I had never been to Oceanaire and it was not in my list of “to go places”. But, last night a friend of mine reserved a table and I had the chance to go. I had actually heard good things about this restaurant, so I was looking forward to try it.

Let’s put it this way. I strongly discourage anyone from going there for the 25 for $25 and based on what I saw last night I will definitely not go back anytime soon.

You would expect that these special deals are to get you to try something nice that would make you go back for more.  This was not the case.

For 25$ (+ tip + tax + plus glass of wine = 40$) this is what I got:

  • Appetizer – three mini oysters with corn and a sauce. The sauce was overpowering and you could not taste the oysters much.
  • Main – sole cooked in butter with capers. Come on…I can make this at home and it does have some taste!  The alternative was a gnocchi with crab meat and broccolini.  Two of my friend tried it and they thought it was an “interesting” dish.
  • Dessert – a small very blend keylime pie.

Couple of other considerations:

  • 25$ menu is visible right away.  Although in a little corner of the main menu.
  • Plating was very underwhelming.  I felt there was no love put there.

At the end of the meal we agreed that the overall dinner was at most a 4 out 10.  Not recommended.

Oceanaire Seafood Room on Urbanspoon

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I dined at the 3rd Floor Third Cafe many times for business.  It’s a great place to take partners that are visiting us for a few days.

Last night we went for the 25 for $25 dinner with friends. 

Bottom line:  the Fish Cafe has a “special” 30$ menu most of the year.  I would highly recommend to go for that one and not the 25$ one.  Don’t get me wrong,  the 25$ is still pretty good…it’s just not as good as the other one.   The major difference is that the 30$ menu is a subset of the regular menu  and the 25$ has different dishes (and no…that’s not a good thing).

One thing I really liked is that the special menu is easy to “discover”. The Fish Cafe gives you the 25$ menu along with the regular menu.  That’s very good.

Appetizers – I would give it a 6/10.  There’s really nothing special (shrimp cocktail, gyoza or a salad).  Yeah…they are good, but I could just have it at home!

Main – I would give it a 7/10.  The selection is limited to pasta with seafood creme sauce, lamb shank and something else.  We had the lamb and the pasta.  The lamb was tasty and tender.  My friends me told me that the pasta was good (I am anti-seafood-with-creme so I could not taste it).

Dessert – 8.5/10.  I would highly recommend the creme brulee.  It’s actually really good.  The other desserts are good as well.

Overall it’s an ok deal.  At the very end we ended up spending 45$/person (we had wine and coffee).  If you have never been there and you want to check out the place then this is a good opportunity.    But I would rather wait for the 30$ menu to be abck. The food is much better and definity worth the money.

Third Floor Fish Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Friday night I was having drinks with my Italian friends and the topic came up.  We talked about it for a good chunk of time and it seems that by the end there was good agreement on the ranking.

Before I started writing this post I checked the pizzeria rankings on citysearch.  wow…in the audience top five there is none of the pizzerias that we have in our top 5.  It seems we are more in sync with the editors.  We both have the Tutta Bella Pizzeria in Columbia City as our #1.

There is another important point to make.  This entry ranks the best pizzeria and not the best pizza.  I will post about the best pizza later, for today let’s focus on the pizzeria.

#1  – Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria in Columbia City
what we like:  everything – atmosphere, pizza, staff/service, waiting line management, price
what we don’t like:  it’s a little out of the way

#2 – Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria in Wallingford
what we like:  the space, the pizza, waiting line management, price
what we don’t like: nothing really.  This is where we go the most, but the atmosphere is not quite the same as #1

#3 – Pizzeria da Guido in Crossroad
what we like:  pizza is great, place is reminiscent of some off-beat Italian pizzerias, no line
what we don’t like:  a little out of the way, crossroad mall it’s pretty sad at night

#4 – Via Tribunali in Capitol Hill
what we like: pizza can be very good, atmosphere
what we don’t like: waiting line, you cannot customize pizza (unbelievable!), unfriendly

#5 – La Vita e’ Bella in Belltown

Have fun at your next pizzeria trip!

