This is a review of Ocean Prime that I wrote for the current issue of Orlando Style magazine. Note: Ocean Prime will be closed all day Super Bowl Sunday.
Ocean Prime, an elegant supper club, is the latest tenant to open in the Rialto, a new development on Sand Lake Road’s Restaurant Row. The name is meant to convey the restaurant’s specialties: seafood (Ocean) and steaks (Prime).
It’s difficult to consider Ocean Prime without drawing comparisons to the Oceanaire Seafood Room at Pointe Orlando. Both offer a more upscale dining experience. In terms of décor and overall ambience, I’d give the edge to Ocean Prime.
The main dining room features warm wood walls with huge five-foot portholes that look through to the lounge area. (The dining room has its own bar for more intimate imbibing, a nice touch.) Touches of blue neon and a soft glow from drumlike light fixtures offer romantic notes, and white tablecloths and candles with frosted shades add a touch of elegance.
But in terms of the food, the kitchen has not quite reached its prime.
My guest and I started with the chef’s selection of East and West Coast oysters, which netted us two from each coast for a $12 charge. The person who delivered the bivalves could only tell us which side of the country they came from and was unable to narrow their origins further. The presentation was less than stellar, and the oysters themselves were rather puny.
(And by the way, the chef of the chef's selection is Todd Baggett, who is known to restaurant-goers in Central Florida from a number of venues, including the Boheme in downtown Orlando, Wolfgang Puck Cafe at Downtown Disney, Beluga at Winter Park Village and, just down the road from his new home, Moonfish.)
A “surf n turf” appetizer had lovely sea scallops and boneless short ribs plopped together in a smallish bowl with way too mashed potatoes. Good scallops, good ribs, bad presentation.
Onion soup was distinguished by a near lack of broth under heavy cheese; she-crab soup had a slight astringency and was not nearly as rich as it should have been.
I went the prime route with my entrée, choosing the ribeye, a gorgeous piece of meat cooked just right but unfortunately over salted.
Blackened swordfish, listed as a chef’s specialty, was a very nice hunk of fish, deftly cooked but fairly mundane. Wilted spinach and jalapeno corn tartar didn’t add much to the dish.
Desserts feature such creations as chocolate peanut butter pie, crème brulee and baked Alaska, which I’ve seen only on one other menu in town: the one at Oceanaire.
Service was professional and thorough, and once the kitchen makes the right improvements, Ocean Prime will be a good choice.