Wednesday, October 8, 2014

(201) Restaurant Week: Oceanaire Seafood lunch isn't for dieters

Once you ask The Oceanaire Seafood Room's kitchen to hold the brioche bun and matchstick fries, this is what your lunch of fish and undressed garnish looks like, above, during a Restaurant Week promotion sponsored by (201) magazine.

The complete Blackened Barramundi Sandwich with Creole Remoulade, Bibb Lettuce, Tomato, Red Onion, Brioche Bun and Matchstick Fries is one of three main courses available for lunch during the promotion. A three-course lunch at the Hackensack restaurant is $16.95 and a three-course dinner is $39.95.


If you're watching your weight or cholesterol, a three-course lunch during (201) Restaurant Week may leave you hungry.

On Tuesday, I invited my wife and brother-in-law to join me for a fix-priced, three-course lunch at The Oceanaire Seafood Room, an expensive fine-dining restaurant in The Shops at Riverside, an upscale mall in Hackensack.

During the magazine-sponsored Restaurant Week, from Oct. 5-9 and 12-16, lunches at participating restaurants are $9.95, $12.95 and $16.95, and dinners are $19.95, $29.95 and $39.95.

Compare that to the semi-annual Restaurant Week promotion in Manhattan, where hundreds of the city's best places offer three-course lunches for $25 and three-course dinners for $38, and the discounts are offered for a month or longer.

The (201) Restaurant Week menu at The Oceanaire Seafood Room doesn't allow any substitutions and no sorbet or fruit is offered for dessert.

Judging from my experience, the promotional price for lunch is too low, especially at a place like The Oceanaire Seafood Room, where grilled fish of the day, with mashed potatoes and asparagus, is $25 at lunch.

The lunch menu also lists yellowfin ahi tuna -- grilled, broiled or seared, and brushed with white wine-lemon butter, but with no side dishes -- for $38.

A new fish

I wanted the Blackened Barramundi Sandwich, mainly because I have never eaten the flaky white fish from Australia, but didn't want the bun or matchstick fries.

Our waiter, Josh, described the fillet as being three-quarters of an inch to an inch thick, but my naked piece of fish wasn't that thick, nor was the piece of barramundi in my brother-in-law's sandwich.

I asked the waiter to hold the bun and fries, and wondered if I could get an undressed baked or sweet potato instead. 

He said the restaurant didn't have a baked potato, and a sweet potato would cost extra.

The plate held a small fillet of fish, but I had to ask for a wedge of lemon, as well as dressing for the side of tomato and onion slices, and lettuce that are used in the sandwich.

Lots of crab

My wife chose the Crab Cake Sliders, and loved the generous amount of crab meat in them. 

We started with a small plate of excellent Caesar Salad or a cup of Mushroom Bisque, the soup of the day.

Dessert was Cheese Cake or Key Lime Pie. My request for fruit turned out to be fruitless.

I probably should have ordered a main course of Prince Edward Island Mussels with Dijon Cream, Spanish Chorizo and Truffled Matchstick Fries, but I don't eat meat and didn't want "cream."

Delicious, crab-filled Crab Cake Sliders are available for lunch during the (201) Restaurant Week promotion.

A small Caesar Salad. My wife poached my croutons.

Thick carpet, dark wood, comfortable chairs, tablecloths and cloth napkins at lunch. The staff is large, but lunch service was casual on Tuesday, even though the dining room was far from full. We asked for our desserts to go.

A table setting.

An oyster bar and, beyond, an open kitchen.

Despite all of the employees I saw at the restaurant on Tuesday, none of them seemed to be monitoring the men's room, which was disgusting. The spout on the soap dispenser, left, was broken, and at least one paper napkin was on the floor, next to a basket.

You'll find some of Bergen County's narrowest mall parking spaces in the lot of the upscale Hackensack shopping center, even though many shoppers drive big luxury sedans and even bigger SUVs. The Oceanaire Seafood Room, above, replaced MCormick & Schmick's. Both chain restaurants are owned by Landry's Inc.

See: 6th Annual (201) Restaurant Week

The Oceanaire Seafood Room, 175 Riverside Square (The Shops at Riverside), Hackensack Avenue and Route 4, Hackensack; 1-201-343-8862. 

Open 7 days, but doesn't serve lunch on Mondays.


  1. I'm surprised you would partake in/participate in/support anything related to NJMG. Why give them the free press?

    1. We'll, it's all about the food, which in this case wasn't a good value. The (201) Resturant Week was disappointing in this case.


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