The Orlando Sentinel called Ocean Prime one of the “Best Steakhouses in the City” and was also voted “Best Bar” by its readers. With its location on Sand Lake Road, in what’s really Dr. Philips, it’s not far from the big named steakhouses Ruths’ Chris and Mortons and in close proximity to DelFrisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse – all vying for the lucrative tourist and conventioneer business.
My Wednesday night visit was my first, but I’ve heard many good things about Ocean Prime during my stint here in Orlando as I get acclimated to my new home city.
A friend and I arrived at 8:45 pm to have dinner and cocktails at the bar. When we arrived the place was packed! The very friendly and enthusiastic hostess greeted us, told her we were looking for two seats at the bar but there didn’t appear to be any. She said, “hang on!” In a matter of minutes, she found one bar stool, procured another and efficiently got us seated on a very busy night.
Kudos to her for that, as most of the time nobody is going to go out of their way to make room at a bar for you, it’s every man for himself in those situations!
The restaurant itself features a U-shaped bar, in an area where there are several high-top tables, live entertainment (this particular night it was a guitar vocalist), private booths with curtains for privacy, and a dining room.
Once settled in, the two bartenders came over, introduced themselves and presented us with drink and food menus. A whiskey drink for my friend and a dirty martini for myself were prepared quickly and turned out to be absolutely delicious. The bartender then asked my friend if she would like to try a bit of some of his favorite whiskey. He then brought her over a large “sample” which turned out to be delightful.
Now that the cocktails were met with overwhelming approval, it was time to scope out the restaurant’s steak and seafood menu.
Appetizers include calamari, shrimp, scallops, crab cake, steak tartare, a selection of sushi rolls as well as a raw bar offering with oysters, king crab and more. Salads and of course the steakhouse staple soups – onion and lobster bisque are offered.
My companion asked what the oyster selections were that evening. The bartender informed us that tonight’s selection included oysters from Washington state Maine. She opted to go with 3 from each location.
Me? Whenever there is steak tartare on the menu, I go for it!
A few moments later the food runner delivered our appetizers and pointed out the Maine oysters and the California ones.
What happened to the ones from Washington state?
Apparently, they ran out of the ones from the upper left of the country, subbed them with oysters from farther south, but didn’t tell the bartenders that the offering had changed.
When it was brought to the bartender’s attention, he apologized, offered to bring her 3 more of the east coast ones, but declined. Needless to say, the oysters were deemed delicious and none went to waste.
The steak tartare was a nice size portion and came with little pieces of crostini bread. The tartare itself had capers and shallots already mixed in as well as a hint of heat which I tend to think was some horseradish which added a nice touch. The tartare was… well, incredible.
Another round of drinks was ordered as we settled on what we were going to have for our main course.
In terms of seafood, snapper, grouper, salmon, scallops, crab, and seabass are all options as well as lobster and surf and turf. Chicken, lamb and a pork porterhouse round out the non-beef selections. When it comes to steak, four different sizes of filet including a bone-in one, New York and Kansas City strips and a ribeye complete the menu.
We both decided to go with a filet, despite my desire to go with the lamb chops.
My companion ordered the 10oz filet ($46) medium rare and peppercorn crusted. I ordered the same size, Pittsburgh rare with sauteed onions. For sides, we both went with the twice-baked potato ($13) and an order of brussels sprouts with bacon.
The medium rare peppercorn crusted filet was cooked the perfect temperature, my Pittsburgh rare was not anywhere close to rare – it was more medium well than anything. However, both filets were enjoyable.
The twice baked potatoes were a baked potato with the innards carver out, mashed, placed back in then topped with melted cheese and bacon. incredibly good, however, the only complaint we both had about these were whoever was scooping out the potato left a lot of “meat” on the skin and not enough taken out for the mashed.
Overall, Ocean Prime in Orlando was quite satisfying and stands on its own up against Ruths’ Chris, Mortons and even DelFrisco’s in a crowded Orlando market. It’s definitely worth checking out, as this won’t be my one and only visit!
Service throughout the night, from the time we walked in, was attentive and friendly, yet unobtrusive. The live entertainment at the bar was presented at the right volume where you could still have a conversation and not have to shout. The atmosphere is bustling with mostly business people or couples. Vacationing families with kids? There were none to be found (amen!).
Reservations can be made on OpenTable, parking is available either in the large lot or valet.