September 8, 2012
4825 Minnehaha Ave. Minneapolis, MN | www.seasalteatery.wordpress.com
Open for roughly 6 months out of the year – April through October – Sea Salt Eatery is an enormously popular establishment for a variety of seafood-centric dishes. Located in Minnehaha Park near the waterfall, during the summer months you can expect to see long lines, with up to 60 minute waits, leading up to the door. With the mild winter of this past season, the Twin Cities were treated with an earlier-than-usual opening of Sea Salt Eatery.
A few weeks ago the wife and I headed down to Minnehaha Park with the intention of tasting a selection of Sea Salt Eatery’s offerings. Previous patrons know that the parking situation at Minnehaha Park is not the most ideal, with very few stalls available near the waterfall to hundreds of would-be park goers. Even after finding an open stall, my visit to the park was soured by inconsiderate people who would run into stalls and stand there, holding them for their friend or family member who were several spots back in the line of cars waiting to park. Finding a place to park is just part of the battle leading up to eating, as we faced a 45 minute line to make it to the counter to place our order.
We had arrived mid-afternoon and found a few of the daily special items already sold out. There are, however, many choices so by no means did we feel restricted in our options. Upon placing an order you are given a number card and asked to wait for your food in one of three designated areas – one inside a large cafeteria type setting and two outside options. The main patio area, furnished with patio tables complete with chairs and shade umbrellas, seems to be the prime seating for al fresco dining. After ordering we opted to sit in the second outdoor area just north of the building.
Then the wait begins. Servers appear sporadically shouting order numbers and looking for the hungry patrons waiting for their food. We were given a number in the 20s and were a little shocked to hear the first number shouted by a server to be in the 70s. I had remarked somewhat jokingly that, by the logic of numeric progression, we were roughly 50 orders out from getting our food. This was unfortunately the case and led to an additional 40+ minute wait. Upon receiving the first of our food, with ordering time included, we were already 90 minutes invested in this visit.
Despite being a cold dish without much requirement for cooking, these oysters still took about 45 minutes to come out to us. The oysters were fresh and tasty, with a mild salinity and a sweet, somewhat buttery finish. The cocktail sauce and lemon add additional tang and brightness to the oysters.
Despite the long wait it does appear that food is sent out as quickly as it’s made, evidenced by the hot temperature of the fish tacos. Lightly battered, sweet fish is enveloped with the bright flavors of cilantro, onion, and salsa. The salsa was well prepared and added a great level of savoriness to the tacos. Marketed as two tacos, there is certainly enough fish to make four with the included tortillas. At just $4.95, this was a great value and my favorite dish of our visit.
This large basket of fried calamari utilizes the same light, crunchy batter as the fish tacos. Being a fan of the tentacle portion of both octopus and squid, I appreciated the balanced mix of different portions of calamari in the basket. The calamari was fresh, light, and well seasoned. Although there were a couple of lemons, I found that the fried calamari and aioli made for a somewhat heavy and greasy mouthfeel over time. A sauce with more sweetness and tang would have been welcomed.
Fried nuggets of crawfish are piled on this po’ boy along with tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, and a lemon. The crawfish are lightly breaded, giving them a delightful crunch on the outside with the soft texture of the crawfish within. The seasoning had just a hint of spiciness adding a little more depth to the flavor. The lemon, pickle, and tomatoes add bite and freshness which helps cut through some of the oiliness in the fried crawfish.
Taking into the consideration the food alone I did enjoy our visit to Sea Salt Eatery. The plates that we ordered contained fresh seafood with thoughtful seasoning and preparation. Sea Salt Eatery’s commitment to using fresh seafood is definitely apparent in the quality we saw during our visit.
The challenge to eating at Sea Salt Eatery is the time involved when it is a busy day. Others have told me that my experience with the wait to order and receive food is not uncommon. While the food is good and I did enjoy the flavors, I did feel that I could enjoy similar quality and flavor elsewhere without the 90 minute wait. Overall it was certainly worthwhile to experience Sea Salt Eatery, especially with the beautiful weather that we were able to enjoy while eating. I do recommend you try Sea Salt Eatery at least once, but try to visit on a slower day or during off hours to limit the wait if possible.
Sea Salt Eatery
4801 Minnehaha Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55417