Monday, June 14, 2010
Blue Water Grill, 5180 Northland NE - 6/9/10
This is part of the Gilmore Collection and one of our favorite locations; great architecture with low horizontal lines and open interiors, and it’s on a lake (ok, it’s man-made but it’s still water). The two-story restaurant has an upper level bar and dining room - both with surrounding windows - and an outdoor patio. The lower level is open air with tables under an overhang, a bar screened from direct sun by a protective ceiling, and some waterside seating under the sun.
Service has been great every time we’ve been here and today was no exception; the entire staff is friendly and helpful. The menu is creative and buttressed by what is locally produced. Last year they planted a small garden on their property but were foiled by tomato blight. This year they’ve expanded the garden all along their lake front and moved the tomato plants to a new site. Peppers, lettuce, basil, and much more will be served up fresh this summer.
Last time we were here we settled for the lower level patio but today we waited for about ten minutes to get a table on the upper level patio. The one open lakeside table was umbrella-less so we took one three back that gave us a little protection on this hot day. The patio is narrow with tables almost single file heading back away from the lake. Along side these tables are about three more, in a second row. And that was a problem.
The rows are too close together, particularly when a large group of just-out-of-school teachers took up two tables and thought they were free to push back from the table, resulting in their chairs interfering with the narrow walk area. Wait staff continually and dexterously maneuvered around them and the result was a constant “bump” into one of our chairs. Thankfully the school’s-out-for-summer-teachers had finished eating and soon left, packing their liquor with them.
First up: chicken drummets, flash-fried and served with shaved scallions, sweet chili sauce, and wonton chips. This was an excellent concoction and the wontons were probably the best we’ve ever had - lightly deep-fried with just the right balance between chewy and crispy - and the chili sauce made the dish.
The menu does not exactly coincide with the online menu, and there was also a small paper menu on each table with seasonal features: three dishes, two wines, two cocktails, and one beer. We tend to favor features but none of these caught our interest (bruschetta, spinach salad, and morel mushroom pizza). Since morels are not currently in season, we were curious about the pizza. Upon questioning, a server who had stopped by with water thought they were probably from Iowa. Close enough.
We went full bore for our main dishes, Surf and Turf, and New York strip. The surf was a wonderful risotto with bay scallops and mushrooms, and the turf was hanger steak (very interesting offering as there is only one per animal). The risotto was a masterpiece but the steak with red wine reduction did not fare as well. The red wine sauce totally overpowered the otherwise perfectly prepared meat.
The grass fed New York strip was accompanied by grilled shitake mushrooms, potatoes, onions, and peppers, and with the bleu cheese butter was an excellent dish. Both steaks were served medium rare and were well presented.
Our tab was under $50.00 with tip, a lovely breeze rustled the umbrellas, a pontoon boat from one of the lake condos floated by, we sipped our Bloody Marys - yes, this was good.