BEST SERVICE AT A RESTAURANT - 2005
Oceanaire Seafood Room
1300 Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, MN 55403
Our short list for great service in Minneapolis this year was extremely short: sister restaurants Manny's and the Oceanaire, the Rick Webb family of restaurants including Zelo and Ciao Bella, and the Capital Grille. That the restaurants in question are able to replicate their excellent service in multiple locations is proof of what we've always said: Great service isn't born, it's trained. We're giving the prize to Oceanaire this year because we had to pick something to decide this photo-finish, and we decided to focus on how many new seafood facts and figures the Oceanaire crew has to keep track of: which oysters are sweet, which are briny, whether the Caraquets come from New Zealand or Prince Edward Island, and whether the Tatamagouches come from Nova Scotia or Washington. The difference between the gray sole, the lemon sole, and the Dover sole. How to steer a guest between Hawaiian ridgeback swordfish, Hawaiian kajiki, Hawaiian moonfish opah, and Balinese opakapaka. Whether that's a Chignick red sockeye in your pocket, or you're just happy to see me. Well, you get the idea. A great server knows what his or her guest wants before the guest has to ask; a great server acts as a seamless interface between the restaurant and the guest, easing every interaction, steering the best the restaurant has to offer to meet the guest's exact taste, and so forth. The amazing service crew at the Oceanaire does all that, and hustles, and learns the equivalent of two pages of Shakespeare every night. The cliché, of course, is that all servers, deep down, just really want to be actors, but if learning lines and giving a flawless performance is what makes an actor, the servers at the Oceanaire already are.