What others think?

Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria (Wallingford) on Urbanspoon

Pizzeria Guido on Urbanspoon

Via Tribunali on Urbanspoon

La Vita E' Bella Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

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New guest author!

March 11, 2007

I am very happy to announce that we have a new guest author in our cucina: Lin Han. 

Lin is a big fan of the basic principles of easy, simple and fresh food.  She will be blogging about Asian food and Asian inspired dishes.  I have known her for many years and there are lots of things that standout about her cooking.  In particular, she is an explorer, so you get new recipes that often mix different cultures (for example pasta with fish eggs) and her plating is just awesome.  Of course it all tastes really good!

Check out her first contribution here

The other night I came home a little earlier and decided to cook something a little special for Hellai, but I did not want to spend more than 20mins cooking.  I opened the freezer and found that I had:

  • Frozen shrimp (couple of cups)
  • Frozen calamari (couple of cups)
  • Frozen peas (one cup)

In the fridge I had:

  • Fresh tomatoes (one)
  • white wine (half glass)

and in the pantry I had:

  • rustichella d’abbruzzo “cavatelli” (1/2 pound)
  • saffron
  • the usual suspects: olive oil, pepper, garlic and salt

Done!  I had enough for a quick and tasty dish.  I love fresh food, but hey, frozen food is sure great at times!

ingredients 

Step 1 – Start boiling the water in a pot.   After a few mins (let’s say five) get couple of spoons of olive oil in a pan on medium heat and start searing the garlic (one chopped clove).  Wait a minute and add the frozen shrimp and calamari.

soffritto 

Step 2 – In about 5 mins the shrimp and calamari will start to look completely defrosted and releasing water.  This is a good time to add half glass of white wine, the peas and the saffron.  I like to add the fresh chopped tomatoes just a few mins afterwards.  Don’t forget to add some salt and pepper.  By now you should have the pasta cooking.

almost done 

Step 3 – Let the sauce simmer on low heat as you wait for the the pasta to be ready.  A tip on the pasta: in this case I rather lean on having the pasta a little undercooked, since you will want to cooked with the saffron sauce for at least couple of minutes.  This will allow the pasta to really absorb the seafood/saffron flavor of the sauce.

pasta almost done 

Step 4 – You’re done!  Plate the pasta and serve.

final plate

Enjoy!

Max

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Ingredients (for two):

  • Spaghetti — 160-200g
  • Shitake mushroom — 6 large pieces
  • garlic — 1 piece
  • olive oil — 50ml
  • heavy creme — 300-400ml
  • parmesan — 3 tablespoon
  • salt/pepper — a little
  • milk (as necessary) — 50ml

 Method:

  • Boil spaghetti (add some salt and olive oil when boiling)
  • Sauce:
    • Add olive oil and garlic into a pan till moderately hot
    • Strengthen heat and add mushroom, quickly mix mushroom and add some salt and pepper
    • Add heavy creme and parmesan cheese
  • Add Spaghetti into the sauce, and quickly mix. (If sauce appears to be heavy, add the milk to make it lighter)
  • Transfer onto a plate and garnish with salt and pepper

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Last time I went to Italy an old friend of mine who owns a restaurant in my town recommended to buy a few bottles of the “Terra d’Aligi Tatone Montepulciano d’Abbruzzo 2001”. So, I did. It was a great recommendation. It’s a superb Montepulciano D’Abbruzzo and the price tag is very good (it is available at Wine Gallery for about 18$).

Things got even better.  Last Sunday I was at Trader Joe’s and they had a an “exclusive” on –  you guessed it right – the “Tato – Terra d’Aligi Montepulciano D’Abbruzzo 2002″…for only $5!  It’s not of the same quality as the bigger brother, but very good for an excellent price.  Highly recommended.

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