the monthly rent was less than $25K, don't you think?


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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As far as your original question is concerned, Vadouvan answered it.

Well my intent is certainly not to disparage Mr Brescd, indeed I can see how I myself would have higher expectations of Oceannaire thanks to the excellent window dressing they are engaged in. It's like the emperors new red lobster I mean c'mon all the condiments are on a lazy susan on your table. only hookers in Amsterdam do a better job of window dressing.

Katie is correct, there is no reason why quality has to be dependent on "high-end", in fact I find most high end places to be offering diminishing returns because there is so much flourish, the food does not get better, it's just more expensive to cover costs.

Real estate is the biggest issue, realtors/property owners in places like nyc see the specific economics of restaurants as opposed to other retail.

Even the new Northern liberties Mall is being cleverly marketed as "the piazza" and thus using that to justify an absurd $35 per foot.

with that kind of rent, aint no fish but a filet-o-feesh in Philadelphia.

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with that kind of rent, aint no fish but a filet-o-feesh in Philadelphia.

:laugh: Awesome...

Even the Golden Arches have to make rent. I'm sure if they tried to put a Mickey D's in say, the new Piazza, they'd have the same problem any over reaching restaurateur has. If you don't calculate your costs ahead of time, you fail. It's pretty simple arithmetic. I dont get how places are spending tens of millions prior to even opening the doors, and expecting to be successful in this economy. I think we need to reevaluate when half of the steakhouses all close because there's no money to spend there...

But that still doesn't get us any excellent fish, does it? :sad:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Hmmm, Mano, I detect something vaguely ad hominem in your posts, and I am not sure why you would reveal frustration in so benign a discussion. But I am glad you are tracking my involvement in other fora, I did not know my posts were so interesting...

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I can see how my post may be considered snarky, and for that, I apologize.

Not tracking your involvement in other fora at all. It's just that your posts on this thread followed a pattern that led to concerns in other fora in years past.

Back on track:

20 years ago we had about three true steak houses, including Derek Davis' KC Prime. Today I count eight high end places.

Barclay Prime

Butcher and Singer

Captital Grill

Palm

Prime Rib

Mortons

Ruth’s Chris

Shula’s (did this place close?)

Smith and Wollensky

Any idea what makes Philly such a steak town but not a seafood town?


Edited by Mano (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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I still don't know what "concerns" you refer to, perhaps you have me confused with someone else? Mano, still ad hominem and not ad "food-em".


Edited by brescd01 (log)

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