By Dan I. Cook
Like most people, I’ve been shocked by rising restaurant prices within the last two years. I’ve questioned some of these high prices and have felt the wrath of some restaurant employees.
All of a sudden, like seeing land after a long voyage across the sea, comes Ocean One Bar and Grille opening in Coral Springs, advertising $5.99 menu items for lunch every day and 3-for-1 cocktails/house wine for $11.00 all day every day. It seems too good to be true, so I had to go and check this out.
If you went here when it was Nick’s New Haven Pizza, you would recognize it still has the same layout. The only changes I saw were that the booths were reupholstered and the kitchen was more closed in.
As with any newly-opened restaurant, everything was fresh, new, and clean. The bar area is open to the main restaurant and has plenty of seating outside. However, they don’t allow smoking in the outside portion of the bar and patio area. This is a good thing because they keep the windows open in the bar section.
What’s also great about sitting outside is you get to people-watch everyone walking to the nearby gyms. There are two gyms in the same plaza as the restaurant, where some go to the gym and walk right through the outside bar and patio. I had a great time drinking my Miller Lite and watching them pass by. It has to be the longest walk of their lives. I applaud them for not stopping and sitting down at the bar.
My expectations of the food were pretty low. I mean, come on, $5.99 for everything on their lunch menu. How can this be when I’m paying $16 bucks for ten chicken wings at some “not fancy” restaurants?
Our table of 4 ordered: Spinach Artichoke Dip, Fried Calamari, Chicken Parmigiana over linguine, 2 Half-Pound Sirloin Bacon Cheeseburgers, Fish and Chips, Shredded Beef Tacos, Crème Brûlée, Key Lime Pie, and Chocolate Molten Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream.
I ordered the Half-Pound Sirloin Burger with Swiss, Bacon, and Mushrooms with Fries, medium. For dessert, I got the Key Lime Pie. I also sampled the calamari and spinach/artichoke dip.
First up, calamari and spinach/artichoke dip.
The dip was standard. It came with salsa, sour cream, and chips. There was nothing fancy about this dish, and I thought it was a tad salty. The portion was decent, and you get a lot of chips, so there were no issues there.
As I ate, I had to remind myself that this was $5.99. I have to compare this restaurant too, let’s say, TGIF, where this type of dish is being sold for $11.69. To me, it’s the same quality as TGIF, so Ocean One wins.
The calamari was lightly dusted and fried. It was served with a sweet Chinese Duck Sauce. The calamari was cut too thick for my liking and was a little chewy. It didn’t come with lemon so make sure you ask for some. A nice healthy squeeze of lemon is exactly what this dish needed. The sour/sweet combo was excellent. The portion size was good, considering the calamari was cut thick.
The calamari appetizer at Carrabas is $12.49, and the portion is larger. Is it $6.50 better than Ocean One? No.
I ordered the half-pound sirloin cheeseburger for a reason. Such a simple dish can be screwed up so easily, whether it’s the meat being cooked improperly, poor quality meat, the bun being worthless, and the set up (Lettuce, Tomato, Onions) not being fresh. I asked for my cheeseburger to be cooked medium and to add mushrooms, bacon, and Swiss for 50 cents each. This brought the price to $7.49, not including tax.
When the cheeseburger came out, it looked outstanding. When I cut into it, it was a perfect medium. Kudos to the chef. I thought for sure it was going to be cooked the BK way, which is well done. I was very wrong.
I added the setup and some A1 Sauce and took a huge bite. Damn, good for the cost. The patty wasn’t as thick as I would have liked, but the flavor was there. I’m sure it’s a frozen patty too, but honestly, I didn’t care. My mind was all on the price. In regards to the fries, they were also standard, nothing out of the ordinary.
Wings Plus Sample Road sells a Half Pound Burger for approximately $12.00. It’s an extra 50 cents for cheese and $1.00 for bacon. I don’t know if they charge extra for mushrooms, so I’m leaving that off. Theirs is approximately $13.50 before tax which can come with fries, too, at no additional cost. The difference is roughly $6.01. Is Wings Plus Cheeseburger better? Yes. Is it $6 better? No.
The Key Lime pie was ok and well worth $5.99. It wasn’t a big slice, and no fancy designs on the plate. It looked like key lime pie and tasted like key lime pie, which was good enough for me.
Overall, everyone enjoyed what they ate.
This is the X Factor with Ocean One. It’s what separates it from all the restaurants I mentioned and the ones I didn’t—3-for-1 cocktails and glasses of house wine all day, every day, for $11.00. If you drink liquor, this place is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow you’ve dreamed of.
I got their house Bloody Mary, which is made with Kettle One, Zing Zang, other spices, a lemon, and a salted rim. It was poured into a 5 to 6-ounce glass and was delicious.
Regional Manager Eric said the bartenders pour about one and a half ounces of booze in each drink. The glass size is key because no matter what, you will taste the alcohol. The chances of someone who is a casual drinker returning something because they can’t taste the alcohol should be slim. Hardcore drinkers don’t count, and I’m friends with a lot of them.
Excellent. For what this concept is, which is affordable food, drinks, and a casual atmosphere, this is a home run. This restaurant is not trying to impersonate a J. Alexander’s, Houston’s, or Outback. I like that.
Plus, after talking with Eric, I can see how they can keep prices so low. For example, no one answers the phone. All reservations must be made online.
No Uber Eats or DoorDash either. You must pick the food up yourself. They don’t use pens. Everything is automated through a specially designed POS system for which the owner Tony wrote the code.
When you get your check, you don’t sign with a pen. You just add your tip and be done. Setups for drinks and food are kept to a minimum. These small details save time and money.
I just mentioned a very important word here which is the tip. You do what you want with your money, but let me make a strong recommendation. Tip these workers well. If you usually tip 20%, maybe tip 25% or higher. The bottom line is to pay it forward. With money being tight for many of us, we are lucky to have an affordable restaurant like this in Coral Springs.
Let’s try and keep these workers happy, especially if you become a regular. I rate this 4 Beers.
Four beers = Outstanding
Three beers = Good
Two beers = OK
One beer = Needs work
Zero beers= Sucks (No beer is never a good thing).
To see both the lunch and dinner menu prices, visit Ocean One.
Remember to tell Manager Alex, Regional Manager Eric, the Owner Tony and Bartender Erica, Dan I Cook, and Coralspringstalk.com sent you and Stay Hungry!
Ocean One Bar & Grille is located at 2444 N University Dr, Coral Springs, FL.
- A native of Broward, Half-Samoan Half-Irish or Afa Tasi, Food Warrior, Beer Ninja, United States Marine, owner/talent of danicookeatdrink.com. Retired Oakland Park Police Department/BSO Sergeant, DLE.
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