Crowded Waters

Is Oceano Bistro just another fish in the sea?

Occasionally, the kitchen seemed to forget it was serving seafood. Salmon with a fennel-apple salad in a cider and grain-mustard jus lost any elegance it might have had thanks to the strongly flavored potato-bacon-arugula gratin accompanying it, a side more befitting an entrée of roasted pork. And tuna was served as though it were steak — two massive hunks of seared fish sat at the center of my plate in a pool of smoked tomato-basil butter. The butter lacked enough flavor to stand up to that much tuna, and the dish as a whole — save for squat, tasty gnocchi afloat in the butter — was overwhelmingly salty.

Salt bedevils one of this evening's entrées, too: an otherwise bland linguini with clams and pancetta. The steamed shellfish sofritto with mussels, scallops, shrimp and clams in a rich, lemony broth fares better, though its pleasures are of the same basic kind as the crab cake. Truly strange is a crab "risotto": a soupy dish baring only a passing resemblance to an actual risotto. It's edible thanks to a generous serving of good crab meat. Again, though, you take good crab for granted at a place like this.

I have a pork chop brined in apple cider, one of three non-seafood entrées. Oddly, it's served standing sideways (that is, resting on its long, thin side rather than its broader bottom) in a roasted garlic-potato purée. Does the presentation improve its flavor? No — but it does distract me from realizing the pork chop is no better or worse than those I've had at any number of similar restaurants. By a conservative estimate, there are more than a million plant and animal species in the world's oceans. With the opening of Oceano, I think St. Louis might have nearly as many bistros.

Oceano Bistro seeks to stand out from all the other fish in St. Louis' sea.
Robert Boston
Oceano Bistro seeks to stand out from all the other fish in St. Louis' sea.

Location Info

Map

Oceano Bistro

44 N. Brentwood Blvd.
Clayton, MO 63105

Category: Restaurant > Contemporary

Region: Clayton

Details

Hours: Lunch 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon.-Fri. Dinner 4-10 p.m. Mon.-Thu., 4-11 p.m. Fri., 2 -11 p.m. Sat., 2-9 p.m. Sun. Brunch: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat.-Sun.

Hamachi-avocado ceviche...$9 Blackened Ahi tuna...$11 Scallops...$16 Sole...$19

44 North Brentwood Boulevard, Clayton; 314-721-9400.

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