By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Dec 12, 2016 at 12:01 PM

Third Coast Provisions, the much anticipated Downtown seafood restaurant, will open today, Dec. 12, at 5 p.m. at 724 N. Milwaukee St.

The restaurant, which is owned and operated by Merriment Social Chef Andrew Miller, along with partners Cameron Whyte and Samuel Emery, bears little resemblance to the former incarnation of Carnevor, which last occcupied the Milwaukee Street location. Its walls are decorated with mirrors and sea-floor themed art. A large marble-topped bar flanks the southern wall of the restaurant, while similarly constructed four-tops and banquettes litter both the main floor and mezzanine.

It’s a classy space with a contemporarily elegant atmosphere that befits its location. Upbeat house music gives the restaurant a hip, young vibe while a casual upscale menu makes it a great place for a casual dinner or more upscale date night.

And the menu? Upon first glance, we deemed it drool-worthy. And that initial impression seems to ring true. It's chock-full of rich, well-executed seafood dishes, which can be ordered for individual enjoyment or sharing.

On a visit during the restaurant’s soft opening last week, we started off our meal with one of the raw bar offerings: an oyster platter featuring a mix of East and West Coast oysters including Kumamoto, Deer Creek, East Beach Blondes and Island Creek served up with freshly grated horseradish, lemon wedges and cocktail sauce ($21).

Other options include steak tartare with bone marrow, cured egg yolk and fried capers ($15), peel n’ eat shrimp ($17), ceviche ($14) and smoked salmon rillete ($10), along with a chilled seafood platter offering up oysters, ceviche, salmon tartare, shrimp and saltines ($48).

There are chargrilled oysters, priced $21-23, with various accompaniments, including the Milwaukee with pastrami, garlic, shallot and beer.

Shareable small plates include P.E.I. mussels, currently prepared with riesling, curry and calamansi (tropical citrus) butter ($15), fried oysters ($15), shrimp & grits ($14) and lobster mac n’ cheese ($17). But don't miss the blue crab and pimento croquettes, which are inspired by a dip recipe from Whyte's grandmother. They're creamy and delicious on the inside and perfectly crisp on the exterior ($12).

We also shared the lobster potholes, an escargot dish filled with fresh sweet lobster, jumbo lump crab and garlic herb butter ($17).

The potholes come with housemade bread, a delicious brioche hybrid that’s tender and crusty at the same time. But you shouldn’t pass up the Parker House rolls, which come to the table warm with a side of cultured honey butter ($7). They’re a perfect accompaniment for sopping up the buttery garlic sauce.

They’re also a nice accompaniment for the well-executed New England-style clam "chowdah" garnished with crisp bacon and potato chips ($8).

Seafood entrees include composed salmon, whitefish and halibut dishes served with seasonal sides ($22-25). But you can’t go wrong with the whole grilled fish. Ours was a well seasoned grilled red snapper, which made for a great shareable entree. Tip: To strip the filet from a whole fish, start with the tail end, peeling up the skin and then flipping the filet back from the bones.

You can order sea scallops with potato salad and marcona almond-bacon vin ($33), beef tenderloin with delicata squash, farro, pecorino and apple ($35), a smoked oyster mushroom tartine ($18) and Third Coast’s version of Surf & Turf featuring braised shortrib, shrimp fried-spaetzle and chanterelles ($29).

The lobster pot pie features a creamy filling served in a metal pot and topped with fresh lobster and layers upon layers of crisp phyllo dough ($39). It's perfect for sharing among three or four guests. On its own, it would make an ultra-rich entree for a very hungry diner.

Among the desserts created by pastry chef Ariel Welch are a chocolate trifle with milk chocolate pudding, dark chocolate brownie, whipped condensed milk and chocolate chip cookies ($8) and chai creme brulee with sweet potato ganache, white chocolate, rum gelee and coffee shortbread ($8). Key lime cremeux is a refreshing take on the traditional pie, topped with graham cracker crumble, coconut macaroon, mango gel and toasted meringue ($7).

But the moist carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, caramelized pineapple and maple-pecan streusel ($7) is a solid choice for lovers of the classic dessert.

So is the pretzel bread pudding, a playful dessert which captures the flavors of an adult PB&J with concord grape and a bourbon-peanut semifreddo ($8).

An oyster bar on the lower level will accommodate happy hour Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. Specials will include fresh and fried oysters, lobster potholes, oyster shooters and a variety of other snacks and drink specials.

Miller says that po’ boys and lobster rolls will also be available down the road.

Third Coast Provisions will be open Monday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.