Oh, the Oceanaire

1201795960As a denizen of what many folks consider one of the better food cities in America—no thanks to Anthony Bourdain, mind you—I like to think Bostonians have pretty diverse palates. From Persian to Polish, the world’s top cuisines are all represented here. But when outsiders think of Boston, they inevitably think of seafood.

And the city meets those expectations with an ample, if sometimes repetitive, supply (see also: Sushi, Brasseries, Steakhouses). From refined (Turner Fisheries, Atlantic Fish, B&G) to rowdy (Summer Shack, East Coast Grill, Barking Crab), there’s always fresh fish to be had.

Perhaps that puts us at risk of having too much of a good thing. And yet, the grand opening of the Oceanaire Seafood Room‘s new Boston location last Wednesday night had a gravitational pull too powerful to resist. As I emerged the depths from the Government Center T station, I was mesmerized by the blue-lit awning on Court Street, lured from the streets by the siren call of seafood.

Inside the expansive, marble-bedecked restaurant, formerly a bank, the crowd was not unlike a pack of piranhas. Maybe the guest list was a bit too long, or maybe Bostonians are simply unable to practice moderation where Old Bay-seasoned crab claws, clams casino, and 10 varieties of fresh-shucked oysters are concerned.

Elbows were thrown, insults were muttered. I emerged from the buffet triumphantly clutching a plate of some of the freshest seafood I’ve tried in a while. Which it should be—the company claims to have its vittles flown in at least daily, and you can even see what’s fresh by logging onto the restaurant’s web site. And there’s no slouch working the kitchen, either: chef Dan Enos earned his stripes at another better-than-average chain, The Capital Grille.

Stuffed to the brim, I skittered toward the door, nearly sideswiping a homeless fellow trying to skirt security as he made his way toward the buffet. Seems I wasn’t the only one hearing seafood’s call that night.