Friday, November 18, 2011


We visited Oceanaire for my birthday on October 31st. We had not been here in a couple years and I wondered if it was still good since I heard Landry's bought the chain awhile ago. 

Our drink orders were taken right away and we were told about the daily specials. I think I had some sort of pomegranate martini and John had the Oceanaire martini, both very good. We placed our orders and bread and the vegetable plate arrived quickly. I think they used to have some sort of pickled fish on the vegetable plate, and I noticed that was no longer included. I don't care for it anyway, so not a bad change if you ask me.

John ordered a variety of 3 oysters to start with: kumamoto, blue point and fisher's island. The waiter gave us a great explanation of where each oyster was from and an overview of the taste. I like the blue point the best and John liked the kumamoto oysters so much he ordered three more of them. I tried a kumamoto and they were a bit strong for me. I actually liked the blue point oyster though.

My appetizer choice was the tuna poke. It was delicious; the tuna was like butter. The sauce had a bit of spice to it, but nothing overpowering. I'm new to eating tuna and fresh finsh in general and I wish someone would have told me years ago that fresh tuna is nothing like canned tuna. I don't think I could eat canned tuna since the smell is so awful! 

I ordered the carb cake entree. The Oceanaire crab cakes are basically the standard to which I compare all other crab cakes. These were still as good as I remembered them. There is a ton of crab in them and I love the mustard mayonnaise. It is like ordering crab legs, but much less work! My only gripe is that they were maybe a tad too crispy on top, maybe they stayed in the broiler just a little too long. And I noticed when the entrees arrived, another server delivered them and he had to ask who had what. I guess at a place like this I expect them to know the answer to that question without asking. 

John ordered the Hawaiian coral cod grilled and it was excellent. The fish was light, flaky and buttery tasting; perfectly cooked. It was not fishy tasting at all. It was also a very large serving. Where have they been hiding all of this delicious fish my whole life? In Hawaii I guess. 

Since it was my birthday we were treated to the baked alaska. It had pumpkin ice cream inside and was delicious. The merengue on the outside had a bit of crunch to it to due to the flames. I enjoyed the showmanship most of all, but I have a thing for foods prepared or finished table side! 

This was a wonderful birthday dinner overall. The service here is always great and tonight was no exception. Our server was friendly, funny and very knowledgeable. I don't think too many things have changed with the Landry's buyout that I could detect. They still fly the fish in daily and quality and service continues to be excellent. 

Oceanaire will be moving at the end of the year to the old M & S Grill location on Nicollet Mall. Hopefully, the new location will be a good thing and revive the brand a bit much like Manny's move did for them. 

Discounts: Not much in the way of discounts here. I did notice they have a daily happy hour from 5-7 pm with  food specials starting at $5 and $3 tap beers and $4 glasses of wine. Check out their website for a current menu. They also offer a 10% discount to AAA members. 

The Oceanaire Seafood Room
Hyatt Regency Hotel
1300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Phone: 612-333-2277

Monday, November 14, 2011


We visited Rinata on Sunday, October 30th. I had been wanting to visit for awhile since they are listed in the Entertainment dining book and it was a new addition for 2011. They are also in the 2012 Entertainment book. 

We arrived on time for our reservation and were seated promptly. They had a four course dinner special for $20 per person, which sounded great. Apparently this is a Sunday special they offer every week. It took awhile before our server stopped by to greet us and take our drink order. In the meantime, someone else poured our water. Once the waiter appeared to take our drink orders were asked a few questions. When he delivered our drinks we placed our food orders. Then, the waiting started. The waiter said he was going to bring us bread and we waited 15 minutes and it had not arrived, so I asked for it. Then it was another 20 minutes before our first course arrived, which was bruschetta with white beans and pesto. It was very tasty, maybe a bit bland and at this point we were very hungry. 

The next course was the salads, and we waited another 20 minutes for them to arrive after the appetizer dishes were removed. I forgot to take a picture, because I was so hungry. This happens to me a lot. I'd blog about more places if I remembered to take more photos. We both ordered Caesar salads and they were quite good with a caesar dressing that tasted like it was made from scratch. I wondered if there were anchovies in the dressing. Hopefully, because I think authentic caesar is supposed to have anchovies in it. 

There was more of a delay after the salad plates were removed, but I do not recall exactly how long. I had the butternut squash ravioli. This was a great dish. The ravioli was fresh and cooked perfectly. I liked the brown butter sauce as well. I'd been craving butternut squash ravioli and this hit the spot. I had looked at their menu online in advance and planned on ordering it all along. I was lucky it was included as a choice on the $20 special. This was worth the long wait. 

