- We were offered an opportunity to come back and try Copper River Fish & Chop again (we paid $99.45 ourselves the first time), free of charge and with no obligations to write about our experience. We took the restaurant up on the offer and the review posted below should be taken with as much salt as the reader deems necessary following this government mandated disclosure.
As noted in the disclaimer above, Lazy Lightning was contacted by the management of Copper River Fish & Chop and asked to come back in and try it again after changes were made to the restaurant for the better. While a drastic shift for Lazy Lightning as we generally do not re-review restaurants previously visited, we accepted their offer and have posted a new review while keeping the old one available for viewing for historical purposes. Yes, we’ve been doing this more as of late and will continue to do so as it is something many readers have asked us to do in the yearly site surveys.
We figured if we stuck as best we could to the items ordered last time, we would be able to give a fair comparison of any improvements made. The last time we ordered one of each of the available oysters ($2.50/ea), the “Angry Lobster” ($28.95) and the 10oz filet ($32.95) with a side of Lobster Shells and Cheese ($9.95). This time we ordered one of each oyster (there were 7 available), the Panko-dusted Crab Cakes ($14.95), 10oz Cold Water Lobster Tail ($22.95), and a 10oz Filet ($32.95). While the first time around the steaks were ala-carte and the lobster came only with mashed potatoes, this time both were paired with garlic mashed and large asparagus spears.
While I’m certain this was no accident, our server was fantastic from start to finish. He was there only when we needed him to be and he was not only personable and friendly, he was also quite knowledgeable. If this guy wasn’t hired to train every single server to be his clone, he should have been. He brought us out their signature starter, an EXTREMELY garlicky dish with pita wedges. I love garlic and I am not shy about this love but even this was a bit too much garlic for me. My stomach later agreed with this assessment and The Wife nearly made me sleep on the couch because of it. Even so, the spicy garlic dish did carry a lot of flavor, I am just not sure most people could stomach as much garlic as we did without their own negative consequences.
The crab cakes and oysters were out in nearly no time at all. The oysters were very simply presented with the East Coasters on the right and the West Coasters on the left. They were shucked well and carried excellent flavor. They weren’t carrying a gallon of water each and the mignonette was greatly improved this time around; less like blood and ice and more like the refreshing and bright accompaniment it’s meant to be. In fact, it was an absolute delight to eat this time around. However, much like last time, the cocktail sauce left something to be desired and I stuck to lemon juice and Tabasco instead. Overall I was thrilled with the oysters and while I’ve had better, those were on the coasts and to be perfectly honest, these were almost on par with those–a testament to the work being done by Copper River to do something they probably should have made a priority in February.
Lazy Lightning reader, Ozzie, commented in February on the lack of plating ingenuity, the newly revamped Copper River has definitely made strides there while keeping the parsley present. The crab cakes were almost as beautiful to look at as they were to eat. While I really feared the Panko would add a texture I really didn’t want to have with crab cake, they really pulled this creation off well. Coupled with excellent crab meat and a mustard sauce which The Wife noted was almost as good as my own homemade version which she claims has yet to be bested by any restaurant, this was a treat and for someone who isn’t a big crab cake eater. I would definitely order these myself without hesitation. The Wife, a big crab cake fan, said while they weren’t her most favorite ever, they were very good and she had absolutely no problems wiping every last little crumb from her plate.
My steak and The Wife’s Lobster Tail eventually arrived. We weren’t keeping track of time as we had two extremely competent adults entertaining The Rooster and putting him to bed for us (many thanks to Sank and Mrs. Sank for the offer!). Much like the first time, my 10oz filet appeared much larger than 10oz. The Wife’s lobster tail measured the length of nearly my entire forearm (elbow to wrist) and was piled with meat. It’s an understatement to say her reaction was one of a 3 year old on Christmas morning with a pile of toys laid out before her but that’s the best I could come up with after seeing her face light up like fireworks on the Fourth of July when she saw that tail in front of her. The meat was tender, flavorful, and plentiful. While supposedly only 10oz, this had to be in meat weight alone. The Wife loved the lobster so much she was digging around in the tail to make sure the kitchen hadn’t missed some and her tenacity paid off with two more mouthfuls which she smiled coyly while saying, “knew I’d find some!”
Unlike our first visit to Copper River, this time my steak was cooked properly in every single way. Gone were the pointless grill marks and lack of seasoning. Replacing these issues were an evenly seared and heavily seasoned piece of meat that was cooked to near perfection. Honestly, and it surprises me to say this, I haven’t had a better steak in Minnesota and this was probably the second or third best steak I’ve had in my entire life. The sear was great and the inside was cool. I was surprised that when I offered it to The Wife she took a piece and another later. It was fun to watch her let the beef melt in her mouth and hope that she too would start ordering her steaks blue–like they should be. The meat was extremely tender and while they provided a steak knife to cut the meat, I’m absolutely certain a ballpoint pen would have sliced through the steak with ease. Any and all concern about the quality of the kitchen staff was erased in the first moment my near-carpaccio tenderloin dissolved in my mouth. While I don’t take kindly to paying $33 for a steak at a restaurant, I would gladly pay that price time and time again if they continue to push out what they cooked for us last night. It was worth every last penny and then some.
While we loved our entrees, the much appreciated sides left something to be desired. The asparagus were huge but mostly devoid of flavor and a few were still stringy. The menu claims they pair their seafood with local ingredients, why not do the same with their steak and lobster? And, much like the starter, the garlic mashed were loaded with a horrendous amount of garlic; so much so I didn’t bother finishing them. Again, I love my garlic but the thought of the smell oozing out of my skin in the shower the next morning (and considering how much was in there, the next three days) wasn’t appealing at all and probably should be toned down about 10 notches.
The Wife wanted some dessert and so we ordered two cups of coffee which came with a creamer pot which could have doubled as a carafe and being that we both like a little coffee with our cream, we put it to great use. The Wife waffled between the Red Velvet Cake ($7.95) and the 5 Layer Chocolate ($7.95) and while I would have personally preferred the chocolate, she went with the Red Velvet Cake which came with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on the side.
I am not a dessert fan in general but while the cake was absolutely enormous (certainly enough for three average adults) and the ice cream to be tasty and creamy, I thought the cake was too dry and the icing too sweet. However, The Wife who is a self-described dessert aficionado, it was good enough to eat 3/4 of and box up the rest for a midnight snack later.
While I didn’t do the exact math, it would appear our meal came to around $100. Copper River has made great strides to make their $100 meals on par with other great restaurants in town and have certainly convinced me they’re worth it. However, it’s going to take a lot of work to change the perceptions created when they opened as Copper River Fish and Chop in February and certainly the idea that it’s not worth it to get a similarly priced meal in downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul instead of a strip mall parking lot in Lakeville.
I really do hope Copper River Fish & Chop can continue to push out the level of quality we were treated to last evening as I think it’s on par with any of the high quality restaurants we’ve dined at in Minnesota over the years and I would love to come back again soon, however, I fear it may be too little too late but only time will tell.
Have you eaten at Copper River in Lakeville? What did you think? Have you been there more than once and have you seen the changes in quality over time? Would you still rather go downtown instead of eating in Lakeville? Are you willing to take a chance on them? Whatever you have to say about this one go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Copper River Fish & Chop House
17516 Dodd Blvd
Lakeville, MN 55044
See all the pictures from Copper River in Lakeville on Flickr here.