My companion Zach was fumbling on his iPhone in the middle of dinner. “You’re not going to believe this,” he said. “This place has four stars on Yelp.”
“Yeah, but it’s new,” I countered. “How many reviews are there?”
We both sat dumbfounded for a moment.
“You’re kidding me.”
That was when the waitress came over, surveyed our barely touched plates, and asked whether everything was okay. She was a wonderful server—attentive, sweet and watchful. The room itself is pretty pleasant, too: The drab carpet looks as if it came straight from an office building, but the rest of the spacious restaurant is airy and at least tries to feel contemporary and designed. But aside from the excellent service, things were definitely not okay. Things hadn’t been okay for a while.
It started when the appetizer our waitress recommended (phyllo-wrapped ahi) in place of a dish the restaurant was out of (phyllo-wrapped whitefish) turned out to be mealy, warmish ground tuna stuffed into fried phyllo dough with warm, slimy cream cheese. This was the first time in my life I felt relieved when a plate was cleared from in front of me.
But my relief was premature. The next thing that came out was the signature Blue Ocean roll, which was stuffed with the same grainy tuna, the same smooth cream cheese. My only consolation was that this time, the cheese wasn’t warm.
My generosity, as well, was premature. The chefs’ selection of sushi and nigiri—an unimaginative, nonsustainable collection of tuna, yellowtail, salmon and red snapper—was served way too cold and may as well have come from a grocery-store freezer section considering how tasteless the fish was. The only items worth eating on the $23 sampler were a couple of avocado-shrimp maki.
So I was left to pick at the small-plate of roasted duck. It was cloyingly sweet, but at least it tasted like something. Zach, meanwhile, was deep into the Yelp reviews. The dishes that the Yelpers yelped about were mostly the ones we ordered. It was baffling. The Heat Roll is not “EFFING AMAZING.” The sashimi can not possibly be described as “top notch.” I could talk as loud as I wanted to into that tiny screen. But somehow, I don’t think the Yelpers will hear me.
|Venue name:||Blue Ocean (CLOSED)|
4650 N Clark St
|Cross street:||between Wilson and Leland Aves|
|Opening hours:||(Wed–Sun) Lunch, Dinner|
|Transport:||El stop: Red to Lawrence. Bus: 9, 22, 81.|
|Price:||Average nigiri: $2.50|
|Do you own this business?|