All the ingredients for a great meal at the Ocean Club were there -- ambience, ocean view, full moon, innovative menu, perfect service. Too bad the mix wasn't harmonious, at least in the food category.
I'm hoping it was a kitchen fluke since I've been here before with more successful results. But at today's prices, it's hard to be forgiving of a botched meal.
Oh, there were pluses. The homemade rolls were terrific, the choice of wild rice or potato was nice, the ratatouille was delicious and the desserts were outstanding.
Still, these didn't diminish the problem of weak appetizers and entrees. The shrimp and bacon Worcestershire ($7.50) got off us off on the wrong foot with overcooked shrimp and undercooked bacon. The raw oysters ($5.95 for a baker's half-dozen of seven) weren't much better. True, it's not an "R" month, but when a restaurant offers a raw bar, you expect more than warm oysters served with a ketchup cocktail sauce.
The meal, unfortunately, didn't improve with the entrees. The veal Jameson ($21.95) had so much possibility -- veal flambeed with Irish whiskey and finished with a mustard/dill sauce. But the whiskey and excellent sauce weren't enough to salvage the three thin veal medallions that were not only shoe-leather tough but charred around the edges. To make matters worse, they were topped with tiny, tough shrimp.
Our other dish -- orange roughy festiva ($16.95) -- was an improvement. The New Zealand white fish -- once you found it under a conglomeration of unripe, chopped tomatoes, smoked oysters and scallions -- was cooked perfectly. But where were the sun-dried tomatoes listed on the menu?
Also, keep in mind that the Ocean Club is a night spot with live music that usually starts at 9:30 p.m. This is great if you want to linger and burn off calories on the dance floor, but may interrupt any quiet after-dinner conversation you were considering. The bar atmosphere, though, is what makes the restaurant fun, so just save any serious confabs for a stop at the outdoor bar, where the palm trees sway and you can hear the ocean lapping on the shore.
But don't leave before ordering dessert. Even the hefty price -- $4.50 each -- wasn't a deterrent. The strawberries Chantilly was a regal offering. Served in a goblet, the ruby-ripe berries were interspersed with a decadent whipped cream laced with amaretto and blackberry brandy. The English lemon cake was also a delight. The triple-layer white cake was filled with a tart, really-lemon-tasting frosting. Ahh, at least it was a wonderful ending.
49th Street and the ocean, 524-7500.
Hours: Lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; dinner, 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express.
Features: Seafood, beef.