Cafe Reviewed: Wednesday, May 15, 2003
Ocean Rock
Cluster shuck combo $9.69
Grilled mahi mahi fish $12.95
Piña colada shrimp $13.95
Margarita $4.75
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Shuck Off

An uneven seafood experience awaits you at Ocean Rock.

By NANCY SCHAADT

Ocean Rock

3468 Bluebonnet Circle, Fort Worth. 817-922-8080. Mon-Thu 11am-10pm. Fri-Sat 11am-11pm. Sun 11am-9pm. Credit Cards: AE, D, MC, V.

aybe I have a dirty mind, but when I looked at the Ocean Rock menu, I thought the appetizer my eyes first lighted on was called something besides “Cluster Shuck.” Thus began my rocky Ocean Rock dining experience.

The menu reads like Razzoo’s with cloying, kinda-clever item names and descriptions. A simple chicken breast sandwich becomes “Chicken Eatza B.L.T. Sand,” not to be confused with the “yellow fin tuna sammy,” which uses the second grammatically inappropriate abbreviation for “sandwich.”

Although the restaurant has been open only since early March, there was nary a shake-down prob. The wait staff knew the menu, and the service was professional, if a tad rushed.

My guest and I started with the cluster shuck, four oysters on the half shell, four spicy shrimp, a small cup of ceviche, and a small cup of Mexican shrimp cocktail. Raw oysters can be beautiful things, when they’re plump and cold with the taste of fresh ocean still evident in the liquor (or nectar) at the bottom of the shell. Bad oysters are gritty and slimy, and the liquor resembles spoiled milk. Ocean Rock served the latter. One oyster actually smelled funny and had a reddish tint. We didn’t eat it.

To be fair, we later spied a man digging into a dozen oysters that looked just fine. None of the other items in the shuck had quite the drama of the oysters, although the spicy shrimp needed salt and the ceviche lacked tartness. We liked the Mexican shrimp cocktail because it tasted like puréed gazpacho decorated with small, sweet shrimp.

Our entrées were equally uneven. The mahi mahi that was allegedly marinated in chipotle sauce and grilled was just as lifeless as a day-old albacore steak. (Albacore is the tuna that comes in a can. Even at its best, it’s no match for firm, robust mahi mahi.) The chipotle sauce that covered the fish was like a barbecue jelly, a nearly transparent reddish sauce.

The piña colada shrimp made up for the middling mahi mahi. Each butterflied shrimp tasted as though it was dredged in coconut and pineapple, then wrapped in coconut flakes and breading and perfectly deep-fried. It came with a raspberry sauce that was totally irrelevant — it did nothing to enhance the flavor of the shrimp.

Side dishes continued the hit-or-miss parade. The roasted corn that came with the mahi mahi was mushy, tasteless, and ultimately inedible. On the other hand, the rice that accompanied the shrimp was fantastic. It was flavored with cinnamon and fruit extracts and studded with pineapple chunks.

We also tried an order of rockfish tacos. The fish tacos were completely grilled and came in red, white, and blue hard taco shells. Small fillets of the white fish were nestled in individual beds of lettuce and tomato. For the second time, I reached for a salt shaker. The tacos came with passable black beans and fresh cole slaw.

The restaurant is decorated in mosaics that use the bright colors of vintage Fiesta ware — cobalt blue, canary yellow, orange, and red. Unfortunately, the décor is more zesty than the food. With the exception of the piña colada shrimp, everything we tried suffered from bland-itis. The kitchen has got to get friendly with the spice rack or at least put Zatarain’s (and lemons, limes, and Tabasco sauce) on the table.


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