Oceana in Manhattan, NYC – The World Is My Oyster, A Matter of Food and Life

I have been thinking a lot about how to write this post because the experience was not only about the food. The food played a big part for sure but the experience was more about connecting the dots in life, much like how the oysters showed up on the plate for me that night. Oceana is a seafood restaurant located on 49th Street and Ave of the Americas in New York City. It’s supposed to be a great one with a premier locale.

Oceana belongs to the Livanos Family who owns Moderne Barn in Armonk and City Limits Diner in White Plains. I was not aware of this fact until I did the research on Oceana post my dining experience.  Interestingly, the performance of Oceana is consistent with my experiences at both restaurants in the Westchester county. It’s consistently fine but not outstanding. Read my earlier posts, click here for Moderne Barn and here  for City Limits.image Chef’s compliment – Something about sunchokes with cream. Couldn’t really hear the waiter. It was good. imageOysters: Naked Cowboy (LI), Summerside (PEI), Dabob Bay (WA), Totten Inlet (WA), Fanny Bay (British Columbia), Tokeen Bay (AK).  I won’t point fingers since I am not 100% sure… I believe starting at 12 o’clock is the Naked Cowboy (2 each) and then rotate clockwise to Tokeen Bay. If that were true, Dabob Bays were really dumb! They were tasteless and meaty with a low salinity. Naked Cowboys and Summerside were everything one would expect from east coast oysters. They were beautiful, sweet and strong with a mineral taste. imageTamari Glazed Steelhead Salmon: soybeans, water chestnuts, shiitake broth. Excellent. Excellent. This was the best for the night.imageSticky Toffee Pudding: rum caramel, coconut ice cream, toasted coconut. Oceana’s dessert menu sounded very promising but the reality is far from satisfactory. This was ok but I certainly would not spend my calories on it.imageChocolate Layer Trifecta: chocolate cake, toffee crunch, chocolate crémeux. I love chocolate. Chocolate makes me happy. When a menu item lists chocolate three times, I expect the dessert to deliver a pleasant punch if not a high. Hershey’s kisses is the quality of this dessert. Mediocre and main stream. I had two bites.imageChef’s Compliments: They came by twice to try to give us the same complimentary dessert. My friend believes that the chef went out to a Duane Reade across the street and bought a bag of these to distribute to the diners. Sadly, they taste true to the Duane Reade candies.

Whenever I have oysters, I highly anticipate. Oysters are a representation of best things life can offer – smooth, alive, salty and sweet, mineral/floral, and filled with changes and surprises. They never sucked for me until those two dumb oysters that night. On that tray of twelve, some were pleasant highlights and two were not worth eating, reminding me to check my cavalier attitudes at the door, pay attention to my present-and-now, connect the dots and don’t let the restaurant bring their oyster sampler. Take charge to find that oyster high. Live deeply and fully.

Consistently with the other Livanos Family restaurants, Oceana was fine but not outstanding.

This experience took place at

Oceana

120 W 49th St
New York, NY 10019

Psari Seafood Restaurant in Long Island City, NY- Extremely Fresh Seafood, Pleasing Oysters and Clams

Psari in Long Island City is a Greek seafood restaurant that offers fresh seafood and an open atmosphere. I sat at a bar with a friend for his birthday celebration. The experience is excellent until we got to the Red Snapper. This is going to be mostly a visual post because the photos will speak for the food. #FreshSeafood

Garlic Bread: On a scale of 1 to 10, this was a 5.

Mango Martini: Ketel One Vodka, mango liqueur, clear curacao, splash of lime juice. It’s an 8.

1/2 Dozen of Raw Blue Point Oysters and 1/2 Dozen of Raw Clams. This is heaven on ice.  Why Then World’s Mine Oyster,” William Shakespeare. Ten. Ten. Ten.

The aftermath of the oysters and clams. Would like more, please!

Grilled Octopus: This was a 10 for this preparation.

Shrimp Bisque: A 6.  It needed spice.

Smelts/Atherina (”Fish Fries”): Cute.  But it’s only a 6.

Horta: This is the Greek version of the greens, leafy and kale like. It’s a 7.

