Ocean Prime Honored for Wine Program Again, Crafts Salmon Feature for Summer
For the 11th year in a row, Wine Spectator magazine has acknowledged Ocean Prime’s dedication to quality and genuine hospitality by bestowing its coveted Award of Excellence on the brand, now with 14 locations coast-to-coast. Two additional locations are planned for the fall and next spring in Denver and Chicago, respectively.
In order to receive the Award of Excellence, restaurants must typically offer at least 90 wine selections that represent a well-chosen assortment of high-quality producers. Wine Spectator thoroughly inspects all candidates to evaluate each restaurant’s commitment to wine – from cellar to table. The wine list must harmoniously match the menu in both price and style, offering sufficient choices to satisfy discerning wine lovers.
Every year, Director of Beverage Ryan Valentine, a 25-year veteran of the restaurant industry, works closely with each Ocean Prime location to curate wine lists that reflect these criteria and appeal to their guests. Selections range from rare wines available exclusively by-the-glass through the Coravin wine preservation system to more approachable pours.
“We strive to have the variety in selection from around the world that will match our guests’ interests and our cuisine,” says Valentine. “It is awesome to receive recognition from Wine Spectator for what we are doing with our wine program.”
In May, Valentine and his team launched Stop and Sip the Rosé, a summer promotion featuring four specially-priced rosés by the glass and bottle: Chandon Rosé, Miner Rosé, Veuve Clicquot Rosé, and Notorious Pink Rosé. Guests taking advantage of summer Fridays reap another benefit: As part of the promotion, Ocean Prime offers half price glasses of the Veuve Clicquot Rosé in addition to each restaurant’s existing Happy Hour offerings.
In other news, following an extensive research trip to Oregon’s Willamette Valley last fall, several members of Ocean Prime’s leadership team – including Regional Chef Ian Rough and Beverage Director Ryan Valentine – crafted an exquisite summer feature: the first catch of the season of wild salmon from the Columbia River paired with two distinct expressions of rustic, medium-bodied Pinot Noir.
Line-caught and sent to each location the next day, the salmon is buttery and full-flavored with a tender texture. Its presentation includes Oregon forest mushroom ragout; roasted tomatoes, fennel, and toasted garlic reduction; and finished with Dungeness crab salad, shaved fennel, and balsamic tomato vinaigrette. “The bright roasted tomato complements the fish well, and the sweet acidic vinaigrette with the crab brightens the whole dish,” says Rough. “It really hits all of your taste buds.”
This pairs perfectly with Pinot Noirs from either Penner Ash (by the Coravin and bottle), an established Willamette Valley vineyard, or WillaKenzie Estate (by the glass and bottle), an up-and-coming vineyard with bright, complex wines.
After visiting several local wineries on the trip, Valentine selected these two wines for how well they complement the richness of the salmon as well as the earthy accompaniments to the dish. “Pinot Noir is the ideal summertime red. These wines are light and feminine yet still possess the intricacy needed to enhance the flavors of this dish,” says Valentine.