Arriving at the Ocean Club restaurant in the Kierland Commons, located in Scottsdale, is a little like arriving at an opening night gala. The name of the restaurant is outlined in glowing blue light, no doubt in reverence to the color of the ocean. A statue of four dolphins adorns the exterior entrance of the restaurant.
Valet parking is a must during busy nights. We arrived for dinner at 7PM on a Wednesday night. Greeted by two hosts, we found the foyer, with its dark wood paneling and artwork, as impressive as the restaurant itself. Having made reservations ahead of time, we were led immediately to a table in the lower bar area, called the O bar.
The room was bathed in a glow of dim lights and warm earth tones. The O bar is large and can seat 100-150 people easily. A second, smaller, bar is located near the restaurant dining area. Live music is offered nightly, with a small stage and piano located to the left of the bar. Behind the stage sits an impressive wall of wines.
We were seated at a table that is a part of a large half circle black leather wraparound couch. It faced out, towards the classy wooden high top tables, and the bar against the back wall. Eric, our waiter, introduced himself and took our drink orders. We started by ordering the Sole Sparkling Water, considered a premium Italian bottled mineral water. It had a clean, refreshing taste with a gentle effervescence. My guest chose a non-alcoholic beer by the name of Buckler, manufactured by Heineken. The caramel color and hoppy aroma allowed my guest to enjoy it, as if it was a true beer. During the meal, he even ordered a second round of it. The Ocean Club’s wine list is extensive. In addition, the restaurant offers a reserve list of exceptional wines for the discerning wine lover. Reserve wines are typically made in smaller quantities, aged longer both in the barrel and in the bottle, thus deserving of a higher price for a better quality product. I finally decided on a glass of the 2005 Kenwood Merlot. The wine did not disappoint, for it had a full body, fruity taste and a soft tannin finish.
As we enjoyed our drinks and the ambience of the bar, a bread basket was delivered. It contained three different types of bread, including crispy Parmesan flavored flat bread, dinner rolls, and pretzel-like breadsticks. My guest and I took an immediate liking to the pretzel bread. The warm, golden brown bread was comforting, tasting very much like a hot pretzel you might get on the streets of New York. The thin wafer-like flatbread was equally good, due to its intense parmesan flavor.
The appetizer menu offers a variety of seafood delights; however, my guest and I decided to go with tradition, and ordered salads before our meal. While not noted on the menu, Eric pointed out the salads are offered in two sizes: half and whole. My guest chose a half-size Caesar Salad, while I opted for the half-size Mambo Salad. When our salads arrived we were both pleased that we went with the smaller size, as it was just the right portion for one person. After taking one bite of my salad, I was content with my choice: the spicy Mambo Salad was robust, containing deep green Romaine lettuce and a dressing featuring a medley of ingredients including horseradish, wasabi, and bleu cheese crumbles. The Caesar Salad was no slouch, containing fresh Romaine lettuce, aromatic parmesan flakes, toasted croutons, and a lightly flavored anchovy dressing.
For the main course, my guest chose the 12 ounce filet, done medium well. With so many seafood options it was a difficult choice for me; however, I settled on the Sautéed Sea Scallops. The filet was made to order, of good quality, and served on a piping hot plate. As it continued to sizzle, we eyed the steak appreciatively. Centered on the white platter, the dark golden brown filet glistened. My guest commented on how tender it was. The aromatic sautéed scallop entrée came with several scallops bathed in a light pink, tomato and basil-flavored sauce. The scallops were firm, but not chewy. More toasted parmesan flatbread rested artfully on the plate, partially bathed in the sauce as well.
To complement our main course, we ordered two sides: one side of Steamed Asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, and one side of the Wasabi Mashed Potatoes. Both were placed on the table and wait staff served the sides on to our plates. The rich and creamy hollandaise sauce, with a hint of lemon, accented the tender green asparagus spears well. The pungent wasabi was an added delight to the creamy texture and subtle flavor of the mashed potatoes.
For dessert, my guest chose to have an espresso, while I couldn’t resist Eric’s description of the Maestro’s Signature Warm Butter Cake. The dessert was a masterpiece. Large enough to feed four diners, it was a golden brown round cake with a cream cheese center, vanilla bean ice cream on the side, and slices of fresh strawberries and pineapple. Burnt brown sugar drizzled off of the top of the cake and down the sides. When setting it down on our table, the server also place two glass dishes of homemade whipped cream to add to our slices. Words cannot describe this dessert. One must try it!
Throughout our meal, service was above and beyond what you see at most restaurants. Our waiter, Eric, constantly checked back to see how our meals were and to see if we needed anything else. Other staff members provided water and cleared the table in a timely manner. The manager also stopped by to see how we enjoyed our meal. This was done at every table I could see. Even though constant attention was shown, it was never obtrusive. In addition, a few days later I received a follow up call thanking us for dining at the restaurant.
Maestro’s Ocean Club provides a standard of service and a dining experience that is largely unmatched in today’s restaurant scene. Whether your desire is to dine on a sumptuous meal or imbibe on the select wines offered, you won’t be disappointed.