Restaurant Review: Blu
Two Chefs, Riv Vu, Brand–New, Wow
A culinary tour de force
Two Chefs, Riv Vu, Brand–New, Wow
Most any day, the setting is a hard act to follow: the Palisades cliffs slicing the Hudson, tugs heaving barges through frothy wakes. One recent Friday, Mother Nature really turned it on: lightning strobes fissured the sky, thunder pealed across indigo clouds. But Blu’s Thomas Beres and Michael Smith don’t easily play second fiddle. They’ve got their own pyrotechnics.
With résumés that boast Manhattan’s Brasserie and neighboring Harvest-on-Hudson, the two chefs recently parked their pans at the space atop the Hudson Valley Tennis Club vacated by Sun, Moon and Spoon. The dusky blue-bronze décor remains, and then there’s that staggering view. Tough competition for most menus—not for Blu’s. It took one perusal of ginger-infused crab cakes and lobster spring rolls for the storm-lashed river to become a blur. Once they arrived, it was a goner. The crab cakes, two crisp golden discs, yielded succulent interiors, their cool tomato-salsa bed and spicy puddles of remoulade exemplars of culinary marriage.
Two lobster spring-roll wedges jousting over a tropical mango-carrot-jicama julienne were almost as blissful. If the mozzarella was the bore in the roasted-tomato salad party, the star was a stream of stellar balsamic vinaigrette.
It was tough for me, an inveterate fish-eater, to bypass the wasabi-cured gravlax for the appetizer special, a balsamic-glazed grilled quail, but I steeled myself and forged ahead. Then when I tasted, all doubt vanished. Oh, the salty crackle of mahogany-grilled skin revealing rich, moist meat. The heap of cool young greens, silky roasted peppers and briny olives drizzled with more of that stellar vinaigrette. It was almost enough to make me swear off fish forever. Wow.
But that pesky “almost” persevered. From the list of entrées, the sesame-glazed salmon beckoned and I obeyed. I shouldn’t have. Not that it was bad—it wasn’t; cooked rare, as requested, and very fresh. It’s just that after bliss, convention is a long, hard fall.
It took the citrus zing of the seafood platter’s ceviche to get me flying again, and the saline rush of its raw shellfish to keep me there. I was back in piscine heaven, a fact made incontrovertible with one bite of the pan-seared pillows of sea scallops. Blu’s wizards had conjured a tour de force of textural contrasts: silky scallops, a frizzle of fried leeks, crisp-tender green beans and a spicy tomato-chipotle pepper coulis.
But somewhere in its pursuit of upscale, Blu lost sight of down-home. The barbecued baby chicken was a pudgy mahogany-glazed specimen lounging against a corn bread pillar, but some of its meat was pink, and all of it was bland. The corn bread was more sugar than corn, and black bean salsa had a stale tinge. A side order of garlicky sautéed spinach was the only redemption.
But the dessert menu promised more wizardry. A Valrhona-induced swoon of molten chocolate-espresso cake was more lava flow than molten ooze, but with chocolate this fine, why quibble? Quibbles are reserved for the Kahlua-infused dark chocolate malted. Tall and frothy, any hint of Kahlua was sabotaged in a Bosco-syrupy assault.
The crispy cheesecake roulade, though, was pure sorcery. A decadent ooze of cream cheese lolled beneath a crackle of golden crêpe. One taste of its caramel sauce and the enchantment was complete. Blu’s spell was undeniable, and hopefully will linger over the good village of Hastings for years to come.
Lunch, Mon. to Fri.
Dinner, Mon. to Thurs. ri. to Sat.