Blue Water Grill (NYC) – Great Food & Atmosphere

We were looking for a new restaurant for the family to try in the Union Square area and after some research decided on the Blue Water Grill. There were reservations available, the on-line menu contained items that would work for everyone and the interior photos looked like the restaurant offered a high-vibe atmosphere.

The restaurant occupies a building that formerly housed a bank, the first floor is somewhat narrow, with the bar in the front with both stools and tables, a large dining area behind, plus a balcony in the rear that contains 40-50 seats. There is a separate restaurant on the lower level with live jazz, the same menu, and a separate reservation is required. We arrived for our 730 reservation and were asked to give them a few minute since the table was not quite ready. After a five minute wait we were escorted to a great table on the second floor balcony overlooking the first floor, which we preferred since the noise level was more moderate, allowing for conversation.

Our server immediately approached and asked for our water preference and let us get settled in. Upon her return she asked for our wine or cocktail orders and we chose two dirty Tito martinis and a diet Coke.

The menu is very focused on seafood. The entire top half describes raw bar items, plus sushi, sashimi and maki rolls. There is one soup (changes daily), two salads and other small plates, plus about fifteen larger selections, again mainly seafood focused.

I ordered the Mini Fish Tacos with red cabbage slaw and Hass avocado ($12.00) for my appetizer and the Brown Butter Roasted Grouper (the on-line menu states Halibut) with Szechuan peppers, wheat berry, Tuscan kale and chimichurri ($30.00) for my entrée. The three others at the table ordered the Greenmarket Salad, served with caramelized pecans, radishes, green apple, and finished with shallot vinaigrette ($13.00) and for their entrée they each order the Crispy Skin Faroe Island Salmon, with baby bok choy, tatsoi and miso yuzu emulsion ($29.00).

The tacos arrived on a 6-inch square cedar plank, yes they were mini. The tortilla was whole grain with a small piece of fish, avocado, slaw, a thin slice of jalapeño pepper and a sprig of cilantro. There was great flavor in the tacos, the slaw and fish were nicely balanced and the pepper was a complement to the other ingredients. The three salads that my family ordered were large, filled with a plethora of ingredients and they agreed it was a great salad.

The entrées were delicious. The wheat berry salad was blended with a vinegar based sauce, plus a bit of butter, both were delightful complements to the fish. The Tuscan kale was sautéed and was a great addition as well. The biggest drawback to the dish was the fish pieces that were chosen, they were two scraps, instead of a single larger filet. The “fish sticks” were irregular in shape causing areas to be perfectly cooked, while other sections were over cooked. I could not taste any of the Szechuan pepper (this may have been a good thing) and the small dollop of Chimichurri lightly covered one of my fish sticks, and its vinegar could be tasted in the wheat berry. The salmon were each a nice sized filet with the crispy skin as described and my family loved the combination of flavors.

For dessert we shared a Flourless Chocolate Layer Cake with candied kumquats and orange gelato ($11.00). It was excellent, with the addition of some chocolate crunchies throughout and the gelato was incredibly creamy, and mild in its orange flavor, allowing the cake to remain the centerpiece of the dish.

Our server was very friendly, did not rush us during the ordering phase and was very efficient in receiving the orders. Unfortunately, while all of the tables around us received bread, we were never offered bread, and we needed to ask for it after our appetizers were served. More disturbing was the timing of the courses. We were barely finished with the appetizers when the entrees arrived, there was no pause between the courses, plate off, plate on, a major timing mistake by the staff and kitchen.

Overall, the evening at Blue Water was a great time with family and food. The chef combined great, complementary flavors that were delicious. I do resent the pieces of grouper the kitchen selected for my entrée, trimmings should be discarded served in a $30 dish and the lack of downtime between courses, but otherwise, Blue Water was one best evenings in several years.

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