If you find yourself in Midtown in need of a dressed-up bar bite, Oceana—with not one, but two expansive bar areas (a regular and raw bar)—suits the purpose quite well. Though the full menu is available anywhere in the restaurant, Oceana offers a curated selection of finger foods for its bar menu, a more budget-friendly option for those who want to enjoy the trappings of a Michelin-starred restaurant without the typical price tag.
Start with one of Oceana's Seafood Towers ($28 for 1 to 2 people), a selection of raw bar items with good variety: oysters, clams, mussels, shrimp, periwinkles and a small composed dish such as smoked halibut salad. Surprisingly, tiny periwinkles make for the best bar snacks—coax those little buggers out of the shell and dunk them into the accompanying passionfruit mignonette for a tart and salty sea treat.
For a more filling dish, opt for the Alaskan Wild Coho Salmon Burger ($19). The patty is cooked to a solid medium rare and topped with a bit of pickled red onion, lettuce and horseradish. An extra sprinkle of salt in the side of kettle chips would have pulled together the entire dish.
Lobster Tater Tots ($16) have the potential for being the ultimate bar food—what sounds better than the meaty succulence of lobster locked into a fried tater tot and dipped into lobster aioli? Unfortunately, the aesthetic beauty of this dish's crunchy exterior belied its mushy interior, which tasted more of bland potato than lobster.
The wine by the glass selection, also available in half-glasses or carafes, has plenty of seafood-friendly options, made all the better by knowledgeable and friendly servers who can suggest a perfect pairing. But teetotalers be advised: a glass of iced tea or soda costs $5 each—perhaps expected in this part of town, but eyebrow-raising nonetheless.
120 W. 49th St., New York, NY 10020 (map)
About the author: Nancy Huang, who comes to New York by way of Los Angeles, writes The Wanderist, a food and travel blog of adventures here and abroad. She loves noodles, subway maps, and word games.