THE SATISFACTION OF SENSES

BY DOUGLAS KING | PHOTOGRAPHY BY HOLGER OBENAUS

When your meal begins with a signature cocktail called Berries & Bubbles and you discover, after partaking of the pink, bubbling concoction, that you have sipped the nectar of the god’s, you mentally prepare yourself for a meal that will also be heavenly appointed. While chef Sonny Pache, a 13-year veteran with Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, the restaurant group behind Ocean Prime, may not have reached divine status, his work in the kitchen certainly could be considered for canonization or, at the very least, beautification, if the definition of such is: the superb plating, presentation and preparation of a meal that lingers on the taste buds like the memory of a first love.

One might consider waxing poetic about a meal at a restaurant that is essentially part of a chain “poor foodie form,” but such consideration would be foolish in light of the fact that each Ocean Prime location has a fair percentage of original offerings, unique to that location and specifically prepared with local ingredients. This, paired with the fact that Pache creates many offmenu, chef-composed dishes for lunch and dinner, and you have yourself a four-star dining experience.

Salads and sushi are the most common menu items for the lunch service. One of the signature sushi offerings is the Prime Roll. The seven pieces presented on the plate almost look too good to eat, but that would be the most foolish decision ever made in the history of decisions. Considered an inside-out roll, the dish is composed with a shrimp tempura center, surrounded by cream cheese and rice, and wrapped in a beef carpaccio. A dish could not more perfectly represent a restaurant than this.

Every dish offered at Ocean Prime is balanced, with the flavors united to create an experience that is as fulfilling as it is filling for both body and soul. Pache handles acidity, sweetness and heat with a deft hand, creating a memorable meal from start to finish.

A prime (no pun intended) example is the blackened Texas red fish, served with corn spoon bread and jalapeño corn tartar sauce. One receives the entire flavor of the jalapeño with only a subtle hint of the heat. This is achieved by first roasting, then skinning and removing the seeds from the pepper. Next, the sauce is enhanced with the sweetness of honey, the end result is so well balanced, it is like a symmetrical, architectural entrée masterpiece. The corn spoon bread that hides under the blackened red fish filet provides its own sweetness and texture, with whole kernels of corn amongst the breading, which is a cross between a corn bread and a bread pudding. Simply put, the dish is delicious.

A local chef-composed feature is the chopped Wagyu sandwich. Words nearly fail to describe how incredible this dish is. The pulled rib meat is tender and hails from Rosewood Ranch of Ennis, Texas. The sauce is made with TX Whiskey and pickled sweet onions and offers just the right blend of taste and texture. The sandwich is a perfect pairing of smoky and sweet, and the twice-fried fries are golden brown, crisp strands of bliss.

It is difficult to leave room for dessert, but you will rue the day if you don’t. From an awardwinning carrot cake, made “prime” by adding 10 layers with cream cheese icing and pineapple syrup, to an equally classic crème brûlée. But, to some, the true works of art will be the chocolate peanut butter pie—a peanut butter mousse covered in a bittersweet chocolate ganache—or the warm butter cake, which is soaked in buttermilk and served with vanilla ice cream and fresh berries. Neither is too rich or heavy, and both are so absolutely delicious, you may not want to share. Chocolate lovers will not be disappointed with the multilayered chocolate cake, composed of light and dark chocolate mousse sandwiched between layers of Frangelico-soaked cake—yet another plate that borders on the heavenly.

Our dining journey ended where it began with the last sip of the Berries & Bubbles cocktail, one of the most photographed cocktails in Dallas. It is once the cocktail is finished that one realizes there is a reward at the bottom of the glass: three marinated blackberries just waiting to have their soaked fruit goodness devoured as the final epitaph to a mystical meal.