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Blu Seafood and Bar, Durham, Reviews & Discussion

I know there's another thread somewhat dedicated to Blu, but here's my attempt to start a more comprehensive one. As a recap this restaurant is in the old Grasshopper space, next to Vin Rouge but is no longer associated with GHG.

Just thought I'd chime in and say I had some surprisingly good oysters at Blu yesterday. Like, I was pleasantly surprised when I took down the first and thoroughly satisfied by the last. At $2.50/piece that's getting up there, especially for the area and the space, but at least they were tasty. The shucking skill was marginal, a bit flinty, but, again, the quality was there.

My smoked salmon sandwich was pretty good, but it seemed like the salmon had been placed on the the bread with, as opposed to against, the grain of the fish. This made it difficult to bite through in one go. A minor quibble, but I enjoyed the fish and would've enjoyed the whole plate more if it had been more intelligently constructed.

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  1. I've had a couple of nice lunches there. Most recently I had the fish and chips-- really nicely cooked tilapia; although I'd prefer to have real fries instead of the homemade potato chips that they're serving. Not to knock the potato chips at all, just wishing they were different for that dish. I'm gonna try it for dinner soon, I think... menu looks good. I think it's cool that they are staying true to what they are instead of trying to overdo it.

    1. I know it's supposedly based on like Floridian/Gulf of Mexico seafood, but I'd like to see an expanded raw bar, lobster rolls, fried clam bellies, and other Northeastern seafood shack favorites. Then again, that's what I know. I also think they definitely need a ceviche, as it would certainly fit the theme regardless.

      1 Reply
      1. re: BryanZ

        I'd like to see that New England side of things too, especially since they try to make somewhat of a foray into that area with their lobster roll and clam chowder. Being a former NE'er myself, I'd love to see some good execution of dishes like that down here; calabash only cuts it so far!

      2. The conch ceviche I had back in July was wonderful. My date's clams were pretty great, too, but I was happy to stick to my conch. No entree experience yet, but I'm more than willing.

        1. As a native Floridian (having spent the first 18 years of my life there) and avid seafood lover, I can wholehartedly vouch for Blu being a wonderful addition to our seafood restaurant scene here in the Triangle, based on my impressions at lunch today. Having experienced literally every single coastal seafood restaurant between Pensacola and Panacea, FL, I can confidently say that this place has simply prepared, absolutely fresh, and ultimately tasty North Florida-style fried seafood down pat. You can really tell that this chef put those years in FL to good use.

          Before shying away from the concept of fried seafood, know that Blu's style (and its popular incarnation in FL) features very lightly battered seafood, where the batter itself is not the main show, but instead serves as a vehicle to lock the natural juices and flavors in. For lunch, I ordered the beer-battered fish and chips ($8.75), which presented as an extraordinarily generous-sized fried filet of tilapia. The batter was light and crisp, and the fish meat itself was melt-in-your-mouth tender, juicy, and clearly very fresh (no fishy smell whatsoever). With this simple style of preparation, where you don't douse the fish in a bunch of sauce to cover up its shortcomings, there's little room for unfreshness. The filet was paired with a great homemade tartar sauce, homemade potato chips (which honestly I didn't feel added much to the dish), and pretty good cole slaw (tasted very different from the cole slaw one eats with pork BBQ, but works very well considering its pairing with seafood).

          I also did order an appetizer of clam chowder ($5.00), which came in a large bowl (I was expecting a cup). It wasn't creamy clam chowder, but instead was the thinner-borth variety. Eh, it was okay - I think this dish is just a shout-out to the Yankees in the region; I myself will stick to the FL-inspired dishes in the future, as this is where the chef clearly excels.

          So just looking down the lunch menu, I'll input some of my FL expertise to say that the fried calamari ($8.95), caesar salad with fried oysters ($9.50). oyster po boy ($9.00), and fish sandwich ($9.00) are other items on the lunch menu that should be winners.

          I really liked the atmosphere of the place too - nice blues-inspired music on the surround sound, indoor palm shrubs by the windows, and clean lines and nice blue hues. Definitely reminds me of those shack-cum-hip-seafood-houses down in the FL Keys.

