Friday, July 20, 2012

Bluebeard

As a resident of Fletcher Place and an advisory board member for the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, I was doubly excited to see a new restaurant called Bluebeard (after the Vonnegut novel of the same name) open last month just a couple of blocks from my house. Because Bluebeard bills itself as serving "Italian-inspired cuisine," I was a little afraid it would be a redundant addition to a neighborhood that already has two Italian places—Iaria's and The Milano Inn. Thankfully, Bluebeard is not your typical Italian restaurant. You won't find pasta in heavy red sauce here; instead, the restaurant prides itself on serving innovative, contemporary fine dining.

Bluebeard has three distinct seating areas: an outdoor patio (which, fortunately, is on the shady side of the building), a front dining room, and a back bar. The building also houses a commercial bakery called Amelia's, so all the bread is freshly baked. You can even buy Amelia’s bread at the counter in Bluebeard's front room to take home.

My friends and I chose to sit in the bar, which features huge, industrial-style windows, exposed I-beams, and handmade wood tables. (We sat at a table designed for five made from the fork of tree.) Book shelves line the walls, nestling machinery, typewriters, and classic novels. The bar itself (which serves 10 kinds of draft beers, about half of which come from local breweries) is furnished with mismatched, vintage stools.

The food is served family-style in the center of the table, so our server advised us to order a snack or two, a charcuterie plate, a cheese plate, a couple of salads, and a few mains (which come in small, medium, and large). I liked this set-up because it allowed me to try a wide variety of dishes. As snacks, for example, we ordered some house bread (accompanied by whipped lardo, anchovy butter, and roasted garlic oil) and radishes covered with butter and sea salt. The bread was good, especially with the bacon-y lardo on top. The radishes were fine, but they were just as advertised; it’s hard to get too excited about buttered radishes.

For the cheese course (which also came with some bread, an assortment of preserves, and pickled watermelon) we chose the truffled quark, marinated mozzarella, and fleur de terre. The fleur de terre was my favorite then the marinated mozzarella. I was not a huge fan of the quark, which was just too soft for me. We all enjoyed the cheese plate, although it definitely could have used more bread to go with it; we ended up eating quite a bit of cheese on its own.

Next came the salads. We tried the tomato and peach panzanella (with mozzarella, basil, balsamic and herb oil) and the greek beet salad (with green beans, cucumbers, lettuce, feta, and tzatziki). Both were delicious, fresh and refreshing. I preferred the tomato and peach one, which I could have ordered just for myself as eaten as my meal.

We only ordered one small dish—the beef tongue and cheese pappardelle. I liked this one a lot! The beef was super-tender and the sauce was yummy. We got two medium dishes, the white pizza (with braised lamb, kale, oregano, roasted garlic, goat cheese, and arugula) and the roasted bone marrow (with grated tomato, radishes, arugula, capers, and parmesan). The pizza was nice, although I don't think I'd get it again because it just wasn't that exciting. I mean, it was a pizza. The bone marrow looked rather unappetizing, but tasted good. As expected, it came still inside the bones. After you shoved it out of the bone, it looked sort of like meat Jell-O and tasted like the fattiest part of a ribeye steak. (That's a good thing, by the way.) As our large dish, we tried the grilled filet of snapper with ratatouille and fennel tapenade. I'm not a big fish guy, but the snapper was tasty. None of the desserts really appealed to us (plus, we were full), although I was intrigued by the sweet corn ice cream.

Eating at Bluebeard is definitely an experience, not a quick meal. Come expecting to stay for two to three hours. We went on a Monday, and it got surprisingly busy around 7:00. Our server seemed a little overworked as the evening wore on, forgetting some of our items and promising to bring the drink menu but then never returning. It's a new place, though, still finding its feet, so those kinds of slip-ups are to be expected.

As for the price, it was fairly reasonable for a fine-dining place. The total bill for 5 of us to eat dinner was around $200. Looking back over my thoughts, it doesn't sound like I loved the place. I suppose that's true, but I definitely did enjoy my dinner. The menu is interesting and I intend to go back, so that says something.

Bluebeard on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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