Ocean Prime Ahi Tuna Tartare

Ocean Prime’s Ahi Tuna Tartare. // Photo Cameron Mitchell Restaurants

For a city touted as “Cowtown,” there sure are plenty of upscale seafood restaurants on the Plaza these days.

The addition of the posh, new Ocean Prime Kansas City will soon up the ante to four high-end seafood eateries in a mere four-block radius, which also includes Jax Fishhouse, McCormick & Schmick’s, and Eddie V’s. 

The Columbus, Ohio-based Ocean Prime, which is set to open on February 8th, has been in the works for more than two years according to Cameron Mitchell. The CEO of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants says he’s always had his eye on Kansas City, ever since he helped open a restaurant here back in the early 80s. “We looked at a site here about 10-15 years ago,” adds Mitchell. “I always find myself coming back to KC one way or the other.”

But is there now an overabundance of fish joints on the Plaza? Mitchell says it’s quite the opposite.

“When we look at other sites, we look at our competition and see if they are doing well—and they are,” he says. “Competition is good and makes businesses tougher and pushes them to do better. You can’t sit on your laurels and expect things to happen.”

Ocean Prime Ny Strip Steak With Garlic Shrimp Scampi Accessory

Ocean Prime’s NY strip steak. // Photo Cameron Mitchell Restaurants

Taking a deep dive on the Plaza

When Eddie V’s Prime Seafood swooped into the old Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse several years ago, it was met with plenty of fanfare and occasional sticker shock.

But its popularity has only grown over the years as the Plaza’s go-to place for special occasions, corporate dinners, and the intermittent celeb sighting. (Hey, Mariah Carey—we see you!)

During KC’s recent Restaurant Week 2022, reservations to Eddie V’s were one of the hottest tickets in town. The place was—dare we say—packed to the gills.

The venerable McCormick & Schmick’s, meanwhile, remains a consistent dining destination for seafood aficionados.

With their well-known sustainable seafood program, many of their beloved dishes have become staples on their menu, including the popular blackened mahi-mahi and cedar-planked salmon. 

Ocean Prime Smoking Shellfish Tower

Ocean Prime’s smoking shellfish tower. // Photo Cameron Mitchell Restaurants

Executive chef Culley Freese, who heads up Jax Fishhouse in the Polsinelli Building, says he gladly welcomes Ocean Prime into the mix.

“The more, the merrier,” the culinary pro says. “A little competition for everyone is a good thing.”

Freese adds that while Jax’s price points aren’t as spendy, he’s still finding ways to get new diners in the door to try his fare.

“What’s new? We’re adding Chef’s Table dinners on the third Thursday of every month—four courses for $75,” he says. “And you have to try our new grilled Norwegian salmon complete with charred Chinese broccoli, mushrooms aioli, and chile crunch.”

The new kids on the dock

Blocks away at Ocean Prime, it’s all hands on deck as the team finesses any last-minute tweaks.

Mitchell adds he’s just ecstatic to see the restaurant come to fruition. “This a special spot for us. This isn’t a chain restaurant—like, store number 74 coming in here. It’s much more important to us than that,” he says. “We want to be here for a long time to come. We want to integrate ourselves and become members of the restaurant fabric.

“I refuse to ever think we’re going to come in here and kick ass because you never know how the market will respond until you get into it,” he says. “Every night is opening night—that’s our motto. So, we’re gonna bring it every day.”

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