Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Restaurant Week 2011 - Sea Change. Or Lessons in Being Famous.

It's officially Restaurant Week in the Twin Cities and I couldn't be more excited.  I love any excuse to check out new places and revisit some of my faves, but more people seem to get on board with my dining habits during restaurant week.  My first stop was Sea Change with two of my lawyer friends, Jillian & Jessica, to belatedly celebrate a 30th birthday (Jillian's!).

I adore Sea Change.  During a previous and pre-veggie RW, I went to Sea Change with another foodie friend before we hit up a performance of Macbeth at the Guthrie.  The crisp skin arctic char on the dinner menu changed my life and the service was outstanding.  We were given plastic cups to take the last of our bottle of wine into the show and were allowed to come back and eat our dessert course after the play ended.  My experience was so positive that I was dying to go back.

The restaurant itself is fabulous.  The windows overlook the river and as far as I can tell, they have tables available for outdoor seating in nicer weather.  (As a Minnesotan, I found our 35-degree day pretty delightful, but we opted for an indoor table.)  The tables are sparkly and the artwork adds some intrigue without being ostentatious.  There is also a raw bar in the center that reminds you yes, this is a seafood restaurant.  But no, it's not Red Lobster.  Overall it's a lovely setting.  When we walked in, my friends mentioned how beautiful the restaurant is inside, to which I responded in my usual fashion, "You guys have never been here?  Well sucks to be you because this place is awesome."  I'm classy that way.  The manager heard me and apparently appreciated my uncouth comments because after we sat down, we were each treated to a complimentary glass of Cava -- a sparkling Spanish wine.  After our server realized one of my friends is with child, they brought her a glass of S. Pellegrino with orange juice, and Jessica & I split her glass of wine.  My love for Sea Changed tripled at that point, because everyone knows that the fastest way to my heart is free food or free drinks.  Sipping the sparkling drink made me feel famous, much like how Paris Hilton probably feels after her seventh free bottle of Dom Pérignon. 

 We checked out the RW menu and the regular lunch menu.  I was drawn to the grilled cheese/fries but my friends were unsure.  We asked our server about the bouillabaisse and the fish tacos, and he helped them decide on the bouillabaisse.  Our server pretty much rocked, by the way.  The food arrived and I was immediately impressed.

My grilled cheese sandwich was perfect.  Thick slices of buttery, toasted white bread filled with smoked cheddar cheese, which I dipped into the roasted tomato aioli with every bite.  I was pleasantly surprised by the grilled cheese because my restaurant experiences with this classic sandwich have been mostly negative.  The bread is either too toasted or barely toasted and more often than not the sandwich is filled with way too much cheese or a mashup of cheeses that don't really go well together.  Now I love cheese as much as the next guy, and I'd probably hit that next guy and steal his cheese too.  But I don't like massive amounts of rubbery, overly melted cheese on my sandwich.  Cheese is not to be overdone people!  A common mistake.  Sea Change did it fantastically with a few slices of smoked cheddar that were melted just enough to still make it a grilled cheese sandwich.  The aioli was the perfect addition to this sandwich, adding a little extra depth and complementing the smokiness of the cheese wonderfully.

Now on to the fries.  They were good, I'd totally eat them again, but nothing special.  The fries were the thin, lightly salted and of the lightly fried variety.  Had they been served with homemade ketchup, I would have been in heaven.  Simple fries are the perfect vehicle for delicious, homemade ketchup.  I realize that I went to a seafood restaurant and french fries should really be the least of their concerns, but I love fries so I will order and review them to my heart's content at any restaurant kind enough to serve them. 

Sea Change did not disappoint and I would highly, highly recommend this establishment to anyone who wants delicious food and excellent customer service.  And a quick word about the practices of Sea Change, because that is what first drew me to this restaurant.  The chef, Tim McKee, designed the menu focusing on sustainable seafood.  The restaurant buys from fisheries that are committed to environmentally friendly methods of gathering and farming fish. I love supporting restaurants that acknowledge their broader impact on the world and take the opportunity to make a difference.  Sea Change recognizes its environmental and ethical obligations, and for that I will always be a fan.  Well done, Sea Change.  Well done. 

So seriously, go check out Sea Change.  Like make a reservation right now.  And if you don't get it for free, you should order their Cava because it's a drink for the famous.


  1. A little late to the party, but this review of Sea Change was great! I was there last May - we did a 4-course tasting menu before heading over to the Guthrie. No free Cava for us, though.

    However, brilliant food aside, I think the service is what most impressed me about Sea Change (not to mention the eye-candy that is the decor). Our server paced the meal PERFECTLY, which is greatly appreciated and a highly underrated skill. He was funny, knowledgeable, and seemed to be able to read us well - he only started in with light sarcasm after he could tell we were ok with it.

    As far as I'm concerned, Sea Change is firing on all cylinders, and I might have to make a stop there next time I'm in the Cities!

  2. Good point -- I love restaurants that pace out their courses as opposed to slamming you with everything all at once. The service at Sea Change is the best of the best in the Twin Cities! I'm glad you had a similar experience!

    Thanks for commenting! Glad you found my blog!