“ Ocean Avenue Brewery serves it right ” - Coastline Pilot-Jan 28.05
Ocean Avenue Brewery serves it right
When my friend and I arrived at the Ocean Avenue on Saturday night the dining room was crowded and buzzing with conservation. Bold imaged artwork hung from the walls and colorful fabrics were draped from the ceiling, creating an intimate atmosphere in the small space. It was loud inside, so despite the pouring rain we opted for seating on the covered patio. Out of the rain and with the heat lamps blazing, it was just the perfect temperature.
The second we sat down, our server greeted us with a basketful of tasty focaccia accompanied by an olive oil and balsamic dipping sauce. The dinner was already off to a ggod start.
All memories of my previous experiences with brewery food quickly dissolved when I opened the menu. This was not the kind of food you wash down with a gulp of beer; the offerings were anything but standard.
The appertizers spanned a spectrum of tastes, from bruschetta ($5) to blue-crab seasoned Crab Cakes ($6). My friend and I settled on the calamari ($8.50). Served with both spicey sauce and cilantro ailoi, this calamari dish definitely makes my top 10, and I’ve eaten a lot of calamari. It was lightly breaded, perfectly crunchy and not one bit soggy. We both agreed that the cilantro aioli was amazing. I want to inhale the entire plate, but I restrained myself, knowing that the entrees were looking pretty promising.
The selection of soups and salads was plentiful and many sounded delicious, but I was hungry and the heartier numbers on the other side of the menu were calling. I was intrigued to find sandwiches on the dinner menu, although I’m not a sandwich fan, it is a nice break from the heavier dinner entrees if you’re looking for something lighter. The entee list also featured several pizzas, from the gourmet to the basic, a good option for the picky eaters in the group.
As a self-proclaimed pasta fanatic, my heart leapt at every pasta dish on the menu. From penne with tiger shrimp, scallops and broccoli in a chardonnay sauce to a classic capellini with basil, garlic and marinara, they all looked good. all the entrees were moderately priced and came with the choice of two sides.
Ultimately, I met my match on the list of nightly specials. Chicken Marsalas with garlic mashed potatoes was a sure bet. My friend also ordered from the specials menu, selecting a penne pasta with goat cheese, tomato and eggplant.
As we waited for our food, I noticed the restaurant clearing out and the staff stacking up tables. Eating late as it was, we were quickly reminded that Ocean Avenue transforms into quite the hotspot after hours. The tables were being cleared around us and it was slightly disruptive, but the entrees arrived quickly and the food captured my attention.
The first bite of tender chicken drenched in creamy Marsala sauce was a little piece of heaven and I was hooked. The vegetables and heaping pile of garlic mashed potatoes complimented the chicken. The food was rich, but I still managed to make quite a dent. My friend’s pasta was equally as tasty. The goat cheese in the tomato and eggplant sauce boosted the flavor intensity of the otherwise traditional dish.
Though I tried to keep eating, neither one of us could even come close to finishing the large portions on our plates. Thankfully. the servers packed each of us a take home container.
By this time, the restaurant was a full-on nightclub and we were the last remaining table. The DJ was spinning so we decided to stay and enjoy the party. As everyone flocked to the dance floor that had everyone flocked to the dance floor that had now replaced the dinning room, I was still thinking about the food. After consuming a deliciously un-regrettable amount of calories, I stowed my leftovers in a corner and made my way for the floor to dance off every bite.