The alfresco season officially starts at Black & Blue Seafood Chophouse, a restaurant built for ... More »
The alfresco season officially starts at Black & Blue Seafood Chophouse, a restaurant built for year-round revels.
Dining outdoors here affords you a modest view: another shopping center. And it's actually the interior of the place that sets the mood. But Huntington's latest winner is a refreshing addition, wherever you're seated and whenever you eat.
Chef Steven Del Lima specializes in grass-fed Argentine beef and splashy seafood, as the establishment's unwieldy name suggests. His approach is creative and sharp in risk-averse times.
Black & Blue takes over the former site of Off the Wall. Del Lima recently starred a few blocks south at Wild Fin, the departed New American spot remembered for his talents and its theatrical layout.
Del Lima's new dining room has the dark-hued look of a stylized supper club, or some other kitschy den of temptation, with its undulating banquettes, subdued lighting and mixed-up music. The biggest burst of color comes from the tropical fish in a big, illuminated saltwater tank.
And from Del Lima's cooking.
You can go land-and-sea immediately with a well-seasoned tartare duo: Argentine tenderloin spiked with mustard and horseradish aioli, ahi tuna with minced ginger and orange-soy mayo. He also fashions a surf-turf negimaki, filling a roll of tenderloin with crabmeat and asparagus.
The casually carnivorous are lured by an opener of Kobe-beef sliders, mini-cheeseburgers on brioche rolls, with housemade pickles and crisp fries -- a threesome that could double as a main course. There's seaside competition from the just-as-meaty crab cake, finished with Thai-basil pesto aioli.
Del Lima offers a full-flavored, coral-hued lobster bisque, turned a little wacky with crunchy, caramel-popcorn "croutons," and a "slow-roasted campfire" onion soup gratinee, further sweetened with Madeira.
When the juicy shell steak arrives, it's espresso-rubbed, paired with asparagus tempura and enoki mushrooms. And tender filet mignon materializes wrapped in jalapeÃ±o-seasoned bacon, accompanied by fingerling potatoes with Gorgonzola and roasted eggplant-tomato jam. Both recommended.
The Frenched chicken breast sports a sourdough-pretzel crust, mustard-tomato-and-leek risotto, and a warm alliance of arugula and fennel. One of the few dishes where the orchestrations don't work: the stuffed pork chop, packed with tasso ham, fontina cheese and spinach, and still dry.
Snowy, moist cedar-plank roasted Pacific halibut is presented on a wood board. But the lobster/home-fries union with it is overdone. Seared ahi tuna, with pineapple relish and pink ginger, has some spark. But you'll be tempted more by the bamboo-steamed Florida red snapper.
Autumnal appetites may veer toward the chocolate fondue. But, in the weekend twilight, a summer fruit tart and toasted almond gelato are the ideal finales.
Reviewed by Peter M. Gianotti, 5/25/08.