• Restaurant Review: Ocean Prime, A Suburban Hot Spot

    Prime space for meetings with swimmingly good service and delectable fare.

     
    POSTED June 3, 2019
     

    The Motown Room can handle up to 10 for a meeting or dinner.

    The Motown Room can handle up to 10 for a meeting or dinner.

We just love it when a topnotch restaurant can accommodate groups for meetings and events. That’s the case for Ocean Prime in Troy.

With four meeting spaces that can be divided into five, this steak and seafood haven along the city’s Big Beaver restaurant row is just the ticket for meeting attendees and planners.

The largest space can seat up to 60, while a more intimate room, called the Motown Room, can accommodate up to 10.

“Each of the rooms, which is very soundproof, has televisions/screens for presentations,” explains Ocean Prime Sales and Event Manager Sue Simich, who is the point person for any party larger than eight. “The Motown was just added a few years ago,” she says, pointing to wall art of the Detroit skyline and Detroit vinyls (“representing Motown,” she says).

Another space is the Club Room, which can host 30. On a recent morning, Amerisure executives filled its chairs. Simich explains that the restaurant is a big draw for pharmaceutical dinners, financial services presentations and banking company meetings.

Often, attendees will opt to dine right in the spacious meeting rooms, ordering from a preset menu with three- or four-course options, or selecting fare off a full menu. “But sometimes, we will close the entire restaurant (companies or planners will do a buyout, for example) and we’ll then be able to accommodate 100 in the main dining room,” Simich explains.

Undoubtedly, a meeting here is extra memorable not only due to its modern, clean-lined, sophisticated aesthetic, but also, of course, the food. With a diverse menu that focuses on beef and seafood (fresh seafood arrives six days a week), Ocean Prime also caters to current trends, notes executive chef Chris Mayer.

“Right now, we get a lot of requests for vegan and vegetarian foods,” Mayer says. “We’ll often go off the menu and do whatever the customer wants but always have a special vegan item ready to prepare, made of a tasty quinoa cake of potato and quinoa blend, served with roasted vegetables and tofu. I keep tofu in the walk-in at all times,” Mayer says. “Extra-firm!”

The energetic chef adds that he can substitute tofu for just about any of the meats on the menu. “Yes is always the answer,” he declares. “We’ll do anything in our power to satisfy a customer.” Staff has even been known to run out to purchase a fresh tiramisu elsewhere. “That’s not on our menu and a patron wished it was, so we sent someone on an errand.”

Speaking of cake, if your group wants a special cake or dessert served after the meeting, or even a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, Mayer says, “no problem.”

But let’s get back to the dining experience. Popular main dishes include the Chilean sea bass. “It’s the crown jewel entrée,” assures Kip Donlon, general manager. “It makes you feel like royalty.” Indeed, Mayer prepares it simply but deliciously, broiling it with what they call their seafood seasoning (a mix of nine different spices). “We broil it at 1,200 degrees so it gets a crust, and inside, it’s super flaky. You’d think it was cooked in butter,” Mayer says.

Teriyaki salmon and its shiitake sticky rice also are popular.

“I like the bone-in filet with brie and mushrooms,” says Donlon. Mayer adds: “Same, but with a rib eye cut. Rib eye is my end-all, be-all steak, medium rare.”

Top service, top food. You can’t go wrong. The icing on the business cake is its referral program. “For business gatherings, we have a great referral program to reward repeat large party reservations,” explains Simich.

 

You’ve seen that look before. A few hours after attendees have been in a meeting, their eyes start to glaze over, heads nod, arms stretch, and watches or phones get checked. Yes, it’s time for snacks and a mental break to freshen up the brain cells.

In truth, meeting breaks are a golden time for networking and catching up on everyday life with colleagues. So how do you make those precious 15-30 minutes tasty and memorable? We’ve gathered ideas about healthy, local and highly interesting treats so groups have something to look forward to when snack time rolls around.

 

Taking a page from the rise and success of microbreweries, distilleries are becoming trendy new gathering places in many mountain towns. Here are a few great options for tours, tastings and hands-on distilling experiences for group gatherings. 

Park Distillery
Banff, Alberta, Canada

 

It's the most wonderful time of the year ... unless you're the one putting together the company's annual holiday party. There’s no need for undue seasonal stress, however, say local party planners. Organizing the perfect get-together can be as easy as making your list, checking it twice, and calling one of the locations below. All are experts at making your upcoming event both fresh and festive, whatever its size. 

The Inn at St. John’s: 

Classy and Jolly