New Menu Debuts at Todd English’s bluezoo

… and we’re there to taste and explore

We headed over to bluezoo last night to sample from their new menu (yay!). The changes from Chef Bobby, Chef Ryan (this is his first menu as Chef De Cuisine), and the other chefs and cooks at bluezoo are quite extensive… There are 3 new appetizers and 5 new entrees.

Let’s start with what didn’t change on the appetizer side of the menu…

  • bluezoo’s new england style clam chowder
  • yellowfin tuna tartare
  • teppan seared jumbo sea scallops (we call this “scallops and short rib”)
  • low country jumbo shrimp
  • beet salad
  • chilled poached jumbo shrimp
  • “Olive’s” classico flatbread
  • blue raw bar (oysters, key west middleneck clams, other shell fish)
  • raw bar selection platter
Olive's Flatbread - this flatbread doesn't contain olives, it is named for Todd English's restaurant "Olive's"

Olive’s Flatbread – this flatbread doesn’t contain olives, it is named for Todd English’s restaurant “Olive’s”

We’re particularly fond of the teppan seared jumbo sea scallops, the low country jumbo shrimp, the beet salad, and the blue raw bar.

Short Rib and Scallop Appetizer  - very yummy

Short Rib and Scallop Appetizer – very yummy

So what left the appetizer side of the menu? Three items that we really enjoyed…

  • scallops cerviche (but with the other scallops, the menu seems more balanced now)
  • arctic char (this was a new fish for us, we found it to be delightful)
  • hearts of romaine
Hearts of Romaine Salad (it's a take on the classic caesar salad, but better)

hearts of romaine (what we’re really going to miss is the act (anchovies, capers, garlic) and the perfectly poached egg hiding in a brioche ring under the romaine

They were replaced with three new items (and we tried them all last night!)

  • cobia crudo
  • bib salad
  • heritage pork belly

Joseph was taking care of us (as he often does) and he knows that we just like to take our time between dishes. We started with a Boulevardier for Nick (Thank you Monique, you have them down pat now!) and I had another “One Night in Mexico” (I enjoyed it so much last week, and it’s a slow sipping drink for me)

One Night in Mexico

One Night in Mexico – Nora’s new icy favorite (not my only favorite!)

Chef Ryan (@r_ratino) came out to say hello and ask us what we were interested in, we said that we wanted to have the pork belly for sure! He told us that he was really pleased with the cobia crudo and if we didn’t mind, he’d send it out to us first.

The pork belly comes from a special local producer who breeds mangalista and berkshire pigs to get a good blend of fat (mangalista) and meat (berkshire). Chef Ryan said that this pork was very, very good. He also suggested that we come back and try a new porky item on the bar menu (that’s on our plans for Monday night! so more coming from us in a few days!)

bluezoo debuts new menu 20 Sept 2013 - 11

cobia crudo… grapefruit, pickled onion, coconut sorbet (also contains a grapefruit oil and tiny baby mint sprigs)

We must admit that our first taste was a bit tentative (we didn’t combine all of the elements into one bite, we omitted the coconut sorbet… don’t repeat our mistake!) At first, I really loved the pickled onion (I haven’t met anything pickled that I didn’t like) and Nick thought it might be too much. On our second bites, we added the coconut sorbet… it’s really needed to balance the high brightness of the pickled onion. We suggest that you get some of the creamy coconut sorbet in every bite, this dish really shines when you get a little of everything.

After our first bites, sans sorbet

After our first bites, sans sorbet

End result: nice brightness from the pickled onions and the grapefruit balanced with nice creaminess from the sorbet and the clean flavors of the cobia.

Chef Ryan came out after each dish from the new menu to ask us what we thought, etc… This was really appreciated. His energy and enthusiasm for the new items is infectious. At one point, he brought out Sous Chef Jean to meet us (Jean has been at bluezoo for a little more than a year). I’m going to take a break from the “food chat” to say that we’ve been very impressed and pleased with the team at bluezoo. Other than the infrequent episode of getting a server who we just don’t jive with (not that there’s anything wrong with such a server, just that they don’t “mesh” well with US), the experience at bluezoo is always delightful and makes us want to return.

