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EPICURE: Off the Line

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Fancy Fish
Dripping with 1930s elegance, the Oceanaire Seafood Room is the Rolls Royce of seafood houses, its sweeping staircase, lofty ceiling, Art Deco curves, cherry-wood accents, horseshoe-shaped red leather booths, crisp white linens and cascades of velvet all set against a backdrop of Big Band music and impeccable service. Splendor abounds on all fronts: lavish attention from a refined wait staff, a striking wine list, including a separate “Captain’s List” for true aficionados; and colossal portions of the day’s catch. There’s also an impressive selection of wines by the glass and an old-school cocktail menu.

The culinary concept is “ultra-fresh.” Fish is flown in daily from around the world, and the menu changes to accommodate market availability. Preparations are simple, intended to enhance a fish’s flavor, not mask it. Sauces lean toward the timid side, which purists should find quite satisfying.

The kitchen flexes its artistic muscle with the meaty Alaskan Halibut, served atop fingerling potatoes and bubbling over with effervescent saffron foam. Sides are notable, too. The hash browns (with bacon and onions) and the creamed corn (with a hint of nutmeg) are both superb. And a refreshing salad of mixed greens, blackberries, raspberries and goat cheese, tossed with a not-too-tart vinaigrette, was an ideal follow-up to the Revel Island, Netart Bay, Island Creek, Saddlerock, Bluepoint, Malpeque, Totten and North Umberland oysters.

700 Walnut St., Philadelphia; (215) 625-8862, theoceanaire.com