OCEAN PRIME: STEAK DONE BETTER THAN EVER!
by Andrew Chalk
Ocean Prime has been an Uptown stalwart since 2009, but this media event was my first time back since the pandemic. It was like revisiting an old friend and finding him in as fine a fettle as ever.
The sine qua non for any steakhouse is, of course, the quality and preparation of the steak. We went to the heart of the selection with New York Strip ($58/14oz) and Ribeye ($63/16oz), pairing the former with Béarnaise Sauce ($7) and the latter with Black Truffle Butter ($9).
I cut the New York Strip thin, slice by thin slice, periodically slathering the result with béarnaise. The meat was unctuous and compliant to the tooth, earthy and lightly seasoned on the palate. The edge had an unmistakable crust that framed the tight-textured flesh. The purist in me said that it was perfect like that. The sauce aficionado adored the tangy tarragon and creamy body of the béarnaise clinging to the outside. Either paired consummately with a glass of Justin 2018 Isosceles ($18) from California’s prodigious Paso Robles.
Ribeye is my go-to for two things. First, on its own it is profoundly buttery, moist, and sweet from the higher fat levels in the sinews. Its texture is easy to cut and chomp through. Second, I frequently choose it because I am drinking a young red wine, a category prone to high tannins. For example, a cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, or merlot. The fattiness of the meat softens the tannins in the wine.
Maintaining the quality and consistency of its meat is a non-negotiable item for every steakhouse. The secret ingredient for Ocean Prime is that founder Cameron Mitchell, 100 restaurants ago, while developing the concept for his first in 1993, came to a verbal agreement with a local supplier, Michael’s Finer Meats, to supply all of his restaurant’s steaks to a set of agreed specifications. Thirty years later, Michael’s (now Michael’s Finer Meats and Seafood) is still the steak supplier, and the agreement is still verbal.
Sides matter, and Ocean Prime offers over a dozen, all prepared to be first-class members of the meal. The Moll wanted something ‘green vegetable-ish’ so Asparagus and Hollandaise ($16) fit the bill.
I knew that a secret indulgence at Ocean Prime is one of the best mac & cheese expressions in town. Specifically, the Baked Lobster Mac & Cheese ($44) made with Tillamook Cheddar (a creamery we knew was legit from a visit last year on a trip to the Oregon Coast). This side is a meal in itself,.with al dente macaroni and rich creamy piquant cheddar streaks coating the outside. One mouthful says indulgent.
MAINS ARE NOT CONFINED TO STEAK
There is Gerber farm farm-raised chicken ($37), Berkshire Pork Chop ($48), and Colorado Lamb Chops ($58). There is also a redoubtable seafood section where Chilean Sea Bass ($59) is not only the most popular item but also the most popular single dish on the menu. Imagine that, a steakhouse where “Fish Rule!”.
APPETIZERS AND DESSERTS
Of course, you can precede your steak with oysters or something else from the raw bar section of the menu, or a soup or salad. or one of the appetizers. It is just so hard to choose (I love the Lobster Bisque here). We eventually settled on the White Truffle Caviar Deviled Eggs ($19), a half dozen supremely soft deviled eggs whipped to a crescendo and infused with truffle oil topped with a volcanic explosion of caviar. And, the Jumbo Lump Crab Cake ($26) served with a side of sweet and sour slaw that was so good that even I (not a slaw lover) helped ensure that it was all eaten. A glass of Far Niente 2019 Chardonnay ($18) went well with both. And a mocktail Martini proved a great non-alcoholic choice. While the menu does not list mocktails, it turns out the staff will mock (prepare without alcohol) almost any cocktail on the fly. Thanks to our alert waitress, Kate, for clueing us in!
I haven’t even got into the sushi, a selection of elaborate hand rolls that warrant a separate visit, and you will salivate uncontrollably in your lap if I mention the Ten Layer Carrot Cake (18) dessert. Divine as it is.
Service was exemplary from Kate and sous chef Jake (a good front-of-house man in the back of the house). The dining room is opulent and spacious enough for discussions. So come for the steak and relish everything else!