Oceanaire's happy hour goes swimmingly

Now that Ocean has closed, no one will ever make a reservation at Oceanaire thinking they're dining in Cherry Creek.

But once you step inside Oceanaire, the Denver link in a national chain of upscale seafood houses that debuted last year at 1400 Arapahoe Street, you could never mistake it for the restaurant Jim Sullivan created out of the remains of Mao.

Oceanaire is all sleek, smooth lines, with a smart design that evokes art deco-style ocean liners. The dining room is elegant yet comfortable, the food impressive enough to earn Oceanaire the Best Seafood Restaurant award in the Best of Denver 2008. But the best place to appreciate this culinary trip may well be the bar, where the view includes the raw bar filled with oysters, shrimp and other sea creatures; a big TV (why not watch the next debate over a plate of oysters, as raw as the emotions onscreen?); solo diners from out of town or just delaying the trek home; and entertaining bartenders shaking up icy martinis.

And pushing the happy-hour menu, which runs until 7 p.m. and includes ahi sliders for $6 (spanking fresh tuna chopped and burgerized) or a boatload of matchstick fries for just 95 cents.

All aboard.

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