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Blue, Inc.

We ventured over to Blue, Inc. last night to try Jason Santos' new spot on Broad Street. Here are some general thoughts I had:

- The layout is very smart and makes efficient use of that small space. They brought in a quasi celebrity designer to set the place up, so this is expected. There do seem to be things she missed, though. For example, the bar surface is granite but it has a mosaic glass inlay. Unfortunately the inlay is not flush with the granite so you get a surface that's not flat which is going to lead to a lot of spilled drinks.

- The cocktail list is underwhelming. All of the tricks with liquid nitrogen are cool and all, but the drinks should still taste good. We tried 4 cocktails. 2 were a hit (if a little light on the alcohol content), and 2 were misses.

-The food we sampled was quite good, though I do have questions if a menu like that will work in that neighborhood. The house made pretzel bread is a nice touch. The mussels, pizza and burgers from the bar menu all are things that should sell pretty well. I'm not sold on the actual dinner menu.

- I found it odd that Santos himself was not in the kitchen, but overseeing the dining room. I understand that he has to schmooze some of the guests, but I kind of wish he'd drop the "I came in second on Hells Kitchen" schtick, and get back to cooking. If it were me, I would be overseeing every plate that left the kitchen to make sure it was perfect during that first week.

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  1. Thanks for the preview - we are going tonight. The pretzel bread sounds pretty good. :)

    1. Which of those wacky cocktails did you sample?

      1. Thanks for the review. Do you know whether the bar menu offerings are available throughout the restaurant or are restricted to the bar area? Also, what food did you sample?

        1. i expect a chef to ensure that the cooks are doing a good job; that the produce is of high quality; that the service is good; i do not expect him to cook the food.

          3 Replies
          1. re: cambridgedoctpr

            But if he is exclusively in the front of house as mkfisher suggested, how could be possibly ensure that the cooks are doing a good job? There should be a happy medium between schmoozing the customers and overseeing the chefs especially during opening week.

            1. re: cambridgedoctpr

              I think you might be taking my words a little too literally, but I guess I could have been clearer too. As I said, I would expect him to "be overseeing every plate that left the kitchen." I don't actually expect him to be on the line. My point was that we were there for an extended period of time, and I never saw him leave the dining room. As Gordough points out, it's pretty hard to ensure that your cooks are doing a good job when you're not in the kitchen.

              To answer the other questions...
              Food: We had the burger and the mussels. Both were quite good. Really enjoyed the waffle cut fries and house made ketchup that came with the burger. The burger wasn't on the level of some of the better burgers in Boston (Radius, Craigie), but it was at a much lower price point too.
              Drinks: I forget the slightly ridiculous names, but we tried (1) the one with root beer - hard to not like this if you like root beer (2) the drink with strawberries and mint - also enjoyed this (3) the drink special which was more a less margarita with fruit juice - too sweet for me (4) the manhattan with white whiskey - really strong, not balanced, I wouldn't order it again

              1. re: mkfisher

                The burger at Gargoyle's was always one of my favorites- is it the same at his new place?

            2. any comment on desserts?

              1. Nice to see an actual review/commentary as opposed to what's going on on the July openings thread where the restaurant is being talked down and dismissed before any of the posters have gone. Thanks for posting this.

                1 Reply
                1. re: bookgirl

                  I was dismissing the website, not the place itself. It might be great, but my comment was that the website made it seem super douchey and not something I'd want to go to. IOW their advertising sucks.

                2. We went last night, and I was actually quite impressed. Food was quite good (as a party of four we covered a significant portion of the relatively short menu -- pork belly appetizer was a highlight, as were the pretzel rolls, the veal cheeks entree and butterscotch fondant dessert). I found the meu generally appealing and the dishes well-presented. Nice slection of wines by the glass, and while the cocktails sounded silly those we tried were pretty good (Strawberry Fields and Angry Tomato).

                  Staff was very knwoledgeable (and plentiful) and things ran smoothly (especially considering it was the third night open). Everyone was very friendly -- Chef was back and forth between the dining room and the kitchen, so perhaps he took a more active role this time!

                  I too am curious as to how this kind of menu will do in that area, but i'd imagine people said the same thing when Radius opened on High Street. As someone who works in the area, i welcome the addition.

                  High Street Cafe
                  591 High St, Dedham, MA 02026

                  1. 4 of us went on Friday. Here are my thoughts:

                    POOF! A Transparent Manhattan: death’s door white whiskey, bittered orange oil, LN2 cherries - holy cow is this alcoholic.

                    Duck Fat Fries: smoked gouda, fresh rosemary, pink peppercorns - whilst the fries were perfect, the distribution of toppings was uneven.

