Fish and a foul happy hour at Oceanaire
Happy Place: Oceanaire Seafood Room, 1400 Arapahoe Street, 303-991-2277.
The Hours: Sunday through Friday from 5 to 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. to close.
The Deals: $3 draft beer; $4 wines by the glass; $5 specialty cocktails; $6 martinis; $5-$8 small plates.
Were we happy? Flip the page to find out.
The Digs: The Oceanaire Seafood Room is probably meant to make you feel as though you're somewhere coastal, New England perhaps. The high-vaulted ceilings and dapper, simplistic décor reeks of Bostonian eateries where patrons sip beer and eat freshly shucked oysters while perched on dark wooden bar stools accented with burgundy leather. The bar is nestled between two formal dining rooms, laden in dark hues and white tablecloths, but the grandeur ends at the crest of the bar, where the sophisticated scenery is bluntly interrupted by an obnoxious display of seashells, domestic beer, and wine bottles packed in ice like a trailer trash version of the Seattle Fish Market. t's an eyesore and it distracts from every other aspect of the Oceanaire experience.
The Verdict: It wasn't hard to find my friends, since they were the only people in Oceanaire besides the employees. They looked at me skeptically over their martinis as I slid into my bar stool. "Don't worry," I assured them. "This place gets great reviews."
A perky, baby-faced bartender peered at us over an icy block featuring starfish and two bottles of Amstel. I ordered the James Bond martini -- gin, vodka, and Lillet -- and then selected items from the happy hour menu, which reads like a seafood appetizer Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, it's all a rouse. The crab cake bites, essentially sliders, were dry and flavorless; the masa-fried oysters underseasoned; the oysters Rockefeller incredibly salty. In fact, the calamari was the only plate that wasn't a total disappointment, but it's pretty difficult to screw up calamari. We rolled our eyes in frustration at the dishes surrounding us, all of which we had high hopes for, and all of which let us down. Not even the accommodating staff could convince us to stay for another round.
Overall Grade: C-