OFFBEAT: Indy favorite brings coastal food inland

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-08-19T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Indy favorite brings coastal food inlandBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

After a few days of reporting from Indianapolis last week, Times readers began emailing to share favorite restaurant recommendations from their own visits to the Hoosier state capital.

There are only 12 restaurant locations of The Oceanaire Seafood Room around the country, and Indianapolis is one of the favored U.S. cities, home to this dining discovery that ranks as a top pick.

Even Chicago is sans The Oceanaire Seafood Room, while other locations are in Orlando, Denver, San Diego, Minneapolis, Dallas, Houston, Baltimore, Atlanta, Miami, Boston, Washington D.C.

I dropped by The Oceanaire Seafood Room, 30 S. Meridian St. in downtown Indianapolis and not only was the food fantastic, but the service also ranked first class.

Making me feel right at home, our server happened to be Peter Hatton, a 1998 graduate of Munster High School.

From large and luscious scallops to a velvety lobster bisque and rich and decadent oysters Rockefeller, readers were correct about the wide and varied customized daily menu of fresh seafood offerings created every day.

Executive Chef Mark Marlar, who is also an operating partner for The Oceanaire Seafood Room Indianapolis location, assures guests the best bounty of fresh seafood specialties.

During my visit, the restaurant was showcasing shipments of the Old 1871 Oyster. This Virginia-grown oyster is a summer tribute to the Great Chicago Fire as well as Chicago's storied passion for oysters, which were long traded for pork to the East Coast.

And according to legend, the Windy City's blaze-battling firefighters for Engine Company No. 3 were dining on these large-sized, Virginia-bred oysters, known for their salty, full-bodied flavor and rich meats with hints of brine, grass and celery, before called to battle the city's most notorious fire.

East Coast oyster farms hand-select the optimal growing space for the Old 1871. The fruits of their labor are these delicious Old 1871s. With a deep, elongated cup, they're a perfect receptacle for the thick meats made super flavorful by the cold, salty Atlantic tides.

An Oklahoma native, Chef Marlar has called many ports his home. He spent most of his formative culinary years in Colorado, where he cooked at the famed Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs and was a sous chef for the popular Big Red F restaurant group in Boulder.

In 2001, he settled in Indianapolis, where he held down the executive sous chef position at the Oceanaire Seafood Room for the last several years, distinguishing himself through his almost maniacal work ethic and strong menu creativity. He has a deep passion for locally sourced ingredients and enjoys expressing them through pan-Asian and Italian cuisine.

FYI: (317) 955-2277 or

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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