If you haven't yet, catch a wave over to Ocean M.
It’s not just another seafood restaurant, its offerings are highlighted with a foreign, often French, flare. This addition to the McLean scene — hence the M in the name — provides smooth sailing from start to finish. The three principals of Ocean M hail from the late La Colline restaurant once located in D.C. Owner Paul Zucconi and chefs Roger Wiles and Jose Galeas joined to open Ocean M in the good ole state of Virginia. On my visit, both Roger Wiles and Jose Galeas made their way around the tables, stopping by to say hello and comment on the food. What a pleasure to be welcomed by the chefs in such a casual, comforting way.
A piano sits near the entrance, and overhead, the sound of jazz flowed smoothly around the room. Although no one played for us that night, there is live music on Wednesdays in the form of a Jazz duo, and Thursdays showcase a female songbird who also plays the piano. Fridays and Saturdays feature a male pianist tickling the ivories.
The blue walls and white trim give the place a cool feeling, in both the temperature sense and the slang. Ocean M embraces a nautical theme that is not overdone. Partitions separate the long bar area from the dining room. They are glass and etched with depictions of world maps. Upon admiring the artwork, I discovered that each piece is a product of the McLean Art Society. They have prices attached, so if you see something you fancy, you can leave with a full stomach and a lovely still life.
Our meal began with the Risotto with Wild Mushrooms ($8.50). It was creamy and rich. The rice was tender, but maintained a nice bite, with wild mushrooms plentiful throughout. The dish arrived crowned with a melted layer of cheese. A spoonful that captured a bit of everything is worth the trip. Plus, it was nice that the risotto was offered as an appetizer, as often an entrée portion proves a little too rich for a full meal. This was just the right amount to keep diners wanting more.
Wild Mushrooms in a Pastry Shell, with a Cabernet Sauvignon Sauce ($8.50) arrived on a white plate that set off the striking ruby sauce. It was a little jewel box of flakey pastry and overflowed with savory mushrooms basking in the rich cabernet semi-sweet sauce.
One of the most popular dishes at Ocean M is the Bouillabaisse “Capitol” Rouille & Croutons ($28). It arrived in a large bowl, with a beautiful meat-filled lobster claw anointing the top. The broth was deep orange and filled with a mixture of lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams, monkfish, rockfish and snapper. A slight hint of anise and fennel made it irresistible. The accompanying bowl of rouille was buttery and rich with ample garlic — add it to the broth or eat it straight, spread on toast points.
One of the specials of the night, a Mahi Mahi ($21) that was marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil and ginger falls apart with the slightest touch of a fork. It is balanced atop shitake mushrooms and snow peas that retained their crunch. Black sesame seeds adorned the dish.
A sweet finish was found in the form of Profiteroles ($7.50). Arriving in a little boat, each delicate pastry opened to reveal their Dulce de Leche Ice Cream middles. They lay upon a bed of mandarin oranges and were topped with lashing of chocolate and brilliant red shavings of pickled orange rind. The tartness of citrus and the sweetness of the ice cream was a delight.
This is one sea worthy ship, of which I will certainly be making a return voyage.
Ocean M Restaurant
1381 Beverly Road – 2nd level
McLean, VA 22101
Phone: (703) 734-FISH (3474)
Fax: (703) 734-3477
Lunch: Monday – Friday 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Dinner: Monday – Saturday 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Closed on Sunday