BEST SEAFOOD Minneapolis 2005 - Oceanaire Seafood Room
This year the Oceanaire chain added new restaurants, so now the locally based chain has outposts in San Diego, Atlanta, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and one forthcoming in Miami. Yet the Minneapolis one was the original, so the question constantly arises: How do Minnesotans sell fish to folks in fishing towns like Seattle and Miami? Isn't this kind of like Floridians selling snow to the Eskimos? Kind of, but not really. This particular cadre of Minnesotans has the one secret weapon that Minnesotans are famous for: sterling systems of internal governance. For example, there's Oceanaire's 72-hour rule, an internal guideline stating they won't sell any critter that's been out of the water for more than 72 hours. Which means that you can walk down to the dock in Honolulu and get older, less-fresh fish than you'll buy at Oceanaire. How's that? Well, imagine a Honolulu fisherman setting out on a five-day fishing trip. Day one, he pulls up some fish. He throws them in the hold. Day two, ditto. Day five he gets back to port, and bundles up his day-five catch for his biggest and most important account: Oceanaire. He puts it on a plane. The next day locals toddle down to the docks to buy fish fresh from that selfsame fisherman, but in truth those locals are eating fish that's been out of the water for five or six days, while Oceanaire customers, in Minnesota, Washington, and elsewhere, are chowing down on far fresher sea life. Almost makes you feel sorry for those poor coastal dwellers with their cluelessness as to the nature and variety of rooftop ice dams, their December suntans, and the sand constantly between their toes. Oh, it doesn't? Us either. Pass the lemon wedges.