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Hotels cast wider net — Restaurants step up fish selections

By Holly Ebel

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN  

Fish lovers, cast your lines in the direction of the Kahler and Marriott hotels in downtown Rochester.

The Lord Essex Restaurant in the Kahler and the Oak Room at the Marriot have stepped up their fish selections to include a wide variety beyond such local favorites as sea bass, halibut and salmon.

According to Mark Burt, executive chef at the Lord Essex, the fish selections, added in early autumn, have been enthusiastically received by customers.

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"We are at the point where we are having to order at least three shipments a week," Burt says.

Diners have their choice of how the fish is prepared — broiled, fried, grilled or poached — as well as a choice of sauces, including lemon butter sauce, roasted red pepper sauce, avocado relish and mango relish. All are made in-house.

These past weeks, Burt has been concentrating on fish from Hawaiian waters.

"We’ve had mahi-mahi, opah, monchong, sunfish, a variety of snapper (red, blue) as well as shark, barracuda and kampachi," he says. "What we offer depends in large part on what is available."

Adds Omar Feyen, who heads up the Oak Room across the street: "We have really kicked up what we offer for fish both at lunch and dinner, probably selling more of it during lunch which is our busiest time. We have always known that people who come here for medical reasons want fish, and we are accommodating that."

Feyen works with a fish monger who knows what’s available. "I can buy off the dock, the boat or the warehouse but mostly I buy off the boat," he says.

In recent weeks Feyen has been featuring poki, which has turned into a very popular selection.

"This is such a flavorful fish," he says. "When I cook it, I poach it in olive oil for about 12 minutes. It is delicious and diners have been raving about it."

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Burt pointed out the health benefits of fish, which are low in fat and high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Holly Ebel of Rochester is a freelance writer.

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