Red Snapper: Grilled and prepared with olive oil & fresh lemon juice. This market price was in the $20s for a 1.5 pound whole fish. It was tasteless.  The fish was fresh – you cannot fault that.  But why wouldn’t they put some salt on?

Lemon Potatoes: starchy and palatable. A 7.

Definitely recommend. The seafood is extremely fresh. You just have to figure out how to pick the right fish. Should have gone with the Bronzino or the Porgy.

This experience took place at

Psari Seafood Restaurant
32-10 36th Ave
Long Island City, NY 11106
(718) 786-6015

Reef Restaurant in Forest Hills, Queens NY- Funky Odor Mussels Ruined the Meal

I was at the Reef Restaurant in Forest Hills, Queens NY once before and I ordered the Grilled Octopus (octopus leg chargrilled will olive oil and vinegar). It was tender; it was charred but not too charred; it tasted like success. I was very excited to return to try other items on the menu. I went for the seafood again since that’s what Reef is all about.


Special for the Day, Seafood Risotto: lobster, mussels, clams, squid, and octopus. This item sounded so delicious when the waitress described it… but there was only one big problem. The mussels tasted funky: not bad, just not right. Fresh seafood should never smell and taste like seafood; it should be clean. But the mussels had an odor. The rest was fine and I did not have a tummy ache afterwards.

Filet of Sole Stuffed with Crabmeat: My companion squeezed too much lemon onto the sole and completely killed the sole taste. What an idiot. But even so, the stuffed crabmeat was a bit of an overkill. The asparagus was great, the best part of the meal.

All it took was a few not perfectly right mussels to ruin a meal… the odor! Will not return.

This experience took place at

Reef Restaurant
108-02 72nd Ave
Forest Hills, NY 11375
718-487-4564

Wanderlust – Goombays Grille & Raw Bar in Kill Devil Hills, NC.  Solved My Small Appetite Problem.

#Wanderlust continues with seafood!  There is nothing better than eating lots of raw oysters (local and fresh from North Carolina), steamed shrimps, crab legs and clams.  This will be my Easter Sunday brunch! I walked into Goombays Grille & Raw Bar in Kill Devil Hills, NC on N. Virginia Dare Trail, just two miles down from where I stayed last night.  Seeing that I was alone, I was immediately offered a seat at the bar where everyone is twice my age.  I thought that was very cute.  With my anti-social mood, I chose to sit at a table by the window.

 Here are my oysters.  Supposed to be a dozen but they gave me eleven.  I stopped the waitress and asked whether a dozen is defined as 12 per!  She came back and gave me two more to make it a baker’s dozen.  The shucking was not the best…  But for $12.99 a dozen, I cleaned them myself. This is the after math.  Elyssa, I did this for you!  It was delicious.  You could taste the seaweed and the slightly smoky flavor of the NortnCarolina water.  Also tasted alkaline.  Very different from the oysters around NY.

 The Steamed Platter Combo – crab legs, clams and the shrimps.  The Goombays is a Caribbean themed and focused restaurant.  The rub on the shrimps had a herb that I was not a fan of.  It is called JO – a variation of the old bay but it is a secret ingredient of Goombays.  The clams were small but juicy. The crab legs were boiled in water that is a tad too salty. Regardless, this is what I have done.  The seafood was fresh.  The oysters were the best since no cooking was involved.  The steamed combo was average.  The execution was not perfect.  The ingredients carried the dish.  Aah.  Still satisfied.  What a variety of seafood I just had.  I did it all myself!  The entire meal plus tip was $46.60.  Not too bad for fresh seafood.

Recommend.  :). Happy Easter with Oysters! 

This experience took place at

Goombays Grille & Bar in Kill Devil Hills, NC

1608 N Virginia Dare Trail, 

Kill Devil Hills, NC 27948

(252) 441-6001

Ruby’s Oyster Bar & Bistro in Rye, NY – Good for a Casual Lunch and Not Suitable for an Unforgettable Meal

I have been to Ruby’s Oyster Bar & Bistro in Rye many times for breakfast before but have never written a post on it. Finally, I remembered and took some photos. Ruby’s Oyster Bar & Bistro is located on Purchase Street in Rye, or the center of the town. I was introduced to the place by a friend a couple of years ago and we have been going there for breakfast once in a while. Ruby’s is known for its Oysters (hence the name) but I have not had the privilege to try the oysters there. Today, we stayed with the well-known burger and salad.


