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The tide has turned

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By Katie Thomas Explore Big Sky Contributor

BOZEMAN – Did you know that Santa Fe Reds downtown is no longer? Not many people do, it seems. In what appears to be a new norm for the Bozeman area, there’s been minimal advertising for SFR’s replacement. And what a change it is, from Mexican cuisine to seafood. Hello, Fin on Main!

Open since late November, Fin is an upscale yet casual restaurant, featuring seafood as well as locally sourced meats and organic vegetables. Since then, the menu has grown, and its options have become more extensive as more seafood choices have become available.

Fin’s is a modern aesthetic, with a see-through wine display rack as the central feature. Gone are Santa Fe Reds’ garish lights and wall of water centerpiece; now the space is more welcoming and cozy with soft lighting, stone walls and cushy, high-top booths. Expect to be serenaded by Billie Holiday and the like, while you take in the old-timey, black-and-white photos adorning the walls.

Fin showed our party wonderful service. A friendly and efficient hostess greeted us promptly, and our server brought us menus, water and a basket of warm baguette with olive oil and vinegar as soon as we sat down. She took our drink order (the St. 75 – a pink twist on a Greyhound – and Moscow Mule), and was attentive, helpful and polite.

Having checked the concern of service off the list, we could now focus on the food. Starters (calamari, seared New York strip, tuna tartar, diver scallops, chicken satay), salads (Caesar, spinach, wedge), specials (fresh oysters flown in from Thailand) and entrees (seafood, pork, chicken, steak, vegetables) were all calling my name.

On par for a restaurant of this scale, the prices ranged from $18 (vegetable ragoût) to $38 (grass-fed rib eye). The current seafood entrees include yelloweye rockfish, salmon, ahi tuna, the exotic langoustine with white wine and kale, and the one I chose – the cioppino.

But first we had to have an appetizer. We sampled the seared New York strip with Thai cucumber salad ($11). The latter element delivered a tangy, sharp flavor thanks to the rice vinegar and shallots, and the steak was tasty if you like cold, extremely rare beef. As a recovering vegetarian, I let my companion finish this off while I continued to enjoy the bread and olive oil.

Then came the entrées: the cioppino ($28) is a divine seafood stew of shrimp, salmon, mussels, clams, and tuna in a broth of fennel, onion, garlic, basil, and tomato (also a good dipping sauce for the aforementioned bread, and particularly enjoyable with the Malbec).

My other half chose the vegetable ragoût. This roasted root vegetable dish is heaven: carrots, red and gold beets, leeks, garlic cloves in a stock reduction with herbs and organic polenta, all of which take the taste buds to the best of autumn harvest flavors. In the end, we were then forced to share – I couldn’t decide which entrée I liked better.

We didn’t save room for dessert, but it is, of course, available. With so many choices, all foodies must give this new place a try. Fin on Main is located at 211 E. Main Street in Bozeman; hours are 5 p.m. to close, Tuesday through Sunday. For more information or to make a reservation, call (406) 586-0483.

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