We've all heard of the seafood diet - "I see food and eat it." But seriously, if we had to subsist on seafood for the rest of our lives, we'd happily do so. We live in the perfect place for such a regimen: Our local eating establishments have some of the freshest, most delectable seafood to be found around these parts. Here's a roundup of the best catches from the briny deptchs, for your fustatory pleasure.
SEARED SCOTTISH SALMON
Enjoy the fresh flavors of spring with this unique gluten-free dish. A delicious filet of Scottish salmon, perfectly seared, is complemented by a satisfying crab and quinoa medley, all brightened by lemon and mint, and topped with a tangy tarragon mustard vinaigrette dressing. $25. 1935 W. Wayzata Blvd., Long Lake; 952.473.7373.
McCormick’s Pub and Restaurant
All the cool crustaceans hang out in the frigid North Atlantic, including the best lobster, which is shipped to the heartland for our enjoyment. McCormick’s takes the classic lobster roll for a spin, pairing chunks of tender meat with an herbaceous lemon tarragon aioli and crunchy-tart pickled carrots. The ingredients are loosely tossed and piled, as they should be, on a toasted buttered bun. Quintessentially New England, by way of Ireland and Wayzata. $15. 331 Broadway Ave. S., Wayzata; 952.767.2417.
ALASKAN KING CRAB LEGS
Lord Fletcher’s Old Lake Lodge
Boiled in court bouillon—a flavorful broth of salt, white wine and a mirepoix of sautéed carrots, onion and celery—king crab legs are fire-engine red, as long as your forearm, and frighteningly spiky. Don’t be intimidated, but be prepared to wrestle with your food. Friendly wait staff are on hand to oversee your endeavors. We say just go for it in any way that works for you, as the sweet, succulent meat is worth every effort. It’s served with nutty clarified butter—toss dignity aside and fasten that bib, because this gets messy. 1 lb., $45; 1.5 lbs., $50. 3746 Sunset Drive, Spring Park; 952.471.8513.
SEAFOOD PARTY PLATTER
Jimmy’s Food and Cocktails
It’s way too hard to choose among the different seafood offerings at Jimmy’s; we know from experience that everything out of this kitchen is expertly cooked and deftly seasoned. So we caved to the seafood party platter—every night’s a party when there’s shrimp at hand—with a delirium of mini crab cakes and wicked Cajun barbecue shrimp (the East Coast term “wicked” means tasty-as-heck in Minnesota parlance). Spicy, fried calamari complete the jubilee, and the house-made marinara sauce and lemon garlic aioli are hard not to double-dip. The two-pepper tartar sauce that comes with the crab cakes is wicked as heck, too. Serves six. $32.95. 11000 Red Circle Drive, Minnetonka; 952.224.5858.
Spasso’s mussels may reside on the appetizer menu, but they easily make a hearty main meal. The black-shelled, orange-fleshed lovelies enjoy a Mediterranean workup in the hands of Spasso’s able kitchen, simmered with chopped tomato, wilted spinach, a dash of lemon and good white wine. It’s warming, aromatic and just exotic enough. If you like playing with your food, have a ball: Scoop up some sauce with a mussel shell, gathering whatever floating delicacy you can snag in the broth, and toss it in your mouth. The dish is served with toasted ciabatta (Italian bread) to soak up the knee-weakening juice. The mussels come from Prince Edward Island in Canada, which is a mussel’s best possible provenance. $10. 17523 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka; 952.224.9555.
FRESHLY SHUCKED OYSTERS
Oysters have cultivated quite the reputation. Notorious for their aphrodisiac effects, a plate of glistening oysters on the half-shell is synonymous with the high life. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the oyster is that every once in a while there is a pearl inside. We haven’t found one yet, but that doesn’t keep us from slurping mollusk after mollusk at Blue Point in Wayzata, where they’re shucked on the spot. The variety changes per season, and the old adage about the safe months containing an “R” no longer applies—suck ’em down all summer if you want. It’s great fun to try them all in one go and entertain yourself and your guest(s) arguing the subtle distinctions between the varieties. Blue Point, the restaurant’s namesake, is known as one of the ultimate oysters for its exemplary balance of brine and sweet. These Blue Points hail from the Virginia shore; Malpeque, Big Rock and North Shore Gold all come from the icy Canadian waters of Prince Edward Island. Dabob Bay oysters from Washington represent the West Coast for good measure. Add a squirt of lemon or dab of cocktail sauce at your peril: The purist shuns the intrusion in favor of pure, sea-kissed oyster essence. Prices from $2–$3.50 per oyster. 739 Lake St. E., Wayzata; 952.475.3636.