Grilled Bistro Burger with Blue Cheese and Rosemary Brown Sauce. My friend and I shared the entrées. Ruby’s was so accommodating and made two mini portions of the burger and the salad for us. Very accommodating. They get an A+ for customer service. The burger was well done, per my friend’s request; unfortunately, that made the meat dry. But it was still enjoyable enough.


Grilled Salmon Cobb Salad. This was a nice change for the palate from the burger. Standard fare. Fresh and grilled well. But nothing to jump up and down for.

I will need to go back for the oysters and see if it lives up to the name sake. Otherwise, Ruby’s is a nice place to have casual or business lunch but the memory of the food faded rather quickly in my mind. Don’t get me wrong – the food was decent to above average and the customer service is A plus.  But the conversation I had with my friend was a lot more exciting than our entrées.  Maybe it’s an ordering error on our side.

This experience took place at

Ruby’s Oyster Bar & Bistro
45 Purchase Street
Rye, NY 10580
914-921-4166

Truluck’s Seafood, Steak, Crab House in Boca Raton, Florida – Amazing Ingredients!

I was in Boca Raton, Florida for some business meetings and had the pleasure of eating dinner at Truluck’s with my work friends. The seafood was amazing. Truluck’s is primarily a seafood restaurant that offers fresh and seasonal seafood from their own fisheries. When I was there in mid February, Florida’s Stone Crabs were in season.

The restaurant was elegant and open-aired. For a New Yorker, February in Florida is a dream come true. Incredible seafood in a beautiful restaurant, the warm air temp completed a perfect night. But I will say that being away from all the snowstorms and my daily life was such a nice change of pace. That sensation of the sweet escape probably skewed my taste buds.

IMG_1696
Fresh Florida Stone Crab Claws: Served chilled and pre-cracked with a specialty mustard sauce. These crab claws were the best claws I have had in a very long time. They were completely clean with no funny smells. The meat was tender with crab juices. Once you put it in your mouth, it slowly melted. This was my first experience with the Florida Stone Crabs. I was very impressed.

IMG_1695
Miso-Glazed Seabass: MSC certified South Georgia Chilean seabass served with crab fried rice and chilled cucumber slaw. Kayla, my strategist and an excellent fisherwoman (you should seen the fish she caught), went back and forth on her consideration between this and the Cioppino (Fresh fish, shrimp, mussels, calamari, and crab simmered in a tomato and herb broth). I was so looking forward to trying the Cioppino… Or bouillabaisse in French.

IMG_1693
South African Lobster Tail: The Rolls-Royce of lobster with Balsamic-Glazed Portabellos and Sautéed Green Beans. This was unholy. The tail was so big and meaty. And so good. This was the first time I felt I had gotten a lot more than what I deserved. Felt rather spoiled. I am not a wasteful person and hate to not finish my plate. I left the portabello mushrooms which by themselves were a meal. I also left the green beans. In comparison, my “little” friend, Danielle, did well with her lobster tail; she shared and thoroughly enjoyed the bounty of the sea.

IMG_1694
Sautéed Jumbo Lump Crab Cake: With house made tartar sauce, parmesan mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. Thanks to Kristin (the thin runner who I aspire to run like and look like in the near future), I was able to taste this dish. In full disclosure, this is a dinner with my work friends who help me create marketing content and strategy. They all know that I write this blog so I got a piece of every dish they ordered!

IMG_1692
Blackened Grouper Pontchartrain: smothered with crawfish tails, shrimp, and blue crab in a spicy piquant Creole sauce. Did not taste this one but my social media colleague (Wally!) loved it. I am sure by now he had tweeted, posted to FB, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. Vine is coming up in our repertoire shortly, with highly engaging video content! We will make seemingly dry and boring products come alive with creativity and imagination. Digital marketing at its best.

