New Cheap Seafood With A View

Strangely enough, one of the most consistent complaints people e-mail me about regarding the Twin Cities dining scene is this: I love Sea Salt, but I hate waiting for it! Sea Salt of course, being the ultra-fresh, very cheap seafood restaurant in the park pavilion near Minnehaha Falls—the one that inspires two-hour waits every sunshiney weeknight and weekend day. When I get these complaints, I typically suggest that people can go to Sea Salt when it’s gray and rainy (which no one ever takes me up on), and that’s all I’ve got. I can’t make restaurants out of thin air. But you know who can? Tim McKee! And Erik Andersen, his chef de cuisine at Sea Change, the wonderful sustainable seafood restaurant in the Guthrie Theater.

In late May, Andersen tells me, Sea Change will debut a lower-priced, grill-focused grill restaurant out back on a patio—one with a million-dollar view overlooking the Mississippi River. This grill restaurant will operate the same hours that Sea Change does, and will offer the restaurant’s bar menu and a few other select items—like Andersen’s bacon cheeseburger, in which the bacon is ground right into the patty (and which can be ordered topped with a Jidori chicken egg, as featured this week in the New York Times as the hottest chicken in Los Angeles).

I tried Andersen’s burger, with chicken egg, and can report it’s very good: Lots of smoky flavor is in the burger, and the Jidori chicken egg is unbelievably thick, almost like cold honey; pierce the runny yolk with a fork and it spills slowly over the burger, turning it into the richest piece of meat I can remember. The bun from Salty Tart is a perfect foil, smoky (from bacon!), soft, and sweet, as is the sweet and salty house-made pickles. So, burger fanatics, mark your calendars for Sea Change’s new patio grill in late May. (The restaurant is also currently serving a killer shrimp roll that’s very fresh—sustainable!—shrimp dressed lightly in mayonnaise and stuffed into a soft poor-boy roll with salty good tomatoes and lettuce. It’s one of those sandwiches that just cries summer.)

Still, most interesting to this critic is what Andersen told me will be the focus of the new patio spot, a catch-of-the-day which will be served simply grilled. Of course, this will be a sustainable catch-of-the-day following the strict guidelines that Sea Change has set for itself. An inexpensive, good piece of fresh fish in downtown Minneapolis with a view? Be still my heart!

More benefits: Bill Summerville’s great wine list (which has added a number of budget-friendly options since the restaurant opened; there’s nothing wrong with a $24 bottle of French Sauvignon Blanc—Rin de Bois, from the Loire—beside oysters, is there?). More benefits: It’s on the Mississippi River bike-path and casual strolling distance from the Stone Arch Bridge, so perfect for all your romance-in-the-moonlight needs.

That’s it! You’ve got a month to wait. I suggest you bide your time waiting in line at Sea Salt, for soon the local monopoly on bike-path-adjacent, budget-friendly, chef-driven seafood will be over!

Sea Change
806 South 2nd St., Mpls.