                    Lobster Tacos: chipotle crema, mango salsa, habañero pipette - neither the pipette nor the crema brought any heat. That said, I do like lobster salad.

                    Mini Kobe Corn Dogs: onion & cheese batter, three condiments - the honey mustard was the most vibrant out of the three condiments. I wished the skin of the dog had more bit - it felt more like eating a beef push up pop than a hotdog. I do like the play on fairground food though.

                    Calamari “Spaghetti”:p astrami bolognese, squid ink puffs, garlic bread puree, salt cod espuma - the puree was superfluous, but otherwise this was the winning dish of the night. I couldn't stop eating it!

                    Hand-Rolled Potato Gnocchi: house made lamb sausage, charred broccoli raab, piquillo peppers, shaved parmesan - the gnocchi were fair and the sausage etc earthy and delicious.

                    Signature Honey & Hoisin Glazed Duck Confit: sweet sticky rice, mango, cashews, coconut milk - his signature dish from Gargoyles, just as competently executed.

                    Boneless Buttermilk Fried Chicken: celery root mousseline, habañero bbq syrup, wilted greens, avocado salad, farmers cheese - mildly disappointing in that the chicken didn't seem to like the mousseline or the salad very much. The greens liked everything, at least.

                    Chevre cheesecake - more like a goat cheese log, but the lemony accents of the dish really pulled it together.

                    What I learned from my first visit there: just like at Gargoyles, I love the appetizers and bar food the best here.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: gini

                      "Calamari “Spaghetti”: pastrami bolognese, squid ink puffs, garlic bread puree, salt cod espuma - the puree was superfluous, but otherwise this was the winning dish of the night. I couldn't stop eating it!"

                      I can't even begin to imagine what this dish even is, it's making my head hurt !

                        1. re: gini

                          I'll definitely order this if I make it to Blue Inc, the curiousity is keelin' me !

                          1. re: Nab

                            i enjoyed the pork belly app, the duck was a bit dry, I would skip the lobster soup next time (which was not a bisque but more of a dark broth). The deconstructed negroni was worth getting just for the campari foam (the liquid nitrogen sweet vermouth was fun to look at but might've tasted better with say Vya or Antica instead of Cinzano imo).

                    2. Another thing I noticed while drinking a beer outside yesterday at The Times across from Blue... the awning for the restaurant reads "Lunch Dinner Drinks", but as far as I know they're not serving lunch? I'm not 100% positive on this, but I believe that's actually the old Lobby awning that they never replaced. For all the money they spent designing that space, it seems odd that didn't get replaced.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: mkfisher

                        Not sure about the awning, but when i ate there the server mentioned they planned to start serving lunch but weren't doing so yet.

                        1. re: jdoc

                          they have started serving lunch. the burger was ok but as mentioned above, not in the same league as some other burgers out there. waffle fries were a bit soggy/soft for my taste, very little crispiness at all actually. tasted the fried chicken but it was drier than i expected, given the price.

                      2. Saw this on Twitter this morning from Andrew Knowlton, the restaurant editor at Bon Appétit. I wonder who he's talking about?

                        @AndrewOKnowlton: Questionable Moments in restaurant PR pitches, vol. 1: " X was the runner up on the last season of "Hell's Kitchen"

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mkfisher

                          I don't know. I utterly loathe Gordon Ramsay's television shows, but I think Santos has milked that appearance to great PR effect.


                        2. I had lunch at Blue Inc today. Everything was relatively enjoyable, and I won't comment on it all, but I do want to mention the highlight of the meal: a side of the gouda-stuffed, black truffle-adorned tater tots. These were insanely good: perfectly seasoned, crunchy on the outside, soft and cheesy on the inside. They would make the perfect late night snack, or, topped with a couple of poached eggs, a fantastic breakfast item. (Alas, Blue Inc doesn't do breakfast or brunch at the moment so that's not an option.) I'll definitely return for a second taste.

                          1. We had dinner for the first time this past Saturday at Blue Inc. - nice service, empty dining room at 6:30p but half full at 7:30p - pricey, quite limited range on the menu.

                            The server who welcomed us was also our waitress and quite attentive and professional with helpful opinions and recommendations when asked. I got a huge kick out of the "Anorexic Model" cocktail that came with liquid nitrogen and the admonishment "not to drink until the model stops smoking" - it was tasty enough as well with bubbly wine, St. Germain, and some citrus juice.

                            My soft shell crab dish ($24 or $25) was enormous and the noodles tasty but a bit too salty with two WAY over-battered but nicely fried crabs. The red snapper entree was tiny at the same price and my wife was happy to help finish the noodles on my plate so as not to go hungry.

                            I like this spot for lunch (and so agree that the tater tots are by far the best menu item!) and creative cocktails, but for dinner it's overpriced and underwhelming to me.