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The Pre-Review Feedback on the New Oceana

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Horine, 8/5/09

It's been about a month since the new Oceana opened up in the Rock Center area, bringing to the McGraw-Hill building a restaurant with a NYT 3-Star rep and a Michelin Star (which it maintained earlier this week). By the looks of things on the interwebs, the transition has been a success. There's plenty of praise for the excellent, consistently well-prepared food, yet it's evident that no one's crazy about the pricing.

The Good News: Four Yelpers have posted reviews thus far, and it isn't looking bad at all. A taste of the praise: "This place is excellent if you're ready to spend the 4 dollar signs. The staff there are all extremely helpful and carry on a very tidy establishment without seeming stuck-up or too good to serve the commoners...Kumamoto oysters are great...Fluke tartare was good but I don't need to have it again...Taro-wrapped pompano was a great choice...The broth for the steamed shellfish was great and none of the items (shrimp, clams, mussels and mushrooms) were overcooked...The chilled melon mint soup is a great choice if you're looking for something light and refreshing...Great place for a special dinner. A taste of the minimal criticism: "the service is still working out a few kinks." [Yelp]

The "Try It If You Can Afford It" News: Over on MenuPages, the two reviews of the new space praise the "perfectly cooked and very tasty" food, but one grammatically challenged user emphasizes the cost issue: "went last night thinking it would be part of RW, it wasn't but prices seemed fair - maybe cos of the discounts for their soft opening. Food was amazing but portions were small. Wait staff attentive and knowledgeable. I put 2.5 on atmosphere cos it caters to more of the "suits" crowd - some bearing trophy wives. They're never any fun. I came in with jeans and flipflops and wasn't snubbed away. Everyone was great. I would go again if I can afford it. It costs us over $100 for 2ppl - and they charge for sauce?! wtf? Try the stuffed calamari and crispy striped bass - yum, pass the gnocchi - it was tasteless. Oh and the bathrooms were so beautiful! I always appreciate that! Bon Apetite!" [Menupage]

The Great News: There's a wealth of recent feedback on OpenTable, and quite a lot of it is positive. This particular user pretty much sums up the views of the pro-Oceana camp: "We went here for an early dinner with friends before seeing a show. It is just what we had hoped for - great seafood deliciously prepared at a price that didn't break us. Service was impeccable and our waitress was happy to offer recommendations and answer our questions about the menu. The beautiful, contemporary dining area is very open and seating is comfortable and well spread-out... unlike many other NYC restaurants we've been to where you feel like you have to be squeezed into the table. It truly was a perfect meal!" [OpenTable]

The Bad News: That being said, there are a few howlers on OpenTable that shouldn't be overlooked. Exhibit A: "We ate at the old Oceana many times and enjoyed the food. I was dissapointed with the food this time, don't think I will be returning." Exhibit B: "This is probably a lovely restaurant if you dine here between 6:30pm & 8:30pm. I made this reservation for 10pm following a show, and arrived on time to a restaurant 90% empty with many of the entrees no longer available. The hostess, hidden in a corner behind the entrance, made no attempt to follow us to the bar, where the bartender phoned her with our name and time of our reservation. She then came to us, seated us, and then made a sly comment about how we walked past her without stopping. We certainly would have stopped if we had seen her. We were then rushed through our meal with wait staff lurking around waiting anxiously for us to finish every course, none of which were terribly good. We did not stay for dessert." [OpenTable]

The Positive News: Sifting through the action on Chowhound, it is revealed that people like the place. In a discussion of potential anniversary dinner spots, one user chimes in: "I'm gonna plug Oceana again, which kept its Michelin star in the 2010 guide. It's on, it's in the Rock Center/Theatre district, and the wine list and service are top-notch. As for romantic, it's not OIBL, maybe even a touch corporate, but there are different seating areas and, if you mentioned "anniversary" ahead of time, I'm sure they'd put you in a nice spot. However, it ain't cheap." [CH]

The Good News: Back when Ruth Reichl still had a job, she filed her thoughts: "Just back from lunch at the new Oceana. Great fluke tartare, shrimp, and a doughnut platter that includes one filled with salted caramel." [Twitter]

—Gabe Ulla


1221 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY