Out of the Bleu Week



Last night, my pal/foodie comrade Stacey Greenberg and I enjoyed a tasting of the new menu at Bleu Restaurant and Lounge in the downtown Westin Hotel. I won't mince words: We gorged ourselves.

The evening began with some signature cocktails, including the sweet and tangy Blueberry Lemon Drop (like the traditional lemon drop but with fresh muddled blueberries thrown in the mix). Then, Chef Robbie Cirillo started churning out tasting plates:

There was the hummus trio with edamame ginger hummus, roasted red pepper and chickpea hummus, and black bean and grilled jalapeño hummus, served with fried wontons. Then char-grilled oysters with jalapeno butter and parmesan cheese. Then tender, flavorful bulgogi beef wraps with kimchee:
And lobster tempura rolls:

We probably could have stopped there, but there was watermelon salad to be had, garnished with feta, red onions, and drizzled with a mint basil oil and kiwi vinaigrette.


And then the entrees began. Perhaps the most impressive concept of the evening was the dashi, a soup made with snow crab legs, smoked turkey, carrots, mushrooms, noodles, and nori, all topped with an egg. Chef Robbie came to the table to pour the broth over the other ingredients and the result was an eclectic mix of flavors steeped in a rich broth, though it needed a pinch of salt.

The bigger hit of the entrees was Cirillo's play on chicken and waffles, featuring barbecued chicken atop a perfectly savory potato hash with pancetta and set aside fresh jicama slaw.

For dessert, we managed to continue our streak of overindulgence with a sampling of five, count them, FIVE desserts, including a delectable trio of whoopie pies in chocolate peanut butter, watermelon kiwi, and raspberry mint chocolate.

We also sampled a chocolate trifle, a mini lemon ice box pie, and flan served atop a strawberry shortcake and topped with fresh strawberries and mint syrup. Finally, Cirillo had us sample some of his mochi, a traditional Japanese rice cake that Stacey informs me is very difficult to make. (She added that Cirillo's mochi was exceptional, not a sticky mess like some batches she's tried to make at home.)

Though we practically had to be rolled out of the restaurant, we agreed the meal was an impressive showcase of Cirillo's talents and his creative spirit. If you haven't made it to Bleu yet, don't pass it by. And if you have been there, now is the time for a return visit.

Bleu, 221 S. Third, 334-5950, www.downtownbleu.com

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