I’ve been to Blue Velvet twice in the past two years, and each time I’ve had a solid dining experience. And to clarify, solid, in my book, is positive. I liked the market driven menu, fun cocktails, and an alleged rooftop veggie and herb garden. I went back to BV the other night with a friend and we both had this totally weird dining experience.
We entered the somewhat out of the way restaurant and stood for a minute or so by the host stand- there was no host. The sole waiter in the restaurant apparently served as the host as well and he sat us at a two top. The restaurant was empty save for 3 other tables. Next, we approached the menu, but before I could even read what was printed, I noticed the cheap blue paper (probably from Staples) on which it was printed. “Weird” I thought. On to the menu: all I can say is that there was a Cobb salad listed as an entrée, at that point I started thinking, “am I getting punked?” My accomplice had the exact same reaction, and things did not improve when we tried to first, order a cocktail, but apparently they no longer have a cocktail menu, or fresh juices behind the bar, just your generic bar stuff. So, we tried to order wine. Apparently, BV no longer sells bottles of wine, only wine by that glass. The waiter recommended a Beaujolais, so I gave it a shot, but it was terribly boring and I wasn’t a fan. I stuck with the glass for fear that, if this was considered one of their better wines, it could only go downhill from there. Yikes!
I was very nervous about the food. Really, I was. Our meal kicked off with the Thai snapper served atop crisp asparagus with juicy grapefruit wedges and thin multi-colored rounds of radish, all lightly flavored with a tangy, black bean vinaigrette. In addition to the very pretty and delicate presentation of the dish, it tasted great. The snapper was fresh, no fishiness detected (fishy fish happens to be my worst nightmare), the acidity in the grapefruit cut through unctuousness of the snapper, and the asparagus and radish added a nice hint of crispness. I loved the black bean vinaigrette that boasted a hint of sweetness paired with the earthy flavor of the black beans, and created a harmonious dish from the snapper to the veggies.
I contently sailed onto dish number two which was a daily special; pistachio falafel with a fig and balsamic reduction, eggplant puree, and pickled onion. I was totally into the concept of the pistachio falafel, and I happen to be a falafel lover, but I was disappointed when I dove in. I didn’t get much, if any, pistachio flavor, and while the outside was nicely crisped, the inside was more like a Spanish croquette, sort of soft and mushy, and even a bit gluey. The eggplant puree had no taste, though the fig and balsamic reduction was quite tasty.
On to round three: probably one of my most favorite foods is pasta. I like to make it at home (and I am not talking about the dry stuff, I’m talking about home made pasta with a pasta maker), I like to eat it in restaurants, I simply love pasta. We were served a single house made acorn squash ravioli (it was quite big in the realm of ravioli, maybe 2 ½-iches in diameter) with sage breadcrumbs, shiitake mushrooms, and Brussels sprouts, drizzled with a buttery sauce and pumpkin seed oil. The ravioli skin was appropriately delicate, and the acorn squash interior was slightly sweet, but not overpoweringly cloying the way pumpkin and squash pasta items can sometimes be. The Brussels sprouts were sautéed and tender, and the breadcrumbs beneath the ravioli added a nice textural crunch.
After three light-ish courses, I was ready for some umph. Next came a nicely-sized (not too big, not too small) piece of filet mignon with young picked ramps, shiitake mushies, and fingerling potatoes. The steak was a touch overcooked for my taste (I like my meat on the rare side) but I loved the tangy picked ramps, the earthiness from the shiitake, and the buttery potatoes.
At this point in the meal, I was feeling much better about the overall dining experience. I started feeling bad about the restaurant because my friend and I started pondering whether the restaurant was perhaps on…deathwatch? As we pondered, along came dessert; basil ice cream served atop a thin panna cotta round with passion fruit coulis, and a cluster of blackberries. The panna cotta tasted like refrigerator, like when you put something in the fridge for a few weeks and don’t cover it properly and it starts tasting like fridge. The basil ice cream, on the other hand, was creamy, and basil-y, just how I like it. I also dug the sour passion fruit coulis that was jam-packed with passion fruit flavor.
The experience as a whole ended on a positive note, but was also strange all around. With dessert I was served a glass of 10-year tawny port, and when my friend asked for a glass, the waiter told us it was their last glass and he had to divide it between the two of us- and he did. We thought that was weird, no more port? Apparently….not.