A Bedeviled Dinner and Great Desserts in Canton
This location is closed
It was a rough night for Blu when we visited. This new restaurant has taken over the space abandoned by Mangia Mangia, on the corner of Luzerne Avenue and Hudson Street in Canton. And if you went looking for the exact line that divides trendy Canton and old Canton, you might find it here.
Maybe it's Blu's location that's responsible for what felt to us like a serious identity crisis. The voguishly phonetic name and the supersleek logo suggest a modern, lounge atmosphere, and the interior actually does show aspects of this aesthetic--blue halogen lighting, stylish banquettes and bar stools--but the tables and the artwork on the walls are conservative, institutional. The adjacent bar manages to accommodate both an oxygen station--the latest thing--and a poker machine. The effect of this uncertain design scheme was that we all lost a little bit of confidence in Blu right from the start. We felt adrift, wondering whether there was going to be a sure, steady hand at the helm.
Possibly the menu at Blu is in transition. There were about as many entrées on the specials menu--from which came all of our entrées--as on the regular menu, and Blu, presumably, is trying to sort out which items to add to the permanent roster. We wouldn't recommend adding any of the entrées we tried.
Was this an "off night"? I believe it may have been. Blu appeared to have been overwhelmed by more diners than were expected, arriving in too-rapid succession (although, truthfully, the dining room was never more than half-full). Another sign of trouble: The owner, we were told, went to help out in the kitchen, which was having a world of trouble getting food out to our table.
Two appetizers, chosen from the regular menu, were very good, in particular a serving of bruschetta ($5) topped with a tasty olive tapenade, made from quality black and green olives. We thought the crab-and-artichoke dip ($8) was commendable, too. It arrived hot, baked to a golden sheen, and this nearly ubiquitous combination suddenly made sense again--crabmeat does taste good mixed with artichoke. It was then, at about the time a party of eight arrived (unexpectedly?), that things went south.
Those entrées we didn't like included the grilled marlin tropical ($13), grilled fish du jour (we got tuna) salad Thai style ($9), bacon-wrapped scallops ($16), and mango-grilled shrimp salad ($9). Briefly, the marlin, which was supposed to be marinated in coconut milk, might have been any kind of fish (or chicken, or pork); it had only the scarcest coconut flavor and was tough. The grilled tuna was tough, too, and also flavorless, and the Thai dressing tasted to my companion of nothing but brownness. Appearing underneath the bacon-wrapped scallops (both bacon and scallops overcooked) was an unappetizing, watery red liquid, which we were told was a raspberry vinaigrette. Only the shrimp arrived in decent shape, but they bore little evidence of having been "brushed with mango bbq sauce." There was little redeeming about either the accompanying vegetables (broccoli, overcooked on one plate, nearly raw on another), starches (gummy rice), or salad greens. Our meal was very disappointing; I believe Blu can do much better than they did on our visit.
Also new, and nearby, is Dangerously Delicious Pies (2400 Fleet St.,  522-7437), a pie shop/coffeehouse. It's swell. The shop retails the pies that former Glenmont Popes frontman Rodney Henry has been supplying to local restaurants, and which he frequently brought along on the Popes' extensive tours. Whole pies sell for $15 and $18, and there are a few tables set up inside and on the sidewalk for enjoying a slice ($3.25) on the spot.
The pies are baked on the premises with fresh fruit, and the results are laudably good. Henry tends not to overstuff or otherwise overdo things--there's nothing revolutionary or gimmicky going on here--and when he explains how he learned pie-making when on summer visits to his grandmother in Indianapolis, it all makes perfect sense. Pie slices are served on tea saucers with plastic forks, Henry plays good music, and, on some Saturdays, people gather to play and listen to music. None of this is cute or, even worse, funky.
It's always time for pie: firstname.lastname@example.org.