By Judi Curry / OB Rag
As so often happens to those of us living in San Diego, we have friends and relatives that come to visit and we go out to eat with them. Usually when that happens I make a suggestion as to where we might like to go, depending on their preference for food. But this time my friend Nel was staying at the Catamaran Hotel with her children. While they were at the beach, we were going to have lunch together.
As I drove from Ocean Beach to Pacific Beach I could not believe the traffic on the road, particularly at the Sea World entrance. I drove down to the beach, circumventing, I thought, the traffic, only to find it was horrendous all along the beachfront streets. I had thought we would eat at one of my favorite places – The Mission – but the line was so long as I drove by that I knew Nel and I would not eat there.
She suggested the Oceana, because it is the restaurant in the hotel. It wasn’t until I began writing this review that I found it was listed as an “upscale eatery.” It talked about the beautiful view – it is – and that seafood is their specialty.
We were seated inside the restaurant – there was outside seating also but it was a cold afternoon,. In the center of the restaurant was a beautiful pseudo aquarium that had jelly fish swimming around in it. It was lighted, and I would imagine at night it’s spectacular.
The menu was served to us on heavy boards, with the drink menu on one side and the food menu on the other. Printed on the back of each menu was the other side of the menu. The heavy board was not needed and the menu kept slipping out of the rubber band holding it in place.
The menu had six “starters” – soups and small salads; ($9-15); Five Flatbreads – $11-13); six salad bowls – $13-18); ten “plates” $13-18.50); eight “sweets” – all $9, and drinks, brews, and wines.
In addition to the menu, there was a smaller menu featuring a sushi bar. There was a “cold bar” featuring ceviche, spring rolls, crab lets ($24), shrimp cocktails, etc.
Two of the items that I found interesting were the “Oceana Seafood Tower”, which consists of shrimp cocktail, crab claws, king crab, oysters on the half shell, ceviche, mussels and clams plus dipping sauces. This serves 2-6 people and you can get it in 2 tiers for $75 or three tiers for $95. The other item I found of interest was an “Omakase Platter” which was the chef’s choice of five rolls – a total of 40 pieces, to serve 4 or more, for $60. There were also 8 sushi rolls available.
Our waitress, Bojana, was from Serbia, and was delightful. We talked about the situation of the old Czechoslovakia and how different parts of the country speak with a different dialect.
It should be noted that on all the menus there were indications of whether the item was “v” – vegetarian, “vn” – vegan or “g” – gluten- free.
Nel elected to have the “Drugstore Hamburger” ($16). It was a house-ground Harris Beef patty, tomato, red onion, lettuce, dill pickle, mayo and fries.
I ordered the Scallop Salad, on a bed of rice noodles ($18).
Shortly after we ordered, a waiter came by with a basket of bread and asked us which one we would like. There was sourdough, an orange biscuit, and chipotle and he put our choice on the bread plate on the side. He apologized that he forgot the butter, and returned shortly with a small dish of nice soft butter. The bread was not heated, but fresh.
The waitress then came by and placed two small jars on the table. We asked what it was and was told it was ketchup for Nel’s fries. (Doesn’t seem too practical – and must cost quite a bit if they give them two out to all their patrons. It is doubtful that one would ever be finished.)
Nel’s hamburger was very large, and there was even a larger portion of French fries. She was happy with her order and could not finish it.
My scallop salad was interesting, because scallops – maybe two – had been sliced into three slices and they were placed on the top of the rice noodles. They were very good and tender, but the noodles were so oily that I did not eat them. Nothing is as bad – well, almost nothing is as bad – as having a mouth full of oil!
I would have liked to have another piece of bread with the salad, but I never saw the waiter again, and Bojana never asked if everything was ok. (Nel felt that the service was very slow.)
Our waitress packaged up our remaining food for us, and we both had left-overs to take home. (Although I did not eat mine).
Nel thought it would be fun to order dessert, so she ordered the “made to order” brownie and ice cream. I ordered the Bailey’s Irish Crème Panna Cotta, with a chocolate ganache with shortbread. Both desserts were $9.
There is no question that the brownie was made to order. We waited 25 minutes for it. It was served in an iron skillet that was very hot to the touch. The vanilla ice cream in the center melted quickly. It was very tasty, albeit very sweet.
My Panna Cotta was nondescript. It was pretty, but had little flavor. If it had any Bailey’s it must have evaporated with the preparation. It was very large, and I did not finish it.
Nel ordered a bottle of water that cost $4. I had ice tea that was $3.25.
The total amount for our lunch came to $63.67 and with the tip it was about $75. Pretty stiff for a lunch that did not have any alcohol and even though the view is nice, for a resident of the city it did nothing for me. Would I go back? Probably not. There are too many other places that offer a view that less expensive with better food.
Address: Oceana Restaurant, Catamaran Hotel
3999 Mission Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92109