One night when I was in Miami for a business conference, staying in South Beach, I found myself with an evening to myself. I walked down Ocean Drive, allowing all the restaurant hosts and hostesses to hawk their dinners and half-price drink specials at me, and finally arrived at a place that appealed: Oceans Ten. Now, I’ve read a lot of bad reviews of this place online, but my experience could not have been more different.
First off, the host, Raymond, was terrific. When you’re a 40-something woman traveling alone in a hip and trendy place like South Beach, you’re very well aware of the fact that you’re not exactly a member of the target demographic, if you know what I mean. But Raymond was just the right amount of flirty with me, while also being very courteous and respectful. He really made me feel welcome. He tried to steer me toward a table outside, but I insisted I wanted to sit at the bar, because that’s usually where I sit when I eat alone, so I can talk to other solos or the bartender. He seemed to think that wasn’t a good idea, but of course, was very gracious about showing me in to the bar. Within one minute, I realized he was absolutely right, the bar was very uncomfortable–literally. It sloped down toward me, so that I couldn’t rest my arms on it, and the bar seats were very uncomfortable. So I went back out and got a table instead.
At first I thought I’d feel awkward dining alone at a table on Ocean Drive. For those of you who haven’t been there, the tables for restaurants flank either side of the sidewalk, so there’s a constant stream of traffic going by your table. But once I had one of Ocean Ten’s famous $16 mojitos (biggest damn drink I’ve ever had in my life!), I didn’t care that I was sitting alone surrounded by groups and couples. (That was my only complaint about the place: The mojito was advertised as a “half off drink special”; which is true, but a little misleading, since I thought I was ordering a half-priced normal sized drink, not a half-priced godzilla sized drink that is normally $32. Next time, I’ll remember to ask about that.) I enjoyed my drink and watched the people and cars going by and every once in awhile, Raymond would come over and talk to me and make me feel welcome and comfortable. Then the food arrived, and it was fantastic: crab and lobster ravioli with sundried tomato and asparagus in a cream sauce. It was the best meal I had in Miami.
When I was done eating, I paid my bill and then asked about the live entertainment on the other side of the restaurant. Raymond had one of his waiters take me over and find me a nice discreet table along the wall where I had a great view of the stage, and I got to enjoy some wonderful, live Latin music with dancers. Every once in awhile, a waiter would check on me to see that I had everything I needed, but there was never any pressure to buy more drinks (thank God!). I sipped that same mojito the whole time I was there and took it back to the hotel with me and STILL couldn’t finish it. I’m surprised I could find my way back to my hotel.
Oceans Ten is a pricey place to eat or drink. No doubt about it. If you’re looking for cheap eats, keep looking. But if you’ve got some cash to burn and you’re alone and you just want to go somewhere where you can get a good meal with good customer service and a little live entertainment to keep you occupied, I highly recommend it. I really had a good time there. And I’m sure it wasn’t just due to the mojito. I’ll go back there again. Maybe I’ll bring some friends with me, and maybe I won’t. It’s nice to have choices.