During my stay at The Sanctuary on Kiawah Island I had the great fortune to have dinner at The Ocean Room. It’s quite a special dining experience. The Ocean Room is Kiawah’s upscale steakhouse and it’s the only steakhouse in the country to have received Forbes 4 Star and AAA 4 Diamond ratings. What I loved about The Ocean Room was that while they did feature your typical steakhouse fare there were also many other creative dishes. I was pleased to open the menu and discover that it changes seasonally and that the chef is committed to sourcing local beef, seafood and produce whenever possible.
The restaurant space is beautiful. Very southern traditional (following the general decor of The Sanctuary) but with huge windows overlooking the ocean. The restaurant feels warm and inviting (although they ask for evening attire with no denim or flip flops permitted and men must be in collars…they enforce this). The service was excellent but very formal. Service example…they didn’t bring out a course until the entire table’s dish was ready and they would have eight servers bring out the different dishes and place them in front of you in one big orchestrated gesture. No trays overflowing with plates here.
Our group consisted of eight people which was perfect for conversation and sharing. I got to sample so many dishes because we shared a lot of appetizers and sides.
The Ocean Room is the kind of dining experience that is absolutely not rushed. You’re encouraged to have a cocktail before dinner while you take your time with the menu. The courses are beautifully spaced giving you plenty of time to enjoy the course you’re on and then have a break before the next.
There was a Chef’s Tasting Menu with optional wine pairings along with their regular summer dinner menu. They do ask that the entire table order the tasting menu if you want to go that route but they do allow you to order a la carte off the tasting menu which I thought was nice.
The wine selection was incredible with over 1,000 bottles to choose from. Most were insanely expensive but there were some reasonable selections (reasonable, not affordable by any means). I loved the big wine service table in the center of the restaurant.
Of course an amuse bouche was in order. I expected no less. There was also a beautiful basket with a selection of warm breads but I tried to behave because I knew how much delicious food was coming.
We started with a few cold seafood appetizers including fresh oysters on the half shell and jumbo shrimp cocktail.
We also went through quite a few plates of the tuna carpaccio from the tasting menu which featured peach, saffron, citronette, chips and micro basil.
I ordered the Burrata Tomato Tart as my main appetizer.
I knew I could steal some bites of steak from my dining companions so I went with the fresh catch for my dinner. It was wreckfish with fresh peas and beans and a lemon-thyme broth.
Never had wreckfish before? Me either but my server explained it to me as similar in taste and texture to grouper so I knew I’d love it. I found this picture of a kitchen staff and a wreckfish on The Ocean Room’s Facebook page that was posted while I was there. Apparently they are huge and a little ugly although it did taste amazing. Now I know.
No fine dining experience is complete without dessert. Chocolate & Malt – Malt Ice Cream, Hazelnut Crunch, White Chocolate, Makers Mark Cordial. I don’t love chocolate desserts but after one bite of this I couldn’t keep my fork out of it.
But the shining star of dessert was the Carrot Cake Donuts – Cream Cheese Ice Cream, Carrot Powder, Caramel Sauce. We ordered multiple plates of these.
We ended up spending almost four hours in The Ocean Room. It was one of the best dining experiences I’ve had in a long time – lots of great food, wine and conversation! I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to visit The Ocean Room!