          My main disappointment was seeing not many customers in there at 1 p.m. Yankee population aside up in these parts, I think everyone should give this place a try and take the leap of faith on the fried dishes. It's a lot healthier than Calabash-fried. This is the first inland seafood restaurant I've found in NC that I will frequent regularly.

          1 Reply
          1. re: mikeh

            I've had their oyster po' boy. It's okay but not very generously proportioned. You get a much more substantial po' boy at Fishmongers-- and at a lower price. I actually prefer Fishmongers to Blu for lunch but a couple of experiences where the food took forever to arrive keeps me from returning to Fishmongers.

          2. Went to dinner at Blu last night and had a great experience. Atmosphere and service fine and the food was wonderful. They were offering a wine special where you got (3) 2.5oz pours of sauvignon blanc from Napa, New Zealand, and South Africa for $10 which complimented the cuisine beautifully. We started with a yellowtail/vegetable tartare served stacked with seasoned crisp flatbread crackers and a Sriracha aioli. Also 6 excellent malpeque oysters accompanied by mignonette and cocktail sauces ($2/each). My wife chose the salad of greens tossed with apples, carmelized onions, and bacon along with a crabcake appetizer for her dinner. The crabcakes were almost all crab and had a tabasco aioli alongside. We are huge crabcake enthusiasts and these passed with flying colors. I had the whole fish which was pompano cooked perfectly with a citrus/red onion topping. The mashed potatoes and spinach side dishes were delicious as well. We were very satisfied at this point and skipped dessert but they said they are working on offering a key lime pie. Cost: about $92pre-tip. Totally worth it. For a casual but upscale seafood dining experience I highly recommend it.

            10 Replies
            1. re: PeterB

              Nice to see that they cut oyster prices if what you report is in fact accurate. I may stop by tonight.

              1. re: BryanZ

                Maybe it depends on the oyster. Or the day of the week. In any case the pricing last night for the malpeques was $2/each with a minimum of 3 per order.

                1. re: BryanZ

                  Here's the skinny from Blu:
                  Peter,
                  The oysters vary according to type and any specials that our purveyors might provide. Occasionally, Chef Tim can get Kumamoto oysters flown in from Japan, and those will of course cost more. We make a special effort to bring in fresh and hard-to-get products and sometimes we are given a discount and we will of course pass that discount on to our guests. When Bryan Z came in, he had Naked Roys oysters (from Naked Roy's beach in Oregon) and those will always cost more than most others. Tonight we served Beausoliels. I believe you would love them.

                  1. re: PeterB

                    The Naked Roys were awesome. I think I've had the Beausoliels. And don't get me wrong, I think the oysters are certainly worth the price.

                    1. re: PeterB

                      beausoleils are freakin awesome... really little, but packed with great clean flavor.

                        1. re: seymourglass

                          The management of Blu. I filled out a feedback card after my recent dinner there and they sent an email thanking me and offering additional info about events there. Since the oyster pricing issue was active on this thread I used that email discussion as a way to clarify their pricing. Again, added value and excellent service.

                      1. re: PeterB

                        On your collective advice, went to Blu for lunch today. No calamari at all. No oysters at all. Sigh. Left for Taqueria Lopez, but will try again.

                        1. re: walras

                          We were there last saturday night for dinner... actually it started as drinks and oysters at the bar and became dinner. Anyway the very nice bartender stated they get oysters in every day, all different varieties... so maybe if the shipment was late they wouldn't have any. The oysters we had were really nice, briney and sweet but a little on the small side. I think they were 2.00 a piece. We also had a very nice citrus marinated salmon appetizer with advocado that was quite good.

                    2. re: PeterB

                      We had an anniversary (31) dinner there Tuesday night, and I promised my spouse that I would only pass along our impressions of this restaurant by word of mouth so we can still get in for 32. Therefore, I have nothing to say. Well, oh, heck!--the key lime pie actually was made with key limes. Even if it's been 45 years since you've experienced it, you remember key lime.