There was big news earlier year this when The Oceanaire Seafood Room announced it would be vacating its original home and moving up the Mall. Hooray for new digs and new décor. But maybe the bigger news, the more important news, was that lunch was about to launch.
On the ground floor of the Dorsey-Whitney building on the corner of 6th and Nicollet, the new Oceanaire has access to, finally, the public. After being stuck in the armpit of the Hyatt for so many years, the newly spiffed restaurant seems ready to celebrate. Some of the trappings are a bit too shiny-skin and metallic for my tastes, but it’s still a conservative upscale joint that cooks seafood and chops for suits.
Lunch in this building, on this corner, seems like a no-brainer. There are plenty of lawyers and bankers on this end of Nicollet looking for the power lunch spot, and that’s who I have seen packing the place at the noon hour. The lunch menu smartly trades on favorites from dinner: the crab-cake club is a nice sandwich version of its popular entrée and can also be ordered as a slider. Though the menu is largely traditional, there are modern touches such as tuna poke with its bright, clean flavors and architectural stacking. Specialty salads, such as the Cobb with grilled shrimp and scallops, are nicely sized for lunch. Make no mistake, you can go big here: There’s a blackened marlin with bleu cheese butter, a center-cut filet with shrimp, asparagus, and béarnaise, and even a burger with Louis dressing. If you try to go easy with a simply grilled piece of fish, be prepared for it to run you $25 to $30.
While the presence of the oyster bar is sadly diminished, the new location seems to have fostered one of the best new happy hours in town. The blue-lit bar is packed with people slurping $5 calamari and fish tacos alongside $2 oysters like never before.
The Oceanaire, 50 S. 6th St., Minneapolis, 612-333-2277