In Atlanta, finding restaurants that serve fresh seafood is easy, but finding one that cooks it right is not. Thankfully, the Oceanaire Seafood Room cooks and seasons it to perfection.
With a menu that includes about 10 fresh catches of the day, a surf and turf, plenty of sides and appetizers, and a fantastic wine list by the glass and bottle, a seafood lover can’t go wrong.
There may be a recession, but people keep coming to Oceanaire. By 8 p.m. on a recent Saturday, every table within my sight was seated with diners.
The restaurant’s bright, open dining room is filled with spacious booths and dining tables that leave plenty of room between them so you and your company can eat and talk in private. Jazz from the 1940s coos softly in the background, and the level of noise from the bar and dining room is low, making Oceanaire a comfortable place for business or dining with a date or friends.
Within a moment of my sister, Laurie, and I being seated, our busboy, Saul, brought us water and a dish of pickled herring, carrots, kosher pickles, and black olives, reminding us of South Florida’s famed Ronnie’s and Wolfie’s delicatessens. Following on Saul’s heels was our server, Antonio. After hearing about my tastes in wine, he helped me select a magnificent glass of Sauvignon Blanc called Wairu River.
Within a couple of minutes Antonio brought our amuse bouche—crostini with marinated onions laced with a balsamic reduction. It did nothing for me, but Laurie liked it. I ordered the roasted corn and smoked salmon fritters appetizer. I was expecting a version of a crispy crab cake, but the inside tasted like a salmon spread. Laurie liked it more than I, but we both agreed that neither of us would order it again. While she enjoyed her spinach salad, which featured a tangy vinaigrette with bacon, I ate sourdough bread with yummy, creamy unsalted butter.
We both ordered fish from the selections that had arrived that day. When Laurie ordered the Georgia trout picatta I figured I’d just have a bite. Georgia trout sounds mundane, but this was anything but that. Lightly cooked, the trout lay on a picatta sauce with capers and was so delectable—reminiscent of Dover sole– I ate half of it, and drowned it in the sauce. While I’m generally not a fan of buttery sauces, this was more savory than rich.
My ahi tuna rubbed in fresh ground pepper was cooked perfectly, barely seared on the outside, rare on the inside, and drizzled with an almost imperceptible wasabi cream sauce. I split the dish with my sister. While we both normally favor tuna, we thought the trout was better. Still, they were both so good that even though Oceanaire serves ample portions, I could have eaten both entrées in their entirety.
But not everything was wonderful. Neither Laurie nor I liked the cole slaw. It was finely chopped, and mixed with vinegar and loads of pepper. I am not fond of super sweet coleslaw, but this could have used a sweetener. My thinly sliced French fries were soft on the inside and on the outside. I would have liked them to have cooked for a minute or two longer to get a tad crispy on the outside.
I’m not a big dessert person but tried the sorbet of the day, mango. It had been overly sweetened and could have used a dash of lemon or lime to give it a kick.
The restroom was both nice and disappointing. It featured mouthwash, paper cups, and fluffy cloth hand towels. But even after waiting for a couple of minutes at the sink, ice water poured from the hot water side.
While some improvements need to be made at Oceanaire, the attentive service and fish are impeccable.
The Oceanaire Seafood Room is located in Atlanta on Peachtree Street at the corner of 15th Street.