Oceanaire Seafood Room

A plush, banquette-lined dining room and raw bar.

From January 2006 100 Very Best Restaurants

THE SCENE. The Penn Quarter outlet of this national chain, done up like a '30s-style cruise ship, is as lively and jumping as its boogie-woogie soundtrack. The oyster bar stays packed after happy hour, and although there are plenty of tables for 12 crammed with lawyers cutting loose, the smaller leather banquettes–and the sidecars and sea breezes–make intimacy easy.

WHAT YOU'LL LOVE. Any given day you might find Icelandic char, a thick cut of Shetland salmon, and at least a dozen kinds of oysters. And chef-in-charge Rob Clink does the fresh catches proud with his French- and Asian-inspired daily specials. Portions are titanic–tall towers of shellfish, "colossal" crab cocktails, mountains of flaming baked Alaska–but the friendly servers are happy to pack leftovers to go.

WHAT YOU WON'T. It verges on overpriced–surf-and-turf is $79.95–and there's a corporate feel that won't appeal to some.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.