This location is now closed!
Disclaimer: We received a free meal tonight as part of the Molly Cool’s opening preview. This meal was worth about $103.50 for 4 people. We paid for our own alcoholic beverages.
Following a suggestion by MSPD I was invited by one of the managers at Molly Cool’s in Lakeville to their preview night last night (thank you!) We had reservations for four at 7:20 and walked in to a packed house. In fact, the place was so crowded that I had to move across the “street” in another area of the parking lot to find a space.
A lot has changed from what everyone in our party remembered the space to be like when it was the Copper Bleu. Aside from the large gallon jugs of Tabasco adorning spaces where I believe wine bottles used to sit and the lack of colorful and soft chairs, there are many seafood related quotes adorning the walls–some of the many things which just felt out of place to me and detracted from what I remember being a really gorgeous restaurant. Honestly, Molly Cool’s is suffering from an identity crisis and while (according to my wife) it’s nothing like what we saw at Applewood Rustic Grille and it may very well have to do with the fact that we visited the Copper Bleu before it closed, there is definitely something wrong with the decor inside that made me somewhat uncomfortable.
Even though our reservations weren’t until 7:20 and we arrived at least 15 minutes beforehand, the hostess found us a seat that worked for my pregnant wife all the way against the back wall of the restaurant. This stunning seat offered an overall view of the restaurant and gave us the awesome opportunity to overlook a Quiznos, a tanning salon, and various other brightly lit strip mall shops. We sat down and were offered both the actual menu and the preview night menu. The full menu is similar to what’s offered at Stella’s Fish Cafe in Minneapolis but the prices are a little bit lower in what I assume is an attempt to appeal to those in the South Metro.
Tonight we had the choice of one bread option per table (Molly’s Jalapeno Skillet Cornbread, Gorgonzola Table Bread, Garlic Cheddar Cheese Bread, or Molly’s Popovers–regularly priced at $3.95), one appetizer choice per table (Bucket of Onion Rings, Hot Crab and Spinach Dip, Buffalo Shrimp, Sesame-Crusted Ahi Tuna), a choice of five different entrees that we could not repeat at the table (Salmon Oscar, Jambalaya, Shrimp Platter, 10oz Sirloin, Molly Cool’s Walleye Pike) and the chef’s choice for dessert. Due to dietary restrictions with the pregnancy we had a somewhat less sprawling choice than we started with but we ended up ordering the Jalapeno Skillet, the Hot Crab and Spinach Dip, the Salmon, Jambalaya, Shrimp Platter and Sirloin. Dessert ended up being mini-doughnuts.
The Jalapeno Skillet came out in no time at all. It was a pretty large portion of bread and was served with cinnamon/brown sugar butter and honey. You could see the fresh jalapenos baked in there and while I couldn’t really taste the spice I could taste the jalapeno flavor. And even though it wasn’t spicy tasting to me, one of dinner companions said that he could definitely taste the spice. While I don’t understand the jalapeno part at all, I really enjoyed this appetizer and felt that the portion size was definitely worth the $4.
Shortly after we finished up most of the bread (and took some home) our appetizer arrived. Also quite large, this was a nice portion of crab and spinach dip lined with plenty of bread for dipping. Another enjoyable dish but one where I felt the spinach vastly overpowered the crab. If you’re serving decent crab with your dip, why ruin it by pumping up Popeye’s arms? The most expensive appetizer offered (we didn’t plan it that way, I just noticed now) it was probably a bit overpriced for my liking but was definitely more than enough to feed four.
After an extensive wait, one which had me double-checking the time, our entrees finally arrived. My wife’s Sirloin steak with horseradish cream sauce was slightly undercooked (it was more medium rare than medium) and came with completely underdone green beans but had some pretty decent garlic mashed potatoes on the side. While her green beans and steak weren’t done to what we have become accustomed to, it is important to note that her dish was the only one that didn’t seem to have been sitting out for very long as at least her entire meal was at an even temperature. Unfortunately for the rest of us, we weren’t as lucky.
