|Oceanaire's new home at the corner of 6th and Nicollet|
"I like to think of it as retro-meets-futuristic," General Manager Jake Uttich says of the decor at the gorgeous new location of The Oceanaire Seafood Room. "Like where the Jetsons would want to come to have dinner." The space, on the corner of 6th and Nicollet, does feel very much like the dining room of a cruise ship from a more glamorous bygone era. Even though their official dress code is business casual, elbow gloves and bow ties would not be entirely out of place either.
The champagne is flowing freely into tall, stylized glasses and the raw bar is well-stocked with sumptuous oysters on the half shell, perfectly pink shrimp, and spiny snow crab legs.
|Custom oyster bar at the new Oceanaire Seafood Room|
Not wanting to be the very first people to dig into the seafood (which is all flown in daily to the restaurant), we opted to tour the Barracuda Room, a private party room that accommodates about 25 guests, and chat with Uttich, who started out as a line cook at Oceanaire and tirelessly worked his way up the ranks to become GM in just four short years. He's a shining example of the restaurant's mission to create a lasting legacy, a project they started 13 years ago at their original location in the Hyatt Regency. "Being in the hotel did serve us well," said Uttich. "But it's really very nice to be at ground level. We feel much more accessible this way. Plus the valet is much closer," he laughs.
|Sleek and chic dining room|
When we arrived there were more staff members milling about than diners, but the place quickly filled with people excited to dig into the bite-size versions of some of Oceanaire's best-loved menu items. We sampled prosciutto-wrapped bay scallops with a rich white asparagus puree, citrus-tinged salmon tartare served atop crisp fried wonton skins, elegant crab cake sliders, and lightly fried escargot dotted with garlic aioli.
Oceanaire's first dinner service at the new location was January 17th and they plan to add lunch service Monday to Friday from 11:30 to 5:00 starting on January 30th. No doubt it will become a contender for best downtown power lunch, especially when the patio lounge opens in the coming warmer months.
|Opulent chandeliers at Oceanaire|