I’m starting to pick up my stride for visiting restaurants during September’s Orlando Magical Dining Month. Today I report on Ocean Prime.
I recorded a promotional spot for MagDinMo that ran during the Red Chair Affair at the end of August. We shot the footage at Ocean Prime, and manager Michael Joffrion explained on camera some of the dishes his restaurant would be serving during the event.
I was genuinely impressed with the bargains represented here. For example, one of the entrees offered is the restaurant’s filet mignon (most people think of Ocean Prime as strictly a seafood restaurant, but the Prime in the name refers to steaks). The filet alone sells for $31 on the a la carte menu. If you choose the filet from the Magical Dining Month menu, you get the filet plus a starter and a dessert for $30. Someone get me a calculator!
I stopped in over the Labor Day weekend with a friend for dinner. After being seated at a booth in the elegantly detailed, supper-clubby dining room, we noticed we were not offered the Orlando Magical Dining Month menus. That’s not unusual -- especially when a restaurant is essentially losing money with its offerings (they’re still making money, but you know what I mean). But let that be a caveat: always ask for the menu; don’t just go in and order the dishes I tell you about and expect to get the special price. It doesn’t work that way. Because, it doesn’t.
For my first course I chose the sweet chili Point Judith calamari while my friend chose the French onion soup. My squid was lightly breaded and fried and drizzled with a sweet and peppery sauce. The soup had a hefty topping of melted aged Swiss cheese over a crouton and beefy broth, tinged with brandy. Both were ample portions. And this would be a good place to point out that OP does not reduce the size of the portions from its main menu to accommodate the MagDinMo prices.
I was tempted by the filet, but ultimately chose the crab crusted blue tilapia, one of the newer items on the regular menu. The tender fillet was broiled and served with green beans and fingerling potatoes.
My companion chose the braised beef short rib, a hefty hunk of meat cooked into tender submission and served with a rich cabernet reduction. It was accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes and glazed carrots. Even with the mashed potatoes, we decided to order some of the jalapeno scalloped potatoes from the regular menu’s list of side dishes. I’m glad I did: they were the best thing I had all night.
For dessert there was creme brulee and sorbets. The brulee was quite nicely executed, with a velvety custard beneath a crackly burnt sugar crust. The sorbets, both lemon and strawberry, were big scoops of cool lightness.
Service was professional and accommodating. My only disappointment was that I chose an evening when entertainment is not provided. Some piano music wafting through the dining music would have made the evening special.
Ocean Prime is at 7339 W. Sand Lake Road, Orlando. It’s open for dinner daily. Here’s link to its page on Orlando Magical Dining Month’s Web page, and here’s one for the Ocean Prime site. The phone number is 407-781-4880.