IMG_1689
Sweet and Spicy Icelandic Cod: True cod broiled and served with blue crab guacamole, tomato, jalapeños, and sweet chili sauce. Thanks to Matt (our SEO guru), I regretted my decision to order the South African lobster tail. This dish is like a beautiful and intelligent woman in an evening gown. Not only is she pleasing to the eye, she is also interestingly opinionated and a superb conversationist.

If the South African lobster tail is the Rolls-Royce, this is the futuristic spacecraft. It’s more refined. The taste is layered and complex. The cod, unlike what one may expect, is soft and delicate. Loved the kick from the jalapeños and the sweet chili sauce.

IMG_1688
Sweet Potato Fries: everyone was making a big fuss about how good these are. They are good but they are just fries.

IMG_1691
Key Lime Pie: Same comments as the sweet potato fries. For the record, Wally disagrees. He had once attempted to bring home multiple Florida key lime pies in his carried-on luggage for the family.  He was forced to check his pies! Even all mushed up, he said they were still delicious. He is a die-hard key lime fan.

IMG_1690
Chocolate Bag: This is sinful. This is a bag made out of chocolate and stuffed with all sort of savory sweet things such as cookies, raisins, truffles, M&Ms etc..

This was a highly memorable event. Food was amazing. Seafood was one of the best I have had in years. The price sticker was also shocking. Birthday and anniversary dinners, anyone?

This experience took place at

Truck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House
351 Plaza Real
Boca Raton, FL 33432
In Boca Raton at Mizner Park.
561-391-0755

Ten Twenty Post in Darien CT – Oysters! Oysters! Oysters!

On a cold February night, I shared a dozen and a half of oysters with my friend, E, at Ten Twenty Post in Darien, CT. It is a seafood restaurant that is filled with middle-aged folks and older folks. We felt a bit out-of-place. But no matter, we were there for the oysters. We started immediately with a dozen oysters and truffle fries.

IMG_1658
We started with the east coast oysters and made our way west.

East Coast: There is the Raspberry Point, Irish Point,and Blue Point. The Blue Point won for me that night – with a nice combination of salinity and the taste of iron and mineral.

West Coast: Pacific Orchard, Komo Gway, and Kumamoto. Surprisingly the Komo Gway was the best, surpassing the Kumamoto. The Kumamoto under-performed for being less creamy, meaty, and buttery. Just writing about this now brings me back the sensation of slurpping up the juices and swallowing the oysters.

The oysters rarely disappoint. Usually, it’s the human that disappoints. This statement can pretty much be applied to everything in life. Machines vs. humans? Machine! Oysters vs. humans? Oysters! Many oysters we had that night were not shucked properly and contained a lot of shells. When we inquired politely about whether they had a new guy in the kitchen, the bar tender gave us real attitudes. This particular bar tender had a crooked face and seemed to think that he knows so much better than the paying customers.

IMG_1659
Truffle fries: E and I always order the truffle fries to go with our oysters. It’s a tradition she taught me. It slows down how fast I eat the oysters. It’s a pacer.

IMG_1660
By the time we got to dessert, we were still hungry. We had 1.5 dozen of oysters, two orders of fries and this bread pudding. Again, the mistake we made was asking the human to recommend a dessert. We went with the recommendation and it was terrible.

Not too proud of ourselves, we still finished the dessert due to hunger. When the waiter asked how it was, we told the truth and were mocked. Both E and I were a little surprised at how rude he was.

To the Management of Ten Twenty Post: We love oysters. We wanted to love your restaurant. But your staff was discourteous and your oysters were not shucked properly. We hope this post gets a high search engine ranking and shows up on all your organic search results. If your sister restaurant, Elm Street Oysters House can offer great service and oysters, so can you. And most importantly, the customers are always right.

In conclusion, I profess my love for eating these little creatures. I just need to be careful where I go to fulfill my heart’s desire.  It has been almost a month now.  It is probably time for oysters again. Who is with me?

This terrible experience took place at

Ten Twenty Post
1020 Post Road,
Darien, CT 06820
(203) 655-1020