Catch of the Year

Classic American seafood finds a sequel in Miami

These are a la carte prices, so steak house-style side dishes are in order. Cole slaw, steamed broccoli, stir-fried baby bok choy, creamed corn, and hash brown potatoes boosted with bacon and onions are all portioned for at least four people to share, and each proved an unqualified success. That wasn't the case with a massive mound of dense mofongo laced with chicharrones — which seems out of place here until you consider that the chef is a native of Santurce, Puerto Rico. My wife, who shares the same heritage, would only say that Mr. Bernal's mother most assuredly makes a better mofongo than this.

A Puerto Rican mother will never, ever tell you that you are asking for too much food, but I overheard a waiter warn a gentleman dining alone at the next table just that, and suggest that he consider skipping either the salad or appetizer. This is bad for the restaurant's immediate bottom line, and bad for the waiter's own tip, but a wonderful, caring gesture toward the customer — the return business of whom will ultimately more than pay for the skipped course.

Big, fat, American desserts are tinged with nostalgia. Banana split. Root beer float. Warm cookies and milk. We tried those chocolate chip cookies in a "chipwich" guise, meaning vanilla ice cream sandwiched between them. The cookies were too hard, though, causing the ice cream to gush out upon cutting or biting. Canned whipped cream was piled on as well, which created one big, underwhelming mess. Baked Alaska was much easier to handle, and surprised with a cool core of tropical mango sorbet. If you're too full for dessert, which is likely, but want to end things on a sweet note just the same, chocolate or vanilla dixie cups of ice cream are available for ninety-five cents.

JOE ROCCO

Location Info

Map

The Oceanaire Seafood Room

900 S. Miami Ave.
Miami, FL 33130

Category: Restaurant > Seafood

Region: Central Dade

Details

900 S Miami Ave, Miami; 305-372-8862. Open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., dinner Monday through Thursday 5:00 to 10:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5:00 to 11:00 p.m., Sunday 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.

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More than one talented pair of kitchen hands are needed to steer this ship, so a tip of the captain's cap not just to Bernal (third time's a charm), but also to sous chefs Anthony Hoff and Kareem Anquin — all three graduates of Johnson & Wales University. As a matter of fact, a crisp salute to the entire kitchen crew, as every fish was impeccably cooked, every fried food golden brown, every vegetable bright green, every salad plate chilled, every entrée plate heated, every detail attended to.

Mary Brickell Village, five years behind schedule, is still pretty much a ghost town — and things are looking gloomy for the mall now that Publix has pulled out. Currently Starbucks and the aforementioned Chang's are Oceanaire's only neighbors; Grimpa Steakhouse, Blue Martini, and Rosa Mexicano are expected soon. All are chains, including Oceanaire — this is the twelfth branch, and the first in Florida (the second will be in Orlando). The original Oceanaire is considered to be among Minneapolis's finest dining establishments, and the one here jumps to the top of Miami's class as well. Be certain to make reservations, as every chair and stool gets occupied by 7:30 p.m., and earlier on weekends. That's another thing about classic American seafood houses. Everybody loves them.

900 S Miami Ave, Miami; 305-372-8862. Open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., dinner Monday through Thursday 5:00 to 10:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5:00 to 11:00 p.m., Sunday 5:00 to 9:00 p.m.

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