• Restaurant Review: Ocean Prime, A Suburban Hot Spot

    FROM THE Summer 2019 ISSUE

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

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.


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After 36 years as director of the CVB, Peter Fitzsimons is retiring. By Shelley Levitt

In 1985, Peter Fitzsimons, a former hotel general manager, became the executive director of the newly formed Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau. He never left. In June, the 73-year-old Detroit native announced that he’d be stepping down from the role at the end of the year. 

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According to MPI’s report “Spring 2021 Meetings Outlook,” three-quarters of meeting professionals predict a face-to-face event this calendar year. And that definitely rings true for Lisa Williams, executive director of sales for the hotel.