Oceana (St. Thomas) – Still Outstanding

Oceana SnapperEach year when we visit St. Thomas we schedule our special dinner at Oceana. Located within an historic building on a southern point in Frenchtown, Oceana blends the beauty of the building with incredible food. According to the website, the estate was settled in the 1670s and in 1894 converted to the Russian Embassy.

Drink orders were taken and delivered and the bread service commenced. I was a little disappointed in the butter. They were butter pats individually wrapped in the gold foil, a la a NJ diner. At these prices it was a major flaw in the dinner and management should be ashamed of itself for this decision.

For my appetizer I ordered the KURABUTA PORK BELLY AND DIVER SCALLOP, described as “Molasses Braised Pork Belly, Brown Butter Seared Scallop, Baby Spinach, Crispy Parsnip and a Spicy Tomato Jam.” It arrived on a long rectangular plate with the scallop and belly occupying the ends, respectively, and were separated by a dollop of spicy roasted tomato gastrique. I decided to work from the lighter side and started with the scallop. It was delicious, perfectly seared on both sides and when lightly dipped in the tomato jam created a wonderful combination. I was less enthralled with the cube of pork belly. The meat was flaccid and flavorless and there was barely a hint of the molasses. Dipping in the sauce made it barely passable, nowhere close to its plate counterpart. It was completely out of character with the preparations I have enjoyed over the years.

The special entree for the evening was a surf and surf, freshly caught red snapper plus seared gulf shrimp, served with purple potato mash and butter beans. The snapper was excellent, beautifully seasoned and prepared, with a touch of crispiness on the exterior while moist and juicy on the interior. They worked perfectly with the potatoes and beans that added a touch of earthiness. The issue with the shrimp was that they were sitting next to the snapper. They were very good, maybe a little under-seasoned, but the snapper was just outstanding.

Others ordered a variety of entrees and one needs a special mention, not for the centerpiece but the accompaniments. The garlic shrimp were served with “Asiago Grits” and a “Local Season Pepper Gastrique.” The grits were outstanding and the sauce was spectacular. The sweet and spicy balance was divine; this was one of the best gastrique I have ever tasted.

I ordered a trio of ice cream for dessert. Be advised that the amount of the trio is probably half in total of a regular order of ice cream. The three flavors were chocolate, apple-cinnamon, and almond. The chocolate was a light chocolate. My favorite was the apple cinnamon which was delightful.

Service was exceptional, spot on and not invasive.

Overall it was a wonderful dinner. Many restaurants back in the US can learn excellent food and service from Oceana.

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