- Great food? Check.
- Tasty cocktails? Check.
- Upscale, yet warm and inviting ambiance? Check.
- Friendly, knowledgable, attentive staff? Check.
Ocean Prime has long been a favorite of mine for happy hour, but it’s also my go-to place for special occasions, because it exceeds all expectations for a great night out.
While I have been several times with girlfriends, celebrating birthdays or catching up over drinks, but until recently I had never visited with my husband, which was a shame because Ocean Prime is an ideal date night hot spot.
Well, that was remedied and here is my full report on our fabulous Ocen Prime date night.
Our dinner reservations were at 6:30 on a Friday evening and the place was packed with lingering happy hour patrons. We were seated in the lounge and it was pretty noisy between the live entertainment and jovial conversations all around us, but once happy hour was over at 7pm, the crowd cleared and the volume went down.
We started the evening with a couple of cocktails. I chose the Berries & Bubbles cocktail which I have had many, many times before, in fact, I list this drink as one of my all time favorites cocktails of all time. It’s pretty and positively delightful, made with Belvedere citrus vodka, Grand Marnier-marinated berries, house-made sour, Domaine Chandon Brut and dry ice. It arrives at your table still in the shaker and the server pours it over bits of dry ice in the chilled martini glass. The presentation is very dramatic and makes for a perfect photo opp, so have your camera ready. But this drink is so much more than a pretty face, it is fantastic. It’s effervescent and bubbly kissed the perfect combination of tart and sweetness. I had a couple and wanted a couple more. My husband opted for his usual Old Fashioned and he too ordered another so it must have been a winner in his book.
We ordered the Point Judith Calamari as an appetizer to enjoy with our cocktails. It was unlike any calamari we had before and that was a very good thing. Ocean Prime uses both calamari rings and tentacles in the dish and it’s all light fried and very tender. It’s tossed in an Asian-inspired sweet chili sauce with julienned carrots, peppers and candied cashews for a textual contrast. We both loved it and agreed it would make an excellent entree if served with rice. Our waitress Carrie let us know that we could do exactly that if wanted on our next visit. Ocean Prime aims to please!
With a name like Ocean Prime it’s pretty obvious you’re in for great surf and turf. So when it came to ordering our entrees we selected representations of both. I opted for surf and went with the Blackened Swordfish. Ocean Prime is the only place I have ever eaten swordfish and they have set the bar very high. The meaty, white fish is served over corn spoon bread and sautéed veggies and topped with a dollop of spicy, tangy jalapeño tarter sauce. The fish is firm and expertly cooked, the blackening spice added the right amount of heat that paired well with the sweet soft corn bread accompaniment. It’s an excellent dish with all kinds of flavors exploding at once.
My husband ordered the 8 oz. filet and I must tell you, it was a thing of beauty cooked to a perfect medium, simple with seasoning to let the true taste shine through. He shared a bite and it was so tender a knife was barely needed. You can dress up your steaks with a little bit of decadence by ordering an “Accessory” to accompany it, “accessories” include bernaise sauce, Maytag bleu cheese crust, shrimp scampi or lobster au gratin; my hubs opted out of the extras to let his filet really shine.
As per the norm at upscale steakhouses steaks are served a la carte, but they have at least a dozen side dish options sure to make your mouth water, ranging from truffle mac & cheese to roasted brussels sprouts. We splurged and ordered a variety of carb options – Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Smoked Gouda Tater Tots and Jalapeño Au Gratin Potatoes. All were absolutely delicious but the latter two were my absolute favorite tastes of the night. Don’t get me wrong the garlic mash were everything great mashed potatoes should be, super smooth and creamy and the hint of garlic added a tasty something extra but those tots and au gratin had me drooling.
The Smoked Gouda Tater Tots are newish to the menu and would also fair well as an appetizer. They are made in house and are quite large by tot standards. The smoky Gouda taste is at the forefront, encased by a crispy exterior and fluffy potatoes inside. The side of garlic aioli made the perfect dipping sauce. Ocean Prime has really elevated this childhood favorite!
I love au gratin potatoes, cheesy tubers get me every time and Ocean Prime takes this familiar side dish up a few notches with the addition of jalapeño. The heat is relatively mild but the slow burn mixed with the creamy and cheesy potatoes makes for one amazing au gratin.
After all that we still found room in our bellies to end on a sweet note and indulged in the Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie and Ocean Prime’s signature Ten Layer Carrot Cake. The peanut butter pie was super rich and decadent, light fluffy peanut butter mousse on a chocolate cookie crust encased in a luscious ganache, it was like an adult version of a Reese’s peanut butter cup. The carrot cake was a towering marvel, a spectacle of sweet bliss. The cake was moist and spiced perfectly with small pieces of nuts for texture and flavor, the carrot flavor was prominent and sweet. The fluffy cream cheese frosting layered 10 times between was excellent. It was all balanced nicely with the addition of a tangy pineapple syrup. This cake was epic.
Thursday through Saturday nights Ocean Prime has live music in the lounge. On the night we visited we were delighted by the music of a sultry singer and an excellent pianist crooning contemporary hits that often sounded better than the original. My husband and I were impressed with their talent and range.
If you’re looking for a great date night dinner spot or a hip happy hour hot spot, Ocean Prime is it. The interior space is warm and inviting, the food is unparalleled and the service is some of the friendliest in town. Chef Jagger Griffin is running an impeccable kitchen and the excellence is apparent in all aspects of a dining experience at Ocean Prime.
Ocean Prime is located at High Street in North Phoenix. 5455 East High StreetPhoenix, AZ 85054.
Disclaimer: My husband and I enjoyed our meal free of charge to help facilitate this write-up. No financial compensation was received. All opinions stated stated here are entirely my own.