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Headed to the Oceanaire this weekend

k
kevin47 Mar 31, 2011 05:36 PM

Aware of the recently negative reviews. Don't need to be reminded.

Money not particularly an object.

What should I get?

  1. j
    JimGrinsfelder Apr 21, 2011 05:23 AM

    If I were going to Oceanaire, I'd get oysters on the half shell and a vodka martini. When I last ate there, I was unimpressed with the fish, the giant shellfish mountain and the desserts.

    Full Disclosure: I have not eaten there in over a year.

    1. k
      kevin47 Apr 19, 2011 05:02 PM

      Suppose I should review after starting a whole thread here....

      First of all, I expect big things from a place like this. I mean that in the semi-literal sense. Make it big. Razzle-dazzle and all that. From a service perspective, an absolute victory. Our waiter was gregarious, knowledgeable, but also charismatic and fun.

      On the food side, we were immediately presented with a tray of inedible vegetables on ice. The canned olives didn't taste canned, nor did they taste like olives. The bread was dry, and the butter hard. What is the point of this? I would have traded the above for a Red Lobster cheesy biscuit, and I'm not even intending that to be mean.

      The crab cake was as advertised. Crabby, with just enough gunk to keep the thing a cake, and very tasty. My oysters were fine, and the clam chowder was beautiful. In fact, you could make a decadent meal of those three items.

      Our entrees, the $29 (!) shrimp scampi and $29 (not !) monkfish, were just fine. To which, why on Earth should shrimp scampi cost as much as a fish entree? The shrimp were good quality, if a bit overdone, but the preparation is, essentially, butter noodles with shrimp.

      Monkfish was good, with a very rich flavor. A shallot-heavy (fine by me) sauce that nonetheless let the fish speak for itself. The pappardelle accompaniment was awash in the sauce, and sort of lost generally.

      The roasted beet side is, well, a hell of a lot of beets. We wound up taking most of them home, and I made my own beet salad out of them the next day.

      Was disappointed to learn that baked desserts are still made by Parasole. As such, we settled for creme brulee.

      The thing was giant. Flavor was boilerplate, ostensibly a Thai coffee variation. The custard was inconsistent, which is probably why most creme brulee isn't, you know, giant, but wife liked it, so what do I know?

      Overall, good, but not great. There is no excuse for those vegetables, or for the bread either, and the food needs flair to match the presentation generally.

      A week later, we received a hand-written note thanking us for eating there. I've appreciated the gesture in the past, but for some reason, it felt sad, like an apology that wasn't really warranted.

      2 Replies
      1. re: kevin47
        nsxtasy Apr 20, 2011 06:07 AM

        Wow. Sounds to me like an enjoyable dinner...

        1. re: nsxtasy
          k
          kevin47 Apr 21, 2011 07:06 AM

          It certainly was. There were some disappointments, but I think the place delivers good seafood. I also think they could upgrade the experience with a bit of imagination.

      2. b
        BatMan Apr 1, 2011 08:16 AM

        I always order the king crab leg - huge and sweet as can be. It's not always on the menu but you can usually get it if you ask. The presentation is funny - big white plate with nothing but a huge crab leg and a prig of parsley.

        1. Latinpig Mar 31, 2011 09:28 PM

          The halibut steak black and blue stuffed with crab or the sole meuniere are both excellent. Get a second mortgage for the sole.

          1. b
            baa Mar 31, 2011 08:37 PM

            It's been a few years since I've been there, but the crab cakes I had (I just had the appetizer) were the best I've had in Minneapolis.

            1 Reply
            1. re: baa
              s
              Seige Apr 1, 2011 01:23 PM

              Ditto - it's been a few years since I've been there, but the crab cakes were every bit as good, if not better, than the ones I've had in Baltimore. Looking forward to your report back... I haven't been anxious to return given the crappy reviews.

            2. s
              shadowfax Mar 31, 2011 05:38 PM

              Fish ;)

              What you get depends on your taste. Some people don't like mild fish. Some don't like strong. The waiters are knowledgeable about the product, so don't be shy about quizzing them. If you're not used to ordering fish, ask the waiter for a recommendation, and give him a couple of guidelines (I don't like strong-tasting fish, and I don't like finding bones)

              3 Replies
              1. re: shadowfax
                k
                kevin47 Mar 31, 2011 06:03 PM

                So you would recommend the fish over the lobster/crab/scallop offerings? My only experiences with lobster are on the bays of Maine and Massachusetts (wonderful) and at Jensens (the popovers were tasty), but if this is a close approximation to the former, I might be inclined to treat myself.

                1. re: kevin47
                  nsxtasy Apr 1, 2011 11:18 AM

                  I don't speak for shadowfax, but the word "fish" is often used to include shellfish such as you ask about as well as flat type fish. I assumed he/she was using the inclusive definition, and was not excluding shellfish.

                  I have not eaten at the Oceanaire in Minneapolis, but I've always enjoyed what I've had in numerous meals at the one in Indianapolis. Once they had FRESH Alaskan king crab legs (which are almost always shipped frozen) and they were awesome.

                  1. re: nsxtasy
                    s
                    shadowfax Apr 1, 2011 01:05 PM

                    I've never had any of Oceanaire's shellfish, unless you count the clam chowder (which I enjoyed) so I can't really recommend it one way or the other. If I recall from the menu, if you order whole lobster, it's Maine, not rock, and so assuming the chefs know what they're doing with lobster (which, really, is one of the easiest things on their menu to cook) it should be pretty much what you got in Maine, only a whole lot more expensive.

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