A setting meant to remind diners of ocean liner

TABLE TALK

November 16, 2005|By SLOANE BROWN

Another popular D.C. eatery has come to Baltimore. The Oceanaire Seafood Room opened just last weekend in the new Spinnaker Bay Building in Fells Point East (or is it Inner Harbor East? At any rate, it's in the area at the foot of President Street, where all that new construction has been going on).

This is No. 8 in the upscale restaurant group, with other locations in Minneapolis, Seattle, Dallas, Indianapolis, San Diego, Atlanta and the aforementioned D.C.

The Web site describes Oceanaire as feeling like a 1930s ocean liner. Or, as Baltimore's executive chef/operating partner, Paul Jarrett, suggests, think 1940s-'50s-style supper club.

Red leather booths and banquettes, a brushed-steel bar and oyster bar at one end of the room and cherry-wood panels are used to break up the large dining room. That ocean-liner effect is there with the replicas of large fish mounted on the walls and the large "captain's table" in the center of the room for parties of eight to 12. The entire area -- including two private dining rooms -- can seat about 260.

"The way our menus work is that we try to be regional," Jarrett says. "We have certain core items. But each restaurant's specials are different and change from day to day based on [fish and seafood] availability. ... The concept is ultra-fresh seafood prepared perfectly and in large portions. Everything is a la carte, like an upscale steakhouse, with sides served separately. They are big sides, meant to share."

Those sides -- like roasted shallot mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, matchstick fries and steamed asparagus -- run from $5.95 to $12.95. And they're not the only things that are big.

Jarrett says at least 12 species of fish will be available every day and served in portions ranging from 10 to 16 ounces. Some of those he says he's got right now are wild Virginia rockfish, Cape Hatteras swordfish, Cape May bluefish, broiled Nantucket Bay scallops, mahi-mahi from Ecuador and Tasmanian steelhead trout. You can order them either grilled or broiled, and the prices start at $19.95 and can get up into the $30 range.

Appetizers include 12 varieties of oysters ($2.15 apiece), clams casino ($8.95) and fresh Florida stone crab claws ($34.95).

You'll find the Oceanaire Seafood Room, 443-872-0000, at 801 Aliceanna St. Its hours are 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Valet parking is available for $6.

Hungry for Italian?

The Mount Washington hangout McCafferty's may have bitten the dust, but a new Italian restaurant, Buono, has risen in its place.

Jeremiah Stewart, who owns the place with Eduardo Schiano, says they gutted the space and built it back up with a contemporary Mediterranean feel. It has lots of oranges, yellows and light blue, archways, wrought iron, tile, a dropped ceiling (to make it more intimate) and a granite inlaid bar.

Stewart says the back area is semiprivate with a balcony. The bar is separate and has three televisions. It's also nonsmoking, like the rest of the restaurant. "It's nice to walk through the dining room and actually smell the food," Stewart says, "and I'm a part-time smoker myself!"

If you know Towson's Strapazza, and Jacksonville's Strapasta's, you know Buono's menu. Schiano used to own the former and still owns the latter. Pasta dishes include linguine calamari ($16), penne Bolognese ($14) and fettuccine alfredo ($12). Entrees include classics like veal parmigiana ($15), chicken marsala ($15), and filet mignon sauteed with mushrooms and topped with prosciutto and mozzarella in a white-wine garlic sauce ($22).

Buono, 410-466-3884 is located at 1501 Sulgrave Ave. Its hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

If you have information regarding a local restaurant's opening, closing or major changes, please e-mail that information to sloane@sloanebrown.com or fax it to 410-675-3451.

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