Ocean Prime Philadelphia Review: Pretty But Also Pretty Lousy

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When Cameron Mitchell’s steak-and-seafood emporium Ocean Prime debuted in Philadelphia in September, local gossip/photographer/blogger HughE Dillon posted on Facebook about the opening party, writing that the restaurant “must have a lot of confidence in their food” because “they comp’d 500 dinners.” I found that a bit odd, since comping 500 dinners might suggest the opposite. In any event, Dillon added that “the food was delicious.” But that was not my experience on Wednesday night.

Oh, the room is quite pretty, and it was filled with all sorts of well-heeled pretty people eating generally pretty-looking food. Rittenhouse personality Kelly Boyd looked positively radiant in her see-and-be-seen corner booth, somehow managing to look five years younger than she did a year ago. And lots of VIPs have been coming in, like basketball player Andre Iguodala and some really well known baseball player whose name escapes me right now.

But when a chain restaurant decides to open in Philadelphia’s prime dining district, charging $18 for three pieces of shrimp cocktail and in the mid-40s for an unseasoned hunk of meat (sauces and sides are, of course, additional), it had better be exceptional. And Ocean Prime Philadelphia just isn’t.




I was invited to dine at Ocean Prime Philadelphia by the chain's Chicago-based publicist, so they knew that I was coming in, and I was greeted by the chef and various management types. In other words, they have no excuse. Here's what I liked and what I didn't.

 

The Good at Ocean Prime Philadelphia:

• A beautiful, comfortable dining room that was crowded with attractive diners on my visit

• Mouthwash and a shoe-shine kit in the spotless bathroom

• Nice stemware

• High-quality cuts of meat (and they better be at these prices)

• The sommelier-suggested $123 bottle of 2007 Châteauneuf du Pape

• The truffled mac-and-cheese (which the chef sent out after we had problems with the sides we ordered; see below)

• The chocolate bomb dessert

• The bread

 

The Meh at Ocean Prime Philadelphia:

• The raw bar only offers two varieties of oyster, one of them being Blue Points

• The pedestrian "smoking" shrimp cocktail, priced at $18 for three pieces, as seen below

shrimp

 

The Bad at Ocean Prime Philadelphia:

• We had been seated for at least 15 minutes before we had anything alcoholic to drink on the table, and the booth of gents next to us somehow managed to get food before drinks

• The baked potato came out cold... not lukewarm, but cold

• I don't know what the "Béarnaise sauce" they're charging extra for actually is, but it is in no way Béarnaise sauce

• The white-truffled deviled eggs were perilously salty, and no one bothered to ask if anything was wrong with them after we ate two of the six and pushed the plate of four remaining eggs to the side

• The strip and ribeye were under-seasoned, as if someone just slapped them on the grill without any seasoning of any kind (maybe because they want you to buy the sauces?)

• Our server more or less disappeared on us, forcing us to glance around the room to look for him for several minutes, which no one took as a cue to come over to our table; in the end, we had to grab someone who was walking by in order to get help

• When my glass is empty, ask if I want another drink... it's that simple

• A restaurant should never serve Brussels sprouts that are merely steamed, without any kind of caramelization or added flavor

• The creamed spinach tasted like it had been bathed in Liquid Smoke (this was another side sent out by the kitchen)

• Not a single French Bordeaux on the wine list

 

Conclusion:

Enjoy the view, because that's the best thing that Ocean Prime Philadelphia has going for it.

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  • Flotz

    Maybe Yelp is a better outlet for your quips. You don’t deserve any designation as a true restaurant critic.

    • whoooolie

      all seems like legit complaints to me. doesn’t seem like we need to get the country’s most qualified restaurant critics out for this one.

  • Jazz

    No French Bordeaux? Did they have any other Bordeaux?

    I don’t doubt that the restaurant is no good, but this review reads like a child wrote it.

    • Philly’s Best BYOBs

      Bordeaux is French so French Bordeaux is a perfectly legitimate thing to say. Stop being a clueless wannabe-snob.

  • JimBucksbury

    I wonder if the people who keep inviting Victor to these things realize that no one respects his opinion? I will admit that that shrimp cocktail looks a bit ragged for an $18 dish.

