This is the first in a series of general reviews of our favorite dinner spots – places we know we can go for great food, service and ambiance. These aren’t rankings – just the order in which I’m choosing to write them.

I’ve already mentioned Ocean a bit here and here. My wife may be getting tired of the menu but the variety of tapas options give me a chance to mix and match to fit my mood. The list of appetizers spans everything from yellowfin tuna tartare to chorizo & root vegetable soup to lobster mac ‘n cheese.

They had an amaaaazing angus burger and fries on the app. menu for a while but they must have received “complaints” that the platter was just way too voluminous to not be an entrée so they upgraded it. I highly recommend it (rare), but make sure you bring your appetite. An egg yolk slathered burger and hand cut fries don’t hold up well as leftovers. When we do go for an entrée, it’s generally one of the specials. They usually have maybe 2 specials a night if i remember correctly. Portions are good and the plating is excellent.

The dessert choices are all delicious, though the fact that i know that indicates i’ve had them all – so they could probably afford a shakeup. They have a lot of great mixed drink options, a sophisticated wine list, a nice bottled beer selection (i go with the Framboise Lambic in the champagne flute when i want to feel fancy) and a talented head bartender.

Apart from all the consumables, the experience is very enjoyable. The manager is extremely personable and bends over backwards to make sure you have a good time. The staff is very amiable and professional as well. It’s a small restaurant – i’d estimate that the front room seats 2 dozen and the rear section a bit more. There’s a lounge downstairs, though I’m unclear if there’s any food service. In the few years we’ve been going, Ocean’s popularity has steadily grown so reservations are highly recommended at this point. The dining room bar area can get very crowded due to its close proximity to the tables and, with waitstaff having to fight through the crowd, it’s not the most comfortable place to stand if you can’t get a barstool. The vibe is modern and urban. It’s got good energy which is tempered effectively by relatively low lighting.

So that’s my topline review of Ocean. Got reservations for this Saturday and I’m really looking forward to it. My next review will be for a place just a few doors down – Sette Luna.