My Jambalaya which included Gulfport shrimp, chicken, Andouille sausage, Tasso ham and “a little” dirty rice came topped with a little surprise–a crayfish. Oooh, I fucking love crayfish. Before doing anything else I tore off the little guy’s tail and bit in and found the meat less than luke warm. My dinner companions must have seen the look of shock on my face before I even mentioned what was wrong because their facial expressions registered with a bit of wonder. The rest of my dish was both warm and hot. I ended up mixing it all together to try and even out the temperature, something which ended up muddling the flavors of the various parts of the dish a bit. I thought the Andouille was good and was definitely the highlight of the dish for me but even so, the rest of the meat options were tender and flavorful. My sole complaint about the dish was only that, if served to anyone else, it would be *way* too spicy but for me, it was just fine.
One of my dinner companions had the Salmon Oscar. While he said that it was cooked just fine, it was your typical fish dish ruined by sauces and blackening spices. I mentioned that I’m sure that the average person eating that dish doesn’t really want to taste the salmon and instead wants it doused in heavy sauces and loaded with spices just to kill the fish flavor.
Another dinner companion had the Shrimp Platter, a huge disappointment in my eyes and the eyes of everyone at the table. In fact my wife even mentioned that she was glad she didn’t end up with it. Battered shrimp dominated the dish but a nice little side of scampi was offered. Unfortunately three of us at the table agreed that the scampi sauce tasted off but it wasn’t anything which we could really place a finger on. One person thought it had very little garlic, another said it was like they prepared the recipe incorrectly, and I thought it was missing the wine I’m so accustomed to tasting. After tasting the shrimp laying in the sauce I was convinced that the fishy tasting flesh was the reason for the off taste. Disgusting.
Our dessert, something which could have washed the fish taste out of our mouths after the shrimp scampi debacle, was nothing more than mini-doughnuts. While beggars cannot be choosers, my friend suggested a bowl of some melted dark chocolate would be a perfect accompaniment to those doughnuts. Me? I found them greasy and boring. Perhaps with the suggested chocolate (or even some syrupy fruit) they would have been passable.
As MSPD suggested in the comments (which I have now moved below this post), I have some hard-to-hear suggestions:
1. If you’re going to call yourselves a seafood restaurant and serve fishy tasting shrimp scampi on one of the first two days you’re open (how could it be any fresher?!), then you have a lot of work to do. Honestly, that’s shit I’d expect at Red Lobster. Speaking of Red Lobster…the Shrimp Platter really had too much breading and too little “fresh” taste for a real seafood restaurant. Fishy shrimp in the scampi is fucking inexcusable–especially when you’ve had two days to actually serve food.
2. You’re a seafood restaurant that uses terms like “dayboat” and “fresh” yet neither the servers nor any signs that I noticed told us where your fish was sourced from. I want to know where you got that Ahi Tuna from and what day it was delivered and I’m sure I’m not alone.
3. The service, while excusable since it was the test run, was a bit overbearing. We felt like they were on top of us at all times and were clearing plates and cups a little too often. Some people don’t want to feel rushed when they eat and that definitely makes you feel like it’s time to get a move on. I don’t know if this was opening jitters and inexperience of the staff but it needs to be corrected before Friday.
Overall, I enjoyed my night out with friends. The meals were acceptable but certainly nothing special. I have plans to return to have some oysters and peel and eat shrimp at the bar but I really don’t see any reason to return for the other dishes we had tonight and I believe that everyone in my party agreed with my assessment there.
Have you ever eaten at Molly Cool’s or Stella’s Fish Cafe? If so, what did you think? Do you agree with my assessment of their food? Perhaps you had a different experience entirely? Perhaps you think I’ve been a bit too hard on them considering it was the preview and I didn’t even pay for my meal. Whatever you have to say about my experience tonight at Molly Cool’s Seafood Tavern in Lakeville, go ahead and comment on as I’d love to hear what you have to say!
Molly Cool’s Seafood Tavern
17516 Dodd Blvd
Lakeville, MN 55044
See all the pictures from Molly Cool’s Seafood Tavern in Lakeville on Flickr here.