It’s hard to say no to a good wedge salad.”
“Not all chain restaurants are the same,” my friend told me while biting into a crispy piece of calamari. “Some chains just go for the quick buck with mega-meals. Others want that fast casual meal — you still have waiters — but not so low brow.”
400 J Street, San Diego
“Ok, I get you,” I said, while making sure to dip my calamari into the sweet spicy dipping sauce. “So what about this place?”
Calimari was crisp.
I was referring to the Oceanaire Seafood Room, a restaurant that is part of a nationwide chain but doesn’t feel like one.
“Easy. This is an expense account place. The place where you eat when you have an expense account — or a generous friend.”
I wanted to try the Grilled Oysters Rockefeller, but....
We started off with the buttermilk-fried calamari ($19), which was crisp thanks to the golden brown coating.
My friend had the bread pudding.
I wanted to try the Grilled Oysters Rockefeller, which came with spinach and bacon ($15), but I prefer my oysters raw accompanied by the brine.
I had the sorbet.
For a salad, I was tempted by the Salt Roasted Beet Salad ($14), but cooler heads prevailed. My friend said, “It’s hard to say no to a good wedge salad.” I went along with him, but was a little skeptical since iceberg lettuce is the green most preferred by people who hate greens.
Oceanaire doesn’t force chefs into a box.
The lettuce on the Oceanaire Wedge was crisp and held up to that salty bacon and creamy blue cheese dressing.
Oceanaire may be a chain, but it’s one that doesn’t force chefs into a box.
My friend and I took advantage of this and ordered entrees that were unique to the San Diego Oceanaire. I had the Dynamite Wild Ecuador Sea Bass ($55), which was flavored with firecracker sauce, crab topping, unagi and green onion.
My friend got the Guajillo Alaska Halibut ($49), which was flavored with a New Mexico chile puree and a beurre blanc and served with rice and black beans.
For dessert, he had the bread pudding with vanilla ice cream: A cool take on a great old school dish. I was in the mood for something tangier so I had the blood orange sorbet and strawberry sorbet.