The New Oceanaire!

The Oceanaire Seafood Room is one of our favorite restaurants.  We've been going there for years and have never been disappointed.

Recently (just two weeks ago!) The Oceanaire moved from it's home in the Hyatt at the far end of downtown Minneapolis, to the heart of downtown, 6th and Nicollet.  Dave and I just had to check out the new digs!

It's easy to find and we took advantage of the valet parking.  It's just $9 and in that part of downtown it's a bargain.  The car was met immediately as we pulled up, just after 6pm on a Saturday night.

What hasn't changed is the service.  Everyone is extremely customer focused.  The staff work as a well-oiled team and if there are any issues between them they aren't obvious to the customers.  We were there early for our reservation so we took a spot at the new blue bar and had a glass of wine.    The bar area is smaller than the old one and they've added a couple of TVs.  This was a nice thing tonight with the playoffs going on!  But it definitely makes for a different vibe from the old Oceanaire location.

The new restaurant is definitely "hipper" or "trendier".  There is a lot of stainless and blue neon.  And the big fish that adorned the walls of the old spot are gone.  I think the only fish I saw was on one of the plates!

The restaurant is also a lot louder than the old one.  I don't know if that's the acoustics of the building or because the tables are so much closer together.  It got even louder when the table next to us was seated.  There were a couple of screamers at that table.

I do feel sorry for the wait staff.  They don't have nearly the room to maneuver in this location.  The bathrooms are just past the kitchen so you have to navigate through the staff as they are bringing out dishes.  Tonight there were chairs lined up in this small space too.  I'm not sure if they are there all the time (waiting area if the restroom is full?) or not but they added to the congestion in that area.

So if you're looking for a nice quiet, cozy spot to have a good dinner, this might not be it.  Maybe had we been seated in one of the booths we wouldn't have noticed the noise and hustle and bustle so much.  We were seated at a table right next to the bar so there was more staff activity where we were seated than there would have been in another part of the restaurant.

We usually ask for Marc when we go.  He's been serving us for years.  He has a great wit and a great knowledge of both the menu and the wine list.  Marc wasn't working tonight so we got Tamara.  Watch out Marc!  You have competition.  Tamara was great.

We generally either get an appetizer or dessert, not both.  We asked Tamara which we should do and she promptly brought over the dessert menu so we could look it over before we made our decision.  She suggested appetizers and we agreed.  Really I just really wanted one of those world famous crab cakes!  They are SO good.  For $18 each they should be, right?

Dave ordered, the Black and Blue Grouper.  It was a blackened grouper served over caramelized onions with blue cheese.  It was delicious!

I seriously thought about the "fish and chips".  Yes, they have fish and chips on the menu.  I don't remember seeing that before.  But I couldn't pass up the Pan Roasted Salmon Dynamite.  It was a spicy blue crab crusted piece of salmon with a Thai chili butter sauce and a little Sriracha sauce.  It was amazing.

We also ordered a side of roasted Brussels sprouts.  YUM!

After all of that Dave still wanted dessert so we had Tamara bring the dessert menu back!  Dave decided on the apple crisp.  It easily would have fed four.  We had to box up what was left and bring it home.

Tamara and the rest of the staff were incredibly attentive.  Our water glasses were never empty, empty dishes never stayed long on the table and when the bread ran out more was brought to the table.  Tamara even took our valet number and had the car pulled around as we were finishing dessert so we wouldn't have to wait for it.

So what was our bottom line?  The atmosphere is definitely different from the old Oceanaire.  Is that good or bad?  I don't know.  Tonight we wanted to go out, have fun and have some really good seafood.  We did that.  If we wanted a quiet, romantic dinner, I'm not sure.  This restaurant is definitely loud.  Maybe it would have been different in a booth, and we'll definitely request that next time so we can compare experiences.

The service and food are still outstanding.  And the valet parking was convenient if you don't like figuring out parking downtown.

Oceanaire remains on the top of our list of favorite places to go.  If you get the chance definitely check it out!  Ask for Marc or Tamara and we know you'll have fabulous service.

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