John had the fettuccine puttanesca with shrimp which was spicy due to chili flakes in the tomato sauce. It was delicious and had just the right amount of spice. I was impressed with the large number of shrimp in the dish, I think there were at least seven or eight in the serving. Overall, both pasta dishes were really good. Fresh pasta, fresh ingredients. Worth all the waiting? I'm not sure. Either way, the pasta was way better than anything you'd get at a chain in the suburbs. 

The tiramisu was excellent. It was cool, but not cold, the cake was very light and fluffy and the cream was light and rich. I'm not usually big on dessert, but this was really good. 

I really liked the food at Rinata, but the service was extremely slow on our visit. It took over two hours for the four course meal. I was not expecting to be in and out of there in an hour, but I think two hours was excessive. I saw tables that arrived after us, leave before us and they had the four course meal as well. I'm not sure what happened to our orders; we were told the kitchen was backed up while we were waiting for our salads and no explanations were offered after that. The server offered me a complimentary glass of wine with my entree due to the wait, which was nice. I was still hungry, but I was in a better mood at least! I'd like to give Rinata another chance, but it may not be anytime soon. But for a place listed in the Entertainment book, it was good since some of the places in there can be very hit or miss. 

Discounts: Rinata is in the Entertainment book and we received $14 off our bill, in addition to the $20 four course special. It was a great value. The four course meal for $20 is a great value in itself. They also offer half price bottles of wine on Sundays until 6:30pm. 

2451 Hennepin Ave 
Minneapolis, MN 55405-2605
P: (612) 374-8998

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Jax Cafe

We visited Jax Cafe on October 21, 2011. We've been to Jax before, but I won a gift card on Twitter from TC Food Finds so we were happy to have an excuse to go back.

We called for a reservation at the last minute and they were able to fit us in at a high top table in the bar.   Even in the bar area the atmosphere was great. We could hear the piano music in the next room and the place was bustling with a variety of customers. I especially loved seeing several generations of a family with kids all dressed up for an evening out. Reminds me of when my grandma used to take me out for lunch or the occasional dinner when I was a kid.

I also love the garlic toast at Jax. It is the crispy, crunchy type of garlic toast. There were also some really good onion popovers in the bread basket.

Since we were seated in the bar I ordered off the bar menu and got the Charlie's Tenderloin Sandwiches. I love to sample the Charlie's-style sandwiches around town. Too bad the original Charlie's closed years ago. (I may actually be too young to have eaten there as I think it closed in the early 70's and I can't often say stuff like that anymore!) This was a great rendition of the Charlie's sandwich with rare tenderloin, a soft bun and a good, zippy horseradish sauce. I also ordered a side of fries, which were really, really good. Very fresh tasting and they came with a side of hollandaise sauce too. This was not a healthy meal, but it was all so delicious!

John ordered the Pan Seared Scallops with spinach. The spinach was sauteed with garlic and it smelled and tasted great. The scallops were cooked perfectly and very delicious, but a little on the salty side. John's entree also came with a caesar salad. It was a good salad and I think the croutons were crumbled bits of garlic toast.

We enjoyed Jax a lot and would return again. It is a NE Minneapolis gem, a great old school restaurant and I hope it is around for many more generations.

Discounts: We happened to win a gift card to Jax from TC Food finds on Twitter awhile ago. I don't think they usually have any coupons, but they do have a weekday happy hour. I believe they had discounted beer and some food specials.

Jax Cafe
1928 University Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418
PH: (612) 789 – 7297

Monday, November 7, 2011


We visited Risotto for the first time on October 7th. It was in the Entertainment book and I had been wanting to use the discount all year. Somehow summertime just did not say pasta to us. We made a reservation in advance, but the restaurant was pretty quiet when we arrived, so I'm not sure a reservation was necessary.

I had the funghi porcini e pollo risotto because I figured I should try the restaurant's namesake dish. The risotto had sautéed leeks, chicken and porcini mushrooms and asiago cheese. It was very good, but really, really hot when it arrived. I could not eat it for 10 minutes or so. I thought the dish was good, very creamy with a good amount of chicken in it. Sorry for the bad photos, the restaurant was very, very dark and I don't like to use my flash in restaurants.

John had the rigatoni ai sugo di carne e funghi which had italian meat sauce with sautéed mushrooms and romano cheese . He said the meat sauce had a good amount of flavor, but the pasta was a little too done and rather chewy. It looked like a large portion as well.

The service was prompt and friendly. Overall, the food was much better than any chain Italian restaurant, but it was not overly memorable because everything was just acceptable and nothing was amazing that I'd want to go back for.

Discounts: Risotto was in the 2011 Entertainment book and we got one entree free with the discount I believe. Unfortunately, they are not in the 2012 Entertainment book.

610 W Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55408