Fresh Catch: Reel in a Great Meal at the Ocean Grille
Author: Teresa Fitzgibbons
Does fresh fish prepared to order in savory sauces, a large, live Maine lobster, or a prime steak grilled to perfection tempt your palate? If so, dinner at the Ocean Grille may be in order.
The Ocean Grille became the newest addition to the Lowrey Group’s family of island restaurants two years ago when they took over the former Harbourmaster’s. The Ocean Grille offers the same spectacular view as its predecessor but with a new American-style menu, featuring an abundance of fresh seafood and prime steaks. Within the last year, the Lowrey Group has brought a new manager, new executive chef, new sous chef and junior sous chef onboard, making the Ocean Grille’s transformation complete.
“I think we have a really strong team now,” said Christopher Tassone, Executive Vice-President and C.O.O. of the Lowery Group.
That team is led by Executive Chef Jon Cowan, a graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute, who brings over ten years of experience to the table. Under his direction, the restaurant has created menus that follow the seasons, guaranteeing that guests partake in the freshest fish, vegetables, and ingredients available.
“I really enjoy the creative aspect of being a chef,” said Cowan. “I’ll never stop striving for success. I need to be proud of what I put out.”
Every dish that leaves the kitchen does so under his watchful eye; Cowan stresses that he’s hands-on with every meal prepared, and nothing leaves until he has inspected its presentation. “After all,” he said. “I’d want it to come to my table as near perfect as it could get. I wouldn’t want anything less for the guests.”
His quest for perfection begins with ordering nothing but the best quality seafood and meats available, including U.S.D.A. certified meats. He has no qualms about not accepting anything that doesn’t meet his expectations. He’d like to see a reputation for consistency become the hallmark of the Ocean Grille. With this in mind, he and his staff have been working on a specifications book, establishing an exact line of procedures for food preparation and presentation.
His staff includes sous chef Don Hiers. Hiers comes to the Ocean Grille with twenty years of professional experience. He was attracted to the Ocean Grille because of its emphasis on fresh seafood. “It’s what I do best,” he said – a claim he can back up. In 1994, he won Georgia’s Inland Seafood Challenge and in 1998 the Taste of the Tidelands. Junior sous chef Charles Wells is a recent graduate of the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute.
“The variety of seafood we have on the menu really distinguishes us from other restaurants,” said Cowan. “Few other places offer as many different kinds of seafood.”
A wealth of options in both type and preparation of seafood await guests at the Ocean Grille. Fresh South Carolina catches, including mahi-mahi, grouper, shrimp, scallops, and other options can be chargrilled, broiled, or pan-blackened and served with a selection of sauces such as lemon chive cream, roasted tomato vinaigrette, tropical fruit salsa, and pesto. Influences from Asia to the Lowcountry can be found in the tilapia, tuna, salmon, flounder, and rainbow trout entrees.
“There’s something for everyone here,” said Tassone. “For those who don’t like seafood, we have U.S.D.A. certified prime meats—the highest quality available.”
“It’s our lobster specialties that are becoming huge,” said Cowan. “We’re becoming known for having the best lobster in the area.” The Ocean Grille is one of the few local places offering live, Maine lobster. There’s just as much diversity in the lobster dishes as there is in the seafood. Offerings include Lobster Pasta, Crab Stuffed Lobster de Luxe, and Live, Whole Maine Lobster along with appetizers such as Lobster Ravioli and Fried Tempura Lobster Tails.
The panoramic harbor view of the Ocean Grille simply lends itself to seafood. It’s one of the island’s premier waterfront venues and provides the perfect place to take in the sights of the water, harbor, and Tuesday night fireworks.
There probably isn’t a better place to enjoy a glass of wine on the island. Cowan and Tassone have been working together to bridge entrees and wine offerings. “We have an exciting wine list,” said Tassone. “We’re always looking at what’s new and exciting in different parts of the world. We try to be ahead of the curve.”
“Our goal is pretty simple,” he continued. “We’re looking to build success one guest at a time.”
1 Shelter Cove Lane