Eatery - Blu Seafood & Bar (NC)

Blu Seafood & Bar - 2002 Hillsborough Rd, Durham, NC 27705
Pricing - $$-$$$ | Dining - Casual to Classy | Cuisine - Mediterranean, Seafood | Reservations - Available

*DISCLAIMER* I went during Triangle Restaurant Week so the pricing was not the same. Listed above is the pricing based off of the regular menu.

Restaurant #3 of TRW for me! This seafood gem in Durham is my favorite so far of the restaurants, and I wanted to just go back for more after we had left the place. Of course, my wallet was unable to comprehend this considering I had dropped nearly $40 on my meal after tax and tip. However, it would have been more had I not gone for the TRW special. If I did ratings on my blog, this would have gotten a 10/10 for the amazing food, great service, and casual-but-classy atmosphere. When we walked in, I noticed how small the establishment was but in a quaint way; I liked the personal feel to the place.

 Let us start with the bread. It was pretty great. The butter pats were separated for us too in manageable and adequate sizes. I was pleased with the bread's fluffy inside and rich taste. Our waitress suggested we get more for our mussels' sauce later and boy was that a great suggestion!

My roommate and I shared our appetizers. The first one on the table was the calamari. The batter was cornmeal, and the pieces were drizzled with smoky chile aioli and topped with a cabbage slaw. The squid was a bit soft, which my roommate liked a lot. I would have preferred a bit more resistance but enjoyed the appetizer anyhow. The aioli really made it special. I have to peg this as one of my top places for calamari now because I enjoyed it so much, and yes, I have had a LOT of calamari at different places.

Now this is going to seem weird but I don't like shellfish or bivalves and yet, Blu happened to turn this appetizer of mussels into my favorite dish of the night. I blame the delicious, lip-smacking sauce. The PEI Mussels with chili and lime came bathing in a tangy, spicy sauce that made everything delectable. The mussels themselves were fantastic and clean. I usually don't like bivalves (or whatever) because the meat is too chewy and saltwater-tasting but these were exceptional. I could have had millions more.

My entree was the Shrimp and Grits. I was a tad wary when ordering this because though I love grits immensely, they do not seem like a classy type of food to have at a nice restaurant. However, Blu did not disappoint me. The grits were rich, thick, and mixed with bits of applewood bacon for a nice smoky taste. The button mushrooms were plentiful and delicious. The whole dish had string beans on top which I appreciated. As for the shrimp, they were quite large and meaty - I would have compared them to being near prawn-like in terms of taste. I liked them and got a good serving of them as well (at least 5?). The sauce was a lemon butter that did not make me feel like I was overindulging myself in butter, so it was a great base.

My roommate got the NC Trout which had a chile-nut pesto, poblano butter, and a sweet potato mash that was reshaped to look like a sweet potato. It was clever! I got to taste a piece and felt that the fish itself was fantastically flaky. However, we both agreed that the sweet potato overpowered the fish's taste if eaten together and that the sauce was a bit lacking. Nevertheless, the excellent preparation of fish made up for the other lacks.

For dessert, she opted for the maple-pecan cheesecake with date compote. I tasted a bit and really liked the interplay between the light cheesecake (it was pleasantly not too heavy) and maple. They complemented each other well.

If the mussels weren't so good, my dessert would have been my favorite part of the meal. The key lime pie with raspberry puree artistically arranged beneath was tastefully tart and in the right proportion for after dinner. I personally love key lime pie, and this piece really hit the spot. I was glad that it was even a choice for TRW. Basically everything that my roommate and I ordered was finished and plates cleaned. Thumbs up Blu for making me actually enjoy a seafood restaurant outing!