Restaurant Review – Oceana Restaurant at Catamaran Hotel in Mission Beach

by on January 10, 2017 · 2 comments

in Culture, Ocean Beach, The Widder Curry

Oceana Restaurant
Catamaran Hotel
3999 Mission Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92109

As so often happens to those of us living in San Diego, we have friends and relatives that come to visit and we go out to eat with them. Usually when that happens to me I make a suggestion as to where we might like to go, depending on their preference for food. But this time my friend Nel was staying at the Catamaran Hotel with her children and while they were at the beach, we were going to have lunch together.

Scallop Salad, on a bed of rice noodles

As I drove from Ocean Beach to Pacific Beach I could not believe the traffic on the road, particularly at the Sea World entrance. I drove down to the beach, circumventing, I thought, the traffic, only to find it was horrendous all along the beach front streets.  I had thought we would eat at one of my favorite places – The Mission – but the line was so long as I drove by that I knew that Nel and I would not eat there.

She suggested the Oceana, because it is the restaurant in the hotel.  It wasn’t until I began writing this review that I found it was listed as an “upscale eatery.”  It talked about the beautiful view – it is – and the seafood is their specialty.

We were seated inside the restaurant – there was outside seating also but it was a cold afternoon – and in the center of the restaurant is a beautiful pseudo aquarium that has jelly fish swimming around in it. It is lighted, and I would imagine at night it is spectacular.

The menu was served to us on heavy boards, with the drink menu on one side and the food menu on the other.  It was interesting in that printed on the back of each menu was the other side of the menu. The heavy board was not needed and the menu kept slipping out of the rubber band holding it in place.

The menu had six “starters” – soups and small salads; ($9-15); Five Flatbreads – $11-13); six salad bowls – $13-18); ten “plates” $13-18.50); eight “sweets” – all $9, and drinks, brews, and wines.

In addition to the menu, there is a smaller menu featuring a sushi bar.  There is a “cold bar” featuring ceviche, spring rolls, crab lets ($24), shrimp cocktails, etc.

“Drugstore Hamburger”

Two of the items that I found interesting were the “Oceana Seafood Tower”, which consists of shrimp cocktail, crab claws, king crab, oysters on the half shell, ceviche, mussels and clams plus dipping sauces.  This serves 2-6 people and you can get it in 2 tiers for $75 or three tiers for $95.  The other item I found of interest was an “Omakase Platter” which was the chef’s choice of five rolls – a total of 40 pieces, to serve 4 or more, for $60.  There are also 8 sushi rolls available.

Our waitress, Bojana, was from Serbia, and was delightful.  We talked about the situation of the old Czechoslovakia and how different parts of the country speak with a different dialect.

It should be noted that on all the menus there was indications of whether the item was “v” – vegetarian, “vn” – vegan or “g” – gluten- free.

Nel elected to have the “Drugstore Hamburger” ($16).  It was a house-ground Harris Beef patty, tomato, red onion, lettuce, dill pickle, mayo and fries.

I ordered the Scallop Salad, on a bed of rice noodles ($18).

Shortly after we ordered, a waiter came by with a basket of bread and asked us which one we would like. There was sour dough, an orange biscuit, and chipotle and he put our choice on the bread plate on the side. He apologized that he forgot the butter, and returned shortly with a small dish of nice soft butter.  The bread was not heated, but fresh.

The waitress then came by and placed two small jars on the table. We asked what it was and was told it was ketchup for Nel’s fries.  (Doesn’t seem too practical – and must cost quite a bit if they give them two out to all their patrons.  It is doubtful that one would ever be finished. – See picture.)

Nel’s hamburger was very large, and there was even a larger portion of French fries.  She was happy with her order and could not finish it.

My scallop salad was interesting, because scallops – maybe two – had been sliced into three slices and they were placed on the top of the rice noodles.  They were very good and tender, but the noodles were so oily that I did not eat them.  Nothing is as bad – well, almost nothing is as bad – as having a mouth full of oil!

I would have liked to have another piece of bread with the salad, but I never saw the waiter again, and Bojana never asked if everything was ok.  (Nel felt that the service was very slow.)

Our waitress packaged up our remaining food for us, and we both had left-overs to take home.  (Although I did not eat mine).

Nel thought it would be fun to order dessert, so she ordered the “made to order” brownie and ice cream.  I ordered the Bailey’s Irish Crème Panna Cotta, with a chocolate ganache with shortbread.  Both desserts were $9.

Panna Cotta

There is no question that the brownie was made to order. We waited 25 minutes for it. It was served in an iron skillet that was very hot to the touch.  The vanilla ice cream in the center melted quickly. It was very tasty, albeit very sweet.

My Panna Cotta was nondescript.  It was pretty, but had little flavor. If it had any Bailey’s it must have evaporated with the preparation. It was very large, and I did not finish it.

Nel ordered a bottle of water that cost $4.  I had ice tea that was $3.25.

The total amount for our lunch came to $63.67 and with the tip it was about $75.  Pretty stiff for a lunch that did not have any alcohol and even though the view is nice, for a resident of the city it did nothing for me.  Would I go back?  Probably not.  There are too many other places that offer a view that less expensive with better food.



{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Susie January 10, 2017 at 9:35 pm

At the end of May I went there with a friend, male, for his BD.
sounds like things have not improved since I was there.
But, I did call back and precisely described the experience and the manager invited me to return to have me give them another try.
So I thought, fine. So the next month I returned with another friend.
I met with the manager so she could meet me before I ordered.
Anyway, we got seated w the same waiter as the previous month.
Things had improved quite a bit since the previous lunch only 1 month before.
This time, bread was brought out. Ice tea glasses were kept filled. Waiter was very attentive.( unlike before) the food still was the same though. While edible, certainly bland and over priced and it makes me wonder who is in charge of testing the entrees.
And, unfortunately, the manager came over to the table just to tell me again the meals were gratis and said it in front of my friend. Which for many reasons, I did not want my friend to know.( Male)mostly because he would have wanted to pay. As it was, there was a major discussion on the way home. I felt mortified. I feel she said it on purpose. As it was, yes meal was free, but a very adequate tip was left for waiter as this time he earned it.
Place is gorgeous but over priced. I miss the previous restaurant at the Catamaran.
This place now feels like a glorified Cocos, back in the say when Cocos was decent. 30 yrs ago. I was told a very fine, influential family owns it. I don’t know but, I think they are trying to dress to impress and something is lost in the overall details. I don’t mind paying money if its worth it. But, they should try to scale back and focus on making less items so what’s left will be awesome.


judi January 11, 2017 at 12:42 pm

Thank you for your comments, Susie. I am glad that the service improved. Our waitress was delightful in conversation, but left something to be desired in service.

My friends stayed at the hotel for another 2 days and ate a breakfast and dinner while there – in addition to our lunch. Unfortunately they said that nothing had changed at those meals and that they could have had the same meal at the “Broken Yolk” for much less money and better tasting.

The view is a killer; I might go there just for drinks sometime, but never again for food. (Besides, if they are known for good seafood – a scallop scallop with two scallops sliced into 3 pieces does not show me much!)

And there was no excuse for the Manager even mentioning the gratis. I think you were probably right. Not too professional.


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