Friday, October 7, 2011

Blu, Elizabeth on Bay

Blu is the new kid on the block, the hot new dining and drinking spot to see and be seen in downtown Nassau. The Juggernaut and I decided to see what all the fuss was about and go for a quiet weeknight dinner. Greeted by a hostess at the door, we were led through the bar area of Blu, which was largely empty, except for a well-groomed party having a pre dinner aperitif and a smattering of diners. It felt very much like a nightclub with its dark wooden interior, crystal pendants and gleaming granite bar. High-end finishes were everywhere. The Juggernaut described it as ‘global sleek modernism’. Walking out onto the deck, I had a sudden flashback of my visit to Sydney in ‘02. A million dollar view of twinkling cruise ships and yachts bobbing in the evening breeze gave real wow factor. Expensive looking parasols and trendy rattan furniture furnished the deck. The owner, Bryn, came over and gave us a tour of the premises, proudly showing us round the upstairs lounge areas and private dining room. His mission was to create a restaurant that was miles away from the cheesy haunts that dominated the island’s waterfront. He wanted to make people feel they were no longer in Nassau and without doubt he has definitely succeeded. Although there are nods to Bahamian style, in the woven ceiling fans and palms, you could be anywhere. The setting really is breathtaking. Hats off to him for choice of location. I can foresee many a marriage proposal taking place on its deck. We sat down and studied the menu. A cross section of Mediterranean dishes with a few Moroccan ones thrown in. There was paella, seafood risotto, beef tenderloin with greek potato, duck confit. The Juggernaut and I were ravenous and tucked into the bread with relish. A basket of foccacia with flavoured dipping oils of paprika, arugula, chilli and incredible balsamic vinegar, it was a promising start. We ordered a bottle of French Pinot noir, easy drinking table plonk. Ahhhhhh. We shared the Bunuelos de Bacalao ($14); salt cod and potato cakes, a dish originating in Catalunya, Spain, where my father is from. I was understandably dubious of ordering these. It came on a chic rectangular plate, drenched in a pepperonata sauce. The cod cakes were crispy and succulent, nicely made. I felt the sauce let the dish down; it was overpowering and almost suffocated the fish. I think some allioli would have been a better choice of sauce here. Clearing our plates, the waiter asked if we needed any extra silver ware, which we clearly did. Meanwhile, our main courses arrived. My wild mushroom ravioli with cognac cream sauce ($32) was placed before me. The divine scent wafted teasingly up to my nose. J’s slow cooked lamb tagine with couscous sat patiently awaiting cutlery. We were left salivating for a few moments before we could attack our food. Expertly cooked, homemade pasta, with a woody, pungent flavour. The taste of autumn. J had the Lamb shank tagine ($38). A hearty hunk of lamb coated in a deep, rich sauce, full of the joys of Morrocco. Soft meat fell off the bone. A man’s dish. We had a bit of a pause before attempting dessert. The options included a selection of cheeses with mango compote and foccacia chips ($15), a warm chocolate fondant cake with chocolate chilli gelato ($12). We went for the trio of desserts; a tasting plate of tiramisu, chocolate and amaretto cheesecake, both presented in shot glasses and a baklava. It looked pretty enough. There were dots of raspberry coulis artfully placed in the middle of the plate with a mint leaf, such a classic dessert garnish. The tiramisu was a bit sickly for me, bland. The cheesecake had no texture. What is the point of a cheesecake with no crunch? Bah! The baklava was a bit sad; dry and crumbly. It was an anticlimax after the success of the previous course.A sting in the tail was when the bill arrived, charging $6 for a single espresso. Really? Ouch. All in all, there were some flashes of brilliance in this snazzy establishment. The service was very attentive and aimed to please. There are many dishes I’d like to sample here. I bet they make a mean cocktail too. I hope it does well. I’ll be back.