Sneak Peek: The new Seven Steakhouse is grown and sexy

Seven Steakhouse brought on acclaimed chef Sameh Wadi for a floor-by-floor makeover.

Seven Steakhouse brought on acclaimed chef Sameh Wadi for a floor-by-floor makeover. Hannah Sayle

Seven Steakhouse is ready to grow up.

When the downtown Minneapolis steakhouse and sushi bar was sold last December amid financial and legal troubles, its future as a see-and-be-seen hotspot was uncertain. That is, until chef Sameh Wadi came on board.

Nabbing Wadi, the kitchen maestro behind the excellent World Street Kitchen and Milkjam Creamery, and formerly Saffron, marked a surprise shift for the restaurant. How would his celebrated Mediterranean cooking mesh with the established steak and sushi format? Could Wadi bring culinary heft to a flashy but played-out concept?

A sneak peek at the space and its new food suggests he can, and he has. Step one of Wadi's remake of Seven Steakhouse starts with the new menu's debut this Friday night.

But first he had to sacrifice some fan favorites. If you loved Seven's firecracker shrimp, light the funeral pyre now -- that dish is no more. "I had to replace some items with things I hope people will like even more," says Wadi. Things like fried chicken and duck confit nuggets, served with the classic Frank's hot sauce and blue cheese; or a King crab and avocado toast with jalapeno and mint.

The steak and sushi combo is still at the heart of the menu. A dry-aged sirloin and a New York strip were served with a lick-the-ramekin brown butter bearnaise and a more subdued Bordelaise sauce. Wadi brings an especially fresh perspective to the sushi, with surprise ingredients like crispy potato, truffle ponzu, smoked paprika, greek spices, and olive oil.

"I got to put olive oil on a sushi roll," says Wadi. "That's a big fucking deal for an Arab guy."

His mischievous side comes out in the Russian Roulette, a snow crab and tuna roll with one piece that hides a dollop of ghost pepper sauce. "Who's the lucky one?" the menu asks.

From that question you can surmise that Seven is still a social spot, meant for date nights or nights in search of a date. Since ambiance is half the appeal of a place like this, overhauling the decor was always in the cards.

Of course, redecorating a restaurant as enormous as this one has to be done in waves. The bottom floor has already made the transition, its cheesy neon lights and drapey white curtains giving way to clean lines and sophistication. The sushi bar and the rooftop are the next two areas in Wadi's sights. Those spaces are still open to the public, and won't get that full makeover, or their new menus, for several more months.

Until then, you can enjoy a cocktail from the new drinks menu and a sushi roll or two under the rooftop pergola. It may be getting more polished in the weeks and months to come, but it's still pretty damn nice the way it is now.

Seven Steakhouse and Sushi
700 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis