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Aug 11, 2007

Blu Seafood and Bar

                                             Calamari at Blu Seafood and Bar

Taking cues from Kevin and Toastie, I trotted over to Durham's Blu Seafood and Bar for dinner with a friend.

I'll write about the food in a moment, but I want to start with the service.  What I liked best about Blu is not that their service is particularly smooth or competent (sometimes it was neither) but rather that the staff treat their customers as people.  All night, I felt more like a dinner guest than one of many customers in a restaurant that needed to keep things moving.

From the bartender who interrupted his appetizer prep to get me a Diet Coke, to the numerous staff who struggled to hold the patio-door open every time I walked through (hint: you really can't do a smooth job holding a door when you're standing on the side near the hinge.  You need to be by the door handle, or else you're going to be in the way -- it's a fact of life) to the server who mispronounced two of the seafood items, to the manager who took care of our problem dish -- every person looked me in the eye, listened, and made me feel like they really wanted to make sure I had what I needed -- no matter how much time or trouble it would take.  That's a nice way for a restaurant to be.  I hope they stick with it, and I hope it helps turn Blu into a successful business.

That said, let's talk about the food.  Here is what we tried:

*  Fried calamari with lemon mayo ($9)
*  Mixed lettuce salad with lemon vinaigrette ($5.50)
*  Mutton bass and vegetables (this was one of their specials for the day) ($22)
*  Pan-roasted trout with preserved lemon vinaigrette ($17)
*  "Blu" berry cobbler with Maple View ice cream. ($6, I think)

My brief take on the food?  Pretty good.  Some items great.  Some not.  A decent price-to-value ratio.  And I suspect that they'll continue improving as they find their groove.  I particularly look forward to returning for dessert -- they have a fun sweets menu that looks like an excellent end-of-evening activity.  Dark chocolate fondue for two, anyone?  Anyone?  Call me.  We're there. 

But back to the dinner report:

The calamari deserves praise for two things: (a) a very tender texture* (the most tender I've  had in decades of calamari eating) and (b) an appealing and atypical cornmeal breading.  Like Kelly at the Durham Foodie, I would have enjoyed a more interesting lemon mayonnaise; but on the other hand, a less interesting sauce lets me pay more attention to the calamari.  This is not a bad tradeoff when the calamari is good.

The mutton snapper came with an excellent mix of vegetables.  Unfortunately, it also came way overcooked so we sent it back.  Instead of asking for a re-do, we changed our request to the pan-roasted trout.  That was a great idea.

The trout was pan-roasted to a very nice crisp and was combined with a little bit of vegetables in vinaigrette, plus a line of very tasty, tube-squeezed mashed potatoes.  The two-fillet serving was generous but the whole dish wasn't "too much" because they kept the vegetables and potatoes in rightly small portions.

For dessert we were treated to a "Blu Berry" cobbler -- sent over, I presume (they didn't make a fuss), because of the little mishap with the mutton snapper.  It was a nice little cobbler, easy on the sugar, which always makes me happy.

A nice visit -- I'll be back. 


*no easy trick, as noted by Kelly at Durham Foodie.

Also: for those who are wondering about decor/construction.  Blu has enclosed some of the former Grasshopper patio, but there is still some open-air seating.

Blu Seafood and Bar
2002 Hillsborough Rd.
Durham NC 27705

12:34 AM in Reviews | Permalink


I ate at Blu recently and had a chocolate cobbler for dessert. Yum!

Posted by: Elizabeth T. | Sep 9, 2007 7:28:32 AM