FISH AND CHIPS
Fish and chips may be quotidian fare, but a really good plate of fish and chips is a rare ticket to heaven. Witness the no-nonsense rendition at Maynard’s, made from hefty filets of fresh halibut and served with their ever-yummy house fries. We love halibut for its fine-grained, snowy flesh, which righteously stands up to a vigorous dip in the deep fryer. The fish’s sturdy texture makes an ideal vehicle for big scoops of Maynard’s addictive caper- studded tartar sauce, which is sort of a mayonnaise with benefits. $15.95. 685 Excelsior Blvd., Excelsior; 952.470.1800.
HAMACHI NIGIRI SUSHI
Yumi’s Sushi Bar
When you want it, you need it, and Yumi’s is the place to go. Yumi’s sushi bar has the best raw fish around, hands down. Proprietor Yumi arranges daily seafood shipments; no need to fret about freshness here. Hamachi (yellowtail) serves as our litmus test for a good sushi restaurant: If it bears no smell, is expertly sliced and respectfully presented, we will trust whatever else the place recommends. Needless to say, Yumi’s hamachi is exemplary. This fish, by nature, is unbelievably buttery, soft and barely touched with a whiff of the ocean; for those wary of the raw stuff, we assure you that there’s nothing icky about this preparation. The glistening morsel of fish sits on sticky rice that is a bit sweet and slightly warm; if you choose to dunk your nigiri in soy sauce, do it fish-side down so the rice doesn’t soak up too much salt, which masks the exquisitely delicate qualities of the yellowtail. $5.95. 28 Water St., Excelsior; 952.474.1720.
Scallops live in the category of luxury fare destined for special occasions, which means that good ones are hard to find and hard to cook well. Scallops can be rubbery, over-fishy, or mealy; it’s best to approach them with discernment. Bacio, which means “kiss” in Italian, delivers a total scallop makeout session with daily arrivals from Coastal Seafoods. Like most fine dining establishments worth their salt, Bacio’s menu changes according to the season. We loved the crazy-buttery scallops paired with root vegetables and a citrus-based drizzle; next month, the shining escorts might be heirloom tomatoes, a berry infusion or local zucchini. The blessed constant is the crisply-seared, melty-centered, fresh as heck mollusks, each bite a velvety bacio of ocean brine and tender flesh. $31. 1571 Plymouth Road, Minnetonka; 952.544.7000.
The best shrimp cocktail for miles resides at Gianni’s, our classy steakhouse. Shrimp cocktails are the must-eat intro to a fancy steak dinner, and Gianni’s does nothing better than faithfully produce beloved classics. The shrimp cocktail is extremely popular here, which means the shrimp moves fast and therefore is always fresh. Four big pink beauties jauntily perch on a chilled martini glass, escorted by a lemon wedge and house-made cocktail sauce; sit back and enjoy the tradition, bite by bite. Choose chilled or grilled shrimp according to your mood. $18. 635 E. Lake St., Wayzata; 952.404.1100.
Ike’s Food and Cocktails Minnetonka
The Nicoise is a classic “composed salad”—meaning, prettily arranged—that originates from the city of Nice in the South of France. Ike’s being Ike’s, their Nicoise is a non-traditional version. It’s got the usual chilled green beans, tender steamed baby new potatoes, tomato, red onion and hardboiled egg. But we don’t miss the black olives or the anchovies one bit, especially because we’ve got four ounces of jump-in-your-mouth fresh Ahi tuna, which has been lightly seared to preserve a rosy red interior. It’s as meaty as a steak and beautiful to boot. The deconstructed salad separates each ingredient and lines ‘em up on a sizeable platter like good soldiers reporting for mess duty. We think the best choice of dressing for this mosaic of flavors and textures is the house-made citrus lime vinaigrette. It’s light and bright, playing to the brawny muscle of the tuna and the delicacy of the veggies. $22. 17805 Highway 7; Minnetonka; 952.681.7099.
The country of Greece is a collection of hundreds of islands scattered in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas; predictably, their cuisine relies on the ocean’s bounty and the chefs knows how to cook it all expertly—which often means in the simplest possible way, say, grilled with olive oil and a quick squeeze of lemon. Octopus is a particularly Greek sea-critter, and though it might sound off-puttingly crawly, it’s a tender thing, much more so than its cousin, the calamari. A chilled appetizer of octopus marinated in wine, olive oil, black peppercorns and herbs is both pungent and lively. Add some warm pita bread triangles and a fresh salad for a light meal; enjoy slowly while dreaming about the turquoise-blue Aegean sea. $8.95 15600 Highway 77; 952.912.1000.
Jake O’Connor’s Public House
Boxty is a classic Irish concoction, and nowhere near as frumpy as it sounds. The Dublin Boxty at Jake’s is an elegant gathering of tender sea scallops, salmon, mahi-mahi, haddock, shrimp and seabass swimming in a rich, sweet-ish lobster bisque. The boxty part is the potato pancakes which lie beneath the beautiful mess; they’re perfect for soaking up the divine juices and adding a bit of down-to-earth ballast. $22.95. 200 Water St.; Excelsior; 952.908.9650.