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Blu - review

jacinthe | Jan 31, 2004 08:11 AM

It wasn't our first choice. However, horrible traffic and a late start meant that my friend and I got into Boston later than we had expected. We aimed for 6, so that we could have a leisurely dinner at Teatro before catching the flamenco show at the Cutler Majestic Theatre. Since we didn't get the car parked until 7 - well, Teatro was out. In the lobby of the theatre, I frantically called Apollo Grill, but the number listed in my Palm Pilot was wrong, darnit! "If we have to, we can grab dinner at the New York Pizza across the street," my friend said. "No, no, no, something will work out," I replied. Scrolling through the restaurant listings in my Palm by proximity to theatre, the first to grab my eye was Blu. Normally, I am leery of eating in hotel bars, let's not even talk about restaurants located in workout places (as Blu is at the Sports Club LA), but we were pressed for time, and someone had mentioned in a post that it was possible to eat at the bar. So I called. The hostess at the other end was extremely accomodating, and when we explained our situation, that we just wanted a quick bite, she said that she'd reserve a table in the bar for us. So off we scuttled, in the bitter cold (and past a very crowded Teatro), over to the restaurant.

When we got there, the same hostess greeted us with a big smile and told us that she would make sure that we would get out in time to catch our flamenco show. Unfortunately, two very rude guys had ignored the reserved sign on our table, hiding it underneath their seats, and we had to wait for a couple of minutes before the very apologetic hostess secured us two seats at the bar. While we waited, she handed us a couple of menus and said that she had told the waiter that we were pressed for time.

The bartender, poor girl, she was working by herself when usually two staff the bar, greeted us and told us that she knew of our time constraints and would work with us. The bar menu is short, but it all looks amazing. There are about 4 salads, 2 seafood dishes, and about 6-7 entrees, consisting mainly of pasta, although there was an appealing calimari dish and also a beef carpaccio. While I was tempted by the gnocchi served over a duck ragu, the bartender told us that it was a very small portion, and that I would be better off with the spaghetti, which was my second choice. But it wasn't just plain spaghetti. It was a very prettily presented dish of handmade spaghetti, with a light lemony cream sauce, caramelised endive, small sheets of cheese (gruyere-ish, I can't exactly remember), breadcrumbs sprinkled all over. It had a very nice mouthfeel, the breadcrumbs in crunchy contrast to the smooth, slippery pasta. It wasn't overly tart, there was just the mildest hint of lemon which was nicely offset with the sweet endive. My friend ordered the whole wheat cavatelli with clams and sausage (I didn't really pay attention to the specifics of her dish). I speared a bite of her pasta, and it was tasty indeed. Her only issue with the dish were that the clams were itty bitty and she couldn't really find them. Portions were perfect for a quick meal. Just enough to fill the stomach.

What is amazing is that they got us in and out of there in 35 minutes, without us feeling rushed in the least. Watching the bartender, she was amazingly efficient, carrying on conversations with staff and patrons alike. The only (minor) problem I had was I saw the waiter take a seemingly unused lemon wedge that was perched on the edge of a used martini glass and place it on a new one, and then proceeded to pour the new drink into it and serve it. Perhaps the lemon belonged to the same person, I don't know. But even if it did, it was an icky move.

I think the bill came to around $50 before tip (I'm not sure, I didn't see it) for two entrees and a glass of wine and a martini. I'd return, because the food was good but also because I was truly impressed by the service we experienced. The friendly hostess seemed like she really cared, and that it was going to be her number one mission of the moment to have us experience a good meal given the short amount of time we had. But she was not ingratiating, which I hate. I sincerely hope that we didn't just hit them on a lucky night, and that they're always this gracious.

On a side note: the flamenco was fabulous. There are two more performances, not by the Compania Andaluza de Danza, which we saw, but by Ballet Flamenco Sara Baras, sold out Saturday night but there are apparently still tickets available for the matinee on Sunday. (You'll get out with over an hour to spare before the Super Bowl, we were informed.) Also, Paco de Lucia is performing at the Orpheum on Valentine's Day. He is a big name among flamenco guitarists. If only I were in town! Tickets are still available for this performance as well.

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