Jonesin' for some seafood? Sea Salt is the place to be

By Amy Ledig

Spring in Minnesota is a mixture of relief and exhilaration. Finally, the frigid, snowy winter months have begun to fade, leaving in their place days that are longer, sunnier and bordering on balmy. I’m a list girl, and I’ve been waiting for weeks to start ticking things off-going back to Hidden Lake, getting the grill fired up, laying out in the sun. One of my favorite parts of the warm months in the Cities, though, is heading to Sea Salt.A seasonal operation, Sea Salt is open from April through October each year. My internship supervisor over the summer kept telling me I needed to check it out, but I was a little late to the party. Non-walleye seafood in the Midwest? My roommate and I, both East Coast girls, are immediately suspicious of seafood this far from an ocean. One trip just before they closed last fall was enough to change that.

The restaurant is in an old parks building in Minnehaha Park, a slight detour off of Ford Parkway just across the river. This early in the season it’s still not too much to look at, but once the nice weather is here to stay, the green setting is positively idyllic. Heading inside, giant chalkboards list regular items as well as specials, most of which seem to have Cajun elements. This is definitely not a place for non-seafood types. The “Not Seafood” section on the online menu includes just two items-veggie burger and veggie tacos-neither of which I’ve gotten involved with; it’s just not what you’re there for.

What you are there for are the incredible crab cakes and the various presentations of fried fish. The crab cake basket is becoming my go-to item there. They’re moist, not stingy with the crabmeat, crispy on the top but deliciously tender inside, with a creamy corn and red onion salsa on top. The coleslaw that comes on the side isn’t really my type, but the slice of cantaloupe or honeydew the baskets come with provide a needed sweet counterpoint to the savory dishes. Any dish that involves fried fish is a win. The tacos – topped with salsa, onion and cilantro – and the sandwiches are good, but the fried fish basket, with just the pieces of fish and tartar sauce, is fine by itself.

The beer list, for those of age, is decent, including a variety of local beers, and the wine selection is fine. They claim to have the largest collection of hot sauces in the area, which I don’t feel qualified to judge but would believe; there’s an entire counter covered with bottles of liquid fire just waiting to be dashed on an oyster or two.

Sea Salt didn’t do other things so well. The shrimp tacos were fine, but seemed like they needed a little more oomph, and I like Baja Sol’s better. The calamari was disappointing; I wanted to like it, but the pieces were too big which left them chewy and they needed some type of seasoning besides the spicy aioli dipping sauce.

The things they do well, though, they do extremely well. So the next day it’s over 70 degrees and sunny, here’s the plan: Hop on a bike and get yourself to Sea Salt for crab cakes and then catch some rays down the road at Lake Nokomis. It doesn’t get much more perfect than that.

Sea Salt is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Oct. 31. It is located at 4825 Minnehaha Ave. S, Minneapolis.