Major changes are coming to Saffron Restaurant & Lounge (123 N. 3rd St., Mpls.,

"It's a project that went from, 'Hey, we should get new tables' to 'We're going to have a new restaurant,'" chef/co-owner Sameh Wadi said with a laugh. White tablecloths are out and smaller wood-topped tables are coming in, along with a dramatic Moroccan-inspired wine storage unit, new chandeliers and lanterns and a semi-private dining area.

As for the menu, Wadi is widening his Middle Eastern-North African focus and embracing the flavors and traditions of Spain, Greece, Turkey and Italy. Much of the inspiration is coming from a cookbook that Wadi's parents wrote but never published in the 1980s.

"It's called 'The Encyclopedia of Palestinian Cuisines,' and it's thousands of pages, handwritten by my father," Wadi said. "The more I dug into it, the more I wanted to showcase the recipes my parents were making 25 years ago."

Wadi is ditching 90 percent of his current menu and replacing it with a larger number of moderately priced small-plate options -- chicken-porcini croquettes, green beans slow-cooked in tomatoes, air-dried beef cured with fenugreek and paprika -- plus larger dishes like a duck leg tagine and whole-roasted fish, Greek taverna-style. Also coming: Wadi's fantastic lamb bacon BLT.

"We're going to continue to cook fine-dining food, but we're not going to act like it's fine dining," he said.

The five-year-old restaurant is closing after Saturday's dinner and reopening July 6.

Oceanaire kissing Hyatt goodbye After nearly 13 years deep inside the Hyatt Regency Hotel, the Oceanaire Seafood Room (1300 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., is relocating to 6th Street and Nicollet Mall, in the street-level space that has been home to the M&S Grill (50 S. 6th St.) since 2006.

"We'll be moving in early January," said Oceanaire general manager Rick Kimmes. "We're thinking our last meal is going to be New Year's Eve."

The Oceanaire is the second major restaurant tenant to say farewell to the Hyatt. In 2008, Manny's Steakhouse departed for similar street-level digs at 9th Street and Marquette Avenue S. in the W Hotel.

"Ever since Manny's moved, it's been lonely here," Kimmes said. "Now we'll be going to the heart of the city, where there's plenty of activity, and we're excited about that."

Kimmes noted that, while many details are yet to be ironed out, the restaurant's raw bar will remain a focal point. Lunch service is on the docket for the first time, as is sidewalk seating. A spokesperson for the M&S Grill did not know when the restaurant will be closing.