After we were done with the cobia crudo, Joseph put in our second round of appetizers: bib salad and pork belly. We asked that he hold the bread service for a bit longer (so that we didn’t fill up on the parmesan rosemary lavosh, the ciabatta, or the onion bread – my favorite!). While we were waiting, Nick asked me if he had to share the pork belly. :O On a previous dinner at bluezoo, about a year ago, I THOUGHT we were sharing starters, so I ate half of my beet salad and waited and watched Nick devour his kale and shrimp salad. After a bit, I whispered to him “are you going to leave me any of that? I kept half the beet salad for you.” Big-eyed, he said “Oh! I didn’t know we were sharing and this is really fantastic, I don’t like beets as much as you do.” ha ha ha! So now, we’re sure to clear it if we’re sharing with each other <grin>.

Bib Salad @bluezoo Sep 20 2013

bib salad… bacon vinaigrette, figs, pistachio butter (also pork skins, bacon powder, cheese)

I really liked the figs on this dish. They were sweet and juicy and they did a good job cutting some of the saltiness of the cheese on the top of the salad. Again, like the first dish, I really liked it more when I took the time to combine a little of everything in each bite. Oh yes, the dressing was very light (much appreciated in a salad course). Nick agreed that it’s much better when you get a bit of everything. He probably won’t be ordering it regularly, two reasons: he REALLY liked the hearts of romaine with acg and we eat salad 4 or 5 times a week at home and don’t often order it when going out.

Pork Belly @bluezoo Sep 20 2013

heritage pork belly… brussels sprouts, sweet potato, pecan powder

 Nick started with the pork belly… his first exclamation was “brussels sprouts!”

bluezoo debuts new menu 20 Sept 2013 - 12

Here you can see the layers of pork fat and pork flesh, the sweet potato is a foam, and the white sprinkles are pecan powder

He said that the pecan powder was fantastic, that it added so much. Then he said that these were the best brussels sprouts he’s ever had in a restaurant, that they tasted like mine. He also asked if I wanted any brussels sprouts because he’d gladly eat them all if I didn’t! The pork belly just melted in my mouth, Nick was right those brussels sprouts were fantastic (I’d eat a whole plate of them! We told Chef Ryan, and whoever else stopped by to say hello, that these should be a standard side-dish at bluezoo). Oh my goodness, this is a delicious, perfect dish for autumn and winter.

bluezoo debuts new menu 20 Sept 2013 - 01

New Appetizer section of the menu (sorry, it got water dropped on it before we could squirrel it away)

Next, we moved on to a somewhat new favorite of ours, oysters. We asked Joseph to recommend a beer to go with them (something we recently discovered on a business trip, we really like beer with raw oysters). We had chosen 2 each of the Wianno from Massachusetts and the Swanasequots from Virginia. Joseph suggested a new beer “Chouffe Houblon Dobbelen IPA Tripel” – he assured us that it wasn’t what we think of as an IPA (which we don’t care for and turns out he doesn’t either). We asked to split the bottle and we asked for the bread service.

details: a unique marriage between the english tradition of IPAs, the new american revolution of imperial IPAs and the classic belgian way of brewing [ABV: 9%, IBUs: 59]

details: a unique marriage between the english tradition of IPAs, the new american revolution of imperial IPAs and the classic belgian way of brewing [ABV: 9%, IBUs: 59]

The nose (without food) was yeasty and fruity. The taste (without food) was “Belgian IPA, but of course”. It paired beautifully with our oysters. I tried plain horseradish and a drop of sriracha on my oysters, heavenly!

