Friday date night in Houston and plenty of choices for a light dinner after an opening at Darke Gallery, so Sally and I cruised several restaurants we had been considering trying. We thought we had remembered reading something about a scallop ceviche at Ocean’s in Culture Map, but our memory was fuzzy on that. At any rate, we stopped at Ocean’s… a place for Ceviche Wine and Margaritas on West Alabama near Montrose. I have to mention the fact that we were turned off by the sign in the parking lot that valet parking was $5.00 and seemed to be mandatory. A restaurant in Houston doesn’t usually have to inform its customers how much to give a valet attendant.
We parked in a spot that God evidently had provided for us on the curb at the front door (now that I think of it, there was a spot at the front door for us at the gallery, also). Five star day. We were greeted at the door by the young attractive owner, Jorge Alvarez from Mexico City, and cheerfully seated by a hostess in a dining room that shouldn’t have had as many choices for us as it did. We chose a nice cozy table where we could have a quiet dinner. Due to the name of the restaurant, we assumed that a margarita would be in order and Sally enjoyed the Ocean’s house margarita.
Ocean’s Margarita de la Casa
I might have expected to see several different Magaritas in a place named partially after the drink, but according to Sally, the drink was delightfully tart, freshly squeezed and surprisingly akin to those that we get in Mexico (or, even Santa Fe), rather than the overly sweet versions usually served here in Houston.
The vision of the anticipated scallop ceviche faded as we discussed the menu with our waitress and saw that there wasn’t such a thing on it. No problem, however, as there were some tasty-sounding choices to enjoy.
As a starter, we were attracted to Sally’s favorite citizen of the deep in the form of a Lobster Sope… a perfectly grilled lobster with black beans, sour cream, olives, mesclun, shaved parmesan with olive oil (underpriced at $16.00). Nice starter. We should have ordered two, though, as it has around 3-4 ounces of lobster tail and, as an appetizer, is too small for an entrée but you don’t want to stop with just one.
We learned that the ceviche descriptions don’t mention specific fish on them as they are all served with your choice of Yellow Fin Tuna or Salmon.
Our first entrée was the Rasurado Ceviche with serrano chiles, shaved white onion, avocado, chipotle sauce, two house sauces, cilantro and extra virgin olive oil (for $14.00). We chose salmon and it was a very fresh sashimi-grade cut that went beautifully with the other ingredients. As the others are, it was served on a rectangular plate about 14 inches long. On all ceviches, the presentation is creative, crisp and beautiful. They were also, incidentally, tasty (if not huge).
Next we ordered the Sinaloa Ceviche with red onion, olives, chiltepín chiles, white vinegar, a house sauce, avocado and extra virgin olive oil ($14.00). We were a little surprised by the fact that there wasn’t a Dorado (Mahi Mahi) choice for this one similar to the ceviches that we get on our trips to Mazatlan in the Mexican state of Sinaloa. However, again, it worked with the Ahi Tuna. It looked a little Veracruzana in makeup, considering the olives, but was a delicious ceviche regardless of the name.
We asked for something “off the menu” and were treated by what Jorge called an Ocean’s Tower with diced peppered salmon and an avocado and mango salad on a bed of rice with spicy mayonnaise. It also came with a jalapeno and a chipotle puree for sauces. We shared this and both really enjoyed it. The pureed jalapeno sauce added a really nice edge to the peppered salmon (This one would have been equally wonderful with a tuna substitution for the salmon).
Also on the menu are various Tacos and Tostadas with ingredients ranging from Filet Mignon to Diver Scallops to Shrimp, so those seeking a heavier fare (and scallops) will not be disappointed.
Prices range up to $28.00 for the Seafood Rissotto.
819 West Alabama, Houston, TX 77006