  • John P O’Donnell Jr

    You must ask the customer if they like another alcoholic drink, to make sure they are not intoxicated. Other wise you would just be feeding them alcohol and the restaurant would be libel if they were to get in an accident. It’s a little thing called the law and responsible alcohol management.

    • ThanksForSharing

      So you agree with Victor, when my glass is empty, ask me if I want another drink. Good job.

      • John P O’Donnell Jr

        Evidently you don’t agree with the law or know it. Maybe instead of just writing a rant you should learn the restaurant business. God forbid someone was to crash into your car because the waiter just kept filling that person’s glass. Most of the large local beer distributors can point you in the right direction. And good luck with that because lf you could read what I wrote, you can clearly see I do not agree with him. He didn’t explain the reason why, just came off as a reviewer complaining about the service.

        • Chris

          You’re argument is irrelevant, the law is not in question here. If you read the article he is not complaining that the waiter didn’t fill it up. Nowhere is he complaining about the waiter refilling his drink without asking. He says ask me if i want another drink, which is exactly what you are arguing and thus proving ThanksForSharing’s point. You’re arguing over the same viewpoint. In fact, that statement simply says “drink” so for anyone knows it could just be water he wanted a refill on, you’re assuming it’s alcohol. Also, the word you’re looking for is “liable” not libel. Libel is slander but in writing. So good job, again. Bravo.

          • your you’re

            I agree. However, if you’re going to correct his grammar it is “your argument” not “you’re.”

  • Oskar

    This place is not about the food. Like the Capital Grille and any other “high-end” chain restaurant, it’s for folks who want to go out for a special occasion but don’t want to be challenged by anything. It’s about Americans who want to be able to go anywhere, buy exactly the same thing and never ever leave the comfort zone of bland familiarity.

    It wants to be that while staying true to its likely first purpose – some sort of poorly-conceived, tax-avoidance scheme.

    • suckeye

      I’m immediately wary of any chain restaurant based out of Columbus, Ohio, the poster child for cities filled with people “who want to be able to go anywhere, buy exactly the same thing and never ever leave the comfort zone of bland familiarity”.

      • Julie from Columbus, OH

        Ouch

        • suckeye

          Jeni’s is an exceptional example!

          • suckeye

            *facepalm* exception, I meant to say :|

          • Philly’s Best BYOBs

            Capital Grille is actually a good steakhouse. Stop being a clueless wannabe-snob.

          • phillysteak

            Capital Grille has gotten so watered down, not what it used to be.. They don’t even make they’re own salad dressings anymore.. Pathetic

          • Cap This

            The Capital Grille has NEVER made their own dressing, except the Caesar.

      • Jack Klompus

        Get over yourself.

    • Jack Klompus

      And you are always on the lookout for the next boutique “smell my own f*rts” proper dining experience where you can rub elbows with similar folks convinced of their own high brow status.

  • ICM22

    All Bordeaux are french.

    • Philly’s Best BYOBs

      Original

  • Jeffrey Henning

    I did happy hour there a couple weeks ago and really enjoyed it. Also did apps there another night and they were equally good. While I can agree that the food better be great for these prices, my experiences haven’t soured me on the place. Of course, if you really are hankering for seafood, Oyster House is about 150ft. away so…

  • JA

    I guess Ocean Prime Philadelphia is fortunate in the fact that you’re NOT widely read.

  • k

    We went there and it was awesome. Someone seems grumpy. The steaks were amazing, the seafood cobb-salad was fantastic and the service was insanely good. this guy must have gone to a different restaurant than we did

  • JR

    I dined there with a few friends. Two out of three steaks came out almost raw. Even after sending the steak back it still wasn’t cooked correctly. Really? The waiter was fine…he was actually apologetic. The manager was awful. He didn’t care at all, and it showed.

  • A.D. Amorosi
  • Guest

    Because when you go out to eat a shoe shine is always first ofnmy list???

  • RealityTeeVee

    Because when I go out to eat a shoe shine is always first on my list????

    • Guest

      I dunno, is it? You’d know better than anyone else.

  • Ken Nemeth

    When you have options like Barclay Prime, Butcher and Singer and Capital Grille, why on earth would you eat here?