The Wainnos from Massachusetts, were a bit bigger and meatier, just the right amount of brininess for our tastes. And the Virginia oysters were saltier than the Massachusetts ones, they had a really nice texture but they were a bit small and less meaty.

Oysters @bluezoo Sep 20 2013

These are the Wianno from Massachusetts.

By now, we’d ordered our entree… But I’m sure you want to know about changes to the entree menu!

The mainstays that make bluezoo what it is stayed of course…

  • simply fish (changes regularly) and it’s sauces remain the same
  • chef’s pasta (also changes regularly)
  • chef’s creation (again, varies normally)
  • dancing fish remains with slight changes to the preparation)
  • two pound “cantonese” lobster (we’ve never tried this!)

Two other items remain from the previous menu incarnations (in fact, I suspect they’ve been on the menu for quite a while because I remember seeing them a few years ago)…

  • dirty south swordfish (we’ve never had this and one of the guests we’ve brought to bluezoo have ordered it, he thought it was wonderful)
  • miso glazed mero (I have had this and so have many of our guests to bluezoo, it’s a quite rich fish)

So what went away?

  • florida flounder (never got around to trying it)
  • char-grilled chicken (we just don’t order chicken at bluezoo)
  • beef tenderloin (we rarely order beef, unless it’s short rib or it’s the chef’s special)
  • pork collar (well received dish on previous visits)
  • tuna di calabria (we liked this somewhat, but it wasn’t a homerun for us)

And what’s new?

  • braised white bean cassoulet (we had this last week with our Alaskan Halibut, very good) – vegan
  • tasmanian salmon (this was almost our dinner)
  • organic “young” chicken (this was strongly advocated by a number of the bluezoo team)
  • wagyu beef tri-tip (we had this a few weeks ago when it was the chef’s special)
  • ahi tuna (that was our dinner!)

So, we split the ahi tuna. Again we asked Joseph for a recommendation, wine pairing this time. He was kind enough to split a glass of Baby Blue between us. We both really detected cabernet overtones in the nose. Without food, I thought it was drying and fruity and Nick said he probably wouldn’t drink it alone but he liked it with food.

bluezoo debuts new menu 20 Sept 2013 - 15

Cabernet blend, light red, Alexander Valley, CA. 2011 Vintage. Cabernet Sauvignon 61%, Merlot 14%, Malbec 8%, Petitie Verdot 7%, Cabernet Franc 5%, and Syrah 5%

We have two photos for the ahi tuna entree… neither of us got a really good photo. Nick’s photo has really good color and mine is bit more in focus.

bluezoo debuts new menu 20 Sept 2013 - 16

ahi tuna, creamed bacon & leek (underneath), crispy potato pave, and pumpkin seed vinaigrette

Nick’s first comment “the potato pave is breakfast potatoes at dinner.” We both detected some sort of animal fat in those potatoes, and let me tell you, it was very tasty! I enjoyed the pumpkin seed and radish salad very much, it would make another very unique, albeit small, side dish offering. Oh yes! We both thought that the tuna was great. We ordered it rare, it came rare, and just right for sushi grade tuna. The mouth feel was full and meaty, I wrote in a tweet “tuna, the other red meat”.

bluezoo debuts new menu 20 Sept 2013 - 05

New entree portion of the menu

Overall, we’d give the MEAL very high marks. For us, it was a large meal (in fact, we doubted the wisdom of even ordering an entree)… however, we didn’t feel stuffed after we left. Joseph and the team made sure that the pacing was just as we wanted. Gary, Chef Ryan, the other serving staff, and the bartenders were all wonderful.

The items from the new menu (thus far) seem to be good revisions or substitutions of what bluezoo had to offer previously (although we’d love to see lamb on the menu more often!)

There are some slight price increases over the previous menu (I checked online). Saying that, the prices are well within prices for Disney World Fine Dining (in fact, bluezoo is a better value because the food is just so damned much better) AND the prices are within what we find when we travel. The food at bluezoo is well worth the dollars and the calories!

Thank you!

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