Hey, I like the feel of an Art Deco–era supper club in Miami Beach as much as the next guy snapping his fingers in pinstripes and wingtips. Ergo I swing by the bar at The Oceanaire now & again, a chain whose links seem to obtain their high polish from sentient beings, not lobotomized corporate lackeys—for better &/or worse, which really could be worse. The Lodo branch, for 1, resembles an independent operation more than a franchise in both its strengths & its weaknesses—the latter including above all human inconsistency, which I’ll take over robotic consistency any evening.
What’s both consistent & human here are the bartenders—always young yet seasoned, both warm & sharp. What’s consistent & molluscan are the oysters: with 7 or 8, Pacific & Atlantic, on ice at any given time, the raw bar here’s got the best selection that I know of by far. (McCormick & Schmick’s shmcmormick & schmick’s. When a West Coast operation opens 2 branches in an East Coast city—especially 1 as bursting with local pride as Boston—it’s asking to get smacked. But then, its owners appear to be born that way, eh?
to be played by Louis Anderson & Dennis Hopper at his most self-parodic
Point is I still won’t set foot in there. The Oceanaire got its start in Minneapolis, which is so dumb as to be endearing.) Shucking skills are fair—occasionally I hit a bit of grit, occasionally pine for an extra sip of liquor—but the regular opportunity to try new-to-me varieties like Wildcat Cove is reason enough to belly up.
Even before I started looking like a seahorse with flatulence (not that they’re not absolutely charming, by the by; I’ve seen them in tanks at the New England Aquarium’s exhibition hospital, & they just keep floating up), I often opted for salads here—the BLT salad, boasting thick slabs of beefsteak tomato (a name whose connotations of a sexy hermaphrodite I always did relish) & buttermilk dressing crumbled with yet more bacon, & the crab louis, a total crustacean overload, being particular faves. Most recently I ordered the chopped salad with crab & bay shrimp,
a carb-counter’s blessing if ever there was one, especially the dressing; it comes with a fine Greek vinaigrette, but I also asked for Green Goddess
& was so pleased by the pungency of both—the 1 full of lemon & even hinting at actual oregano, the other terribly sure of its anchovy self—that I barely noticed how I barely noticed the cheese til I saw the photo. It looks like feta; it tasted like cottage cheese—cottage cheese played by Milton in Office Space: