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Oct 12, 2006 02:38 PM

Blue Coral NB -REVIEW (long)

Went last night with a party of four to check out Blue Coral Seafood and Spirits in Fashion Island. Walking in, I was impressed with the room's decor. It has a good mix of booths and tables, and the lighting was perfect, setting a nice ambiance without being too formal. We were promptly seated an a booth and I had a great view of the spectacular blue wall of vodka by the bar. Looking around the room, I noticed it was pretty busy for a Wednesday night, with a good mixed crowd of young and older professionals, with a few couples on dates.

We were served water, with our choice of lemon or lime slices, and a basket of seriously addicting biscuits. I thought having biscuits in the bread basket was a great change of pace and a curve ball for a place that doesnt bill itself as a southern style restaurant. The biscuits were soft and crumbly and tasted very good. Definately homemade. We went through about 3 baskets of these.

The menu contains lots of tempting choices with several cold apps, hot apps and about a dozen main courses. The wine and cocktails menu is even longer, with a huge list of vodkas, cocktails and wine. (We opted for a bottle of J Pinot)

For my appetizer I got the yellowtail crudo, served with a bloodorange vinaigrette and sliced jalepenos (a la matsuhisa). Very good quality fish, and the bloodorange somehow didnt overwealm the fish. I appreciated how they gave me chopsticks for the appetizer so that I wouldnt be eating the think slices of fish with a big metal fork. I also got a bite of another person's app which was that night's special- "Seared Albacore Medallions with Ponzu sauce" These were several 2 inch chunks of fish seared on both sides (maybe cooked a little too much) and drizzled with a delicate ponzu sauce. Even though the fish was cooked to medium, it remained very tender and flavorful.

Although the menu has several different fish prepared in a particular way, the menu offers diners the flexibility to have any of the fish prepared in any style. I opted for the tuna prepared as suggested in the menu (grilled with a tomato tapanade). For sides the table got the apples and cheese slaw and grilled asparagus.

My fish was perfectly cooked and very flavorful. The tomato tapanade was more of a simple tomato salad, and though very light and refreshing, I wish they were a little more generous with the portion. The apple slaw was a hit at the table. The tangy diced apples played very well against the good quality blue cheese. The grilled asparagus had a nice char, giving them a good smoky taste.

Others at the table ordered the seabass (one grilled and one baked in parchment). The last person ordered the highly recommended Lobster en fuego which was dramatically presented in the shell and on top of a large pile of homemade chips. Though I didnt get a taste (it was a business dinner), I was definately eyeing it for a future visit. The lobster huge and was practically bursting at the seams from its stuffing and the homemade chips looked like the real deal.

Since we were all stuffed, we skipped dessert but they looked like they had the usual suspects on the menu.

Overall, service was very professional. The biscuit basket was refilled several times and our wine glasses and water glasses never went empty. I was very impressed with our server who was very patient with one person in our party who asked about nearly every item on the menu. Total damage with tip was about $420.

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  1. Thanks for the review! How does it compare to Mastro's Ocean Club, Wildfish, and King's Fish?

    1 Reply
    1. re: elmomonster

      For the money, I prefered Blue Coral to Wildfish. I was in no hurry to return to Wildfish after dropping nearly $300 on an so-so meal for two ( we had two bottles of good wine). But I thought the service, food and ambiance were better at Blue Coral. Also, everything on the menu at Blue Coral looked tempting, while the menu at Wildfish was very conservative and typical. If you look at the apps and salads at Blue Coral, I think you are likely to see several items that catch your eye, while at Wildfish, I had a hard time finding something that sounding worth getting.

      I've never had seafood at mastros b/c I just love their steaks so much. But Mastro's is really in a different playing field than places like Blue Coral.

      I look forward to reading a review from you on Blue Coral

    2. We will be going Saturday night. Only one person in our group does not like fish...but we'll see how the "land" choices go. Also....I don't care how full I am..I'll suffer lol and try the dessert. You helped me make a choice..because we have reservations at Ambrosia as well. It sounds like Blue coral should be our choice. I heard they have a new chef at Ambrosia and not sure if we want to try that out at this time.
      Great review..thanks.

      2 Replies
        1. re: Pinkwasabi

          Looking forward to hear about your exeperience. If it was as good as mine, I may have a new "regular" for dining out.

        2. Just ate there last night. Was my second visit. Had a great experience. Can't say enough nice things about the staff, incredibly friendly and accommodating without the usual air of pretense so typical of such restaurants, especially here in OC.

          But the food. And the drinks!

          New favorite drink: Pineapple mojitos. Chunks of pineapples mashed with mint into the cocktail.

          Biscuits: Couldn't get enough, especially with that whipped honey butter.

          Appetizers: Baked goat cheese served warm and gooey with bread crisps and marinated grape tomatoes. So good. Also the best blue crab cake we've ever had. Tuna carpaccio -- made much more interesting with a sprinkling of capers.

          Entree: Chilean sea bass baked in parchment in a tomato broth and julienned veggies. Fish was cooked to perfection and the flavor was subtle and didn't overpower the fish. Also had the lobster mac n' cheese. Tasted like lobster bisque with pasta.

          Dessert: Strawberry shortcake, made with those ridiculous biscuits and whipped cream. So good.

          Never been a big fan of anything Fashion Island, in terms of dining, but Blue Coral has changed my mind. Service is awesome and the staff just has an overall great attitude. Did I mention their amazing drinks?

          1. Went to Blue Coral on Saturday night. Our waiter was very good and explained in details on everything we asked.

            We started with the biscuits and I was really looking forward to them being a carb addict and all. I was disappointed on them...they were cold, crunchy, and just okay. I've had better but I still ate them...I wished they were warm and soft and didn't even realize that was honey butter.

            We ordered wine and a martini...the Blueberry Drop was poured in the tallest martini glass ever. It was very good and refreshing...but...not very much vodka.

            We started with the Yellowtail Crudo...excellent. The flavors were so fresh and it had a slight bite to it...we would definitely order that again. The fish was FRESH! and loved the blood orange vinaigrette ...I ordered the Maine Lobster our friends ordered the Caesar. They liked it.

            Because we couldn't take our eyes off the Lobster en Fuego at the other tables, three of us ordered it. Since I don't like really spicy dishes, they did tone it down for me. This dish was so delicious and generous in their portions. The potato chips were a nice change. The other dish was Shrimp Scampi and he enjoyed it as well.

            Our side dishes were the Fuji Apple and Blue Cheese Slaw....LOVED it. Trying to find the recipe. My husband had three helpings and I really liked the flavors...not overwhelming and it really stood out. The French fries were good.

            The disappointment lied in the desserts. Our waiter tried to steer us away from the Apple wise and honest man. Though the crust was excellent...the apple part tasted like baked apple sauce and it lost the texture and the taste in my opinion. The Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Torte...another disappointment. It didn't wow me and we didn't ooohhh and aahhhh but rather! Again...lost the flavor and didn't translate well in the end.

            I think that Blue Coral do their fish very well...but need to work on those desserts. The other thing is with ordering side dishes, wine, martinis..the tables were not big enough and very crowded but again, that might just be us.

            We would go again....and that other choice...Ambrosia. We're going to try that one soon. Would love to hear what is good.