And with more than 40 restaurants, all with exceptional menus at great deals, who can resist?
Certainly not me.
So I decided to take a group of my friends to check out another round of three-course goodness. This time, for something a little fishier, at The Oceanaire Seafood Room — a place that’s boasted some of the best seafood in the Twin Cities.
With more than 10 locations nationwide, Oceanaire has made quite a name for itself in the realm of underwater creations. Its location, at the Hyatt in downtown Minneapolis, has been recognized for several awards over the years, including numerous “Best Seafood Restaurant” honors.
So, in other words, we were all pretty anxious for our Restaurant Week experience.
The Restaurant Week menu, though a snippet of Oceanaire’s offerings, was still difficult to narrow down for a three-course meal. Everything looked fantastic.
And while we tried to order a variety for tasting purposes, none of us could resist the call of the Maryland style crab cake appetizer — one of Oceanaire’s specialties. The cake was definitely jumbo and incredibly delicious. Stacked more as a crab cake cupcake, I was very appreciative of the amount of perfectly cooked crab inside. A lot of places seem to serve more breading than anything, where Oceanaire’s cake had a definite emphasis on the jumbo lump crab.
The mustard mayonnaise that accompanied the cake was also tasty, but truth be told, I thought it was a bit too pungent for the natural crab flavors. I mostly decided to pass on the mayo and enjoy the crab cake for its perfectly natural, juicy goodness.
For my entrée, I went with the cornmeal-crusted Canadian walleye, served with pico de gallo and cilantro crema. The portion was huge — a very good sized piece of walleye. The pico added a great kick to the dish, while the cilantro crema offered a perfect cooling effect. The fish was juicy and tender but I found that the crust was a bit much. It gave the dish a dry texture that wasn’t balanced quite enough with the juiciness of the fish — clearly not a huge complaint as I nearly finished the whole thing.
I also tasted my friend’s grilled Hawaiian blue marlin and without sounding cliche — it kind of tasted like chicken. It definitely had a tougher texture than I was imagining but still, it was delicious. The crust of the grilled BBQ chipotle sauce on the outside packed in a great char flavor to the dish and added a bold punch.
Another friend’s hoison-glazed grilled jumbo shrimp added a delightful sweetness to a perfectly prepared bed of seafood. The melon salad had quite the kick of spice, which balanced nicely with its natural sugary texture.
Another item of note — while it’s been said that most servers and wait staff simply loathe Restaurant Week, I have to say, our service at Oceanaire was exceptional. A water glass never went empty — and those are small glasses — and our food was always served as a full presentation.
Anyway, back to the food. The dessert portion was definitely the most difficult to decide. With a gourmet version of an ice cream sandwich, vanilla bean panna cotta and chocolate bread pudding on the menu, how was one supposed to choose? Clearly, however, it came down to one word for me — chocolate.
I went with the bread pudding and oh. my. goodness. It was heaven in a bowl. The raspberry sorbet was divine and vanilla sauce, so rich and creamy. And when put all together with the silky chocolate bread pudding — oh-my-gosh. No words. Simply, no words.
The full experience — both meal-wise and service-wise — was incredible. It was a great kick-off to this summer’s Restaurant Week — though admittedly, it didn’t leave a whole lot of room for a second experience this week.
Did you attend Restaurant Week somewhere? Where did you venture? Leave a comment and share your experience!
Sara Boyd is a web producer and columnist at WCCO.COM.