Whenever my husband asks, “Can I take you out for dinner [tomorrow night]?” a very hasty response of, “Definitely!” shoots out of my mouth before I even have time to decipher what he said. Thus, this was the first thing that came out of his mouth when he got home from work on Thursday night. Date night with him has been something I’ve learned to savor lately in anticipation of our baby’s arrival this November, and the thought of not being able to go out for a long time gives me the chills.
So to add to the thrill of date night on a Friday night, I let him pick the place and keep it a surprise. And I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he had picked Blue Inc., chef/owner Jason Santos‘ new place in Boston’s financial district. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Chef Santos’ fame, he was the runner-up in the 7th season of Gordan Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen” (remember the guy with blue hair? Yup, that’s him!). He was also the former chef over at Gargoyles on the Square in Somerville’s Davis Square. We went to the special viewing party that they held in the Gargoyles parking lot last August to watch the Hell’s Kitchen season finale in anticipation that they would announce Jason as the winner, but alas it was the other chef that won. I guess the best thing for Bostonians is that it meant he would stay here in Massachusetts and eventually open up his own place.
Okay, so on to the main reason why you’re reading this post – to learn more about our dining experience at Blue Inc.! It was pretty muggy outside when we got there around 6:45 pm despite being so close to the water, and luckily they seated us sooner than our 7 pm reservation (gotta love Open Table). We weren’t starving when we first sat down (remember, I had a nice big lunch at Sportello earlier that day too – talk about a glutton!) so he ordered the “Jason’s squeeze of tha week” cocktail, which was made with Sauza (tequila), Grand Marnier, and fresh watermelon so that we could just chill for a little while before ordering. I admit, I took a teeny tiny sip and it was very good. It did not spend much time on the table.
Before I tell you about our entrees, I should mention the little bread rolls that they brought out for us to snack on. They were kind of like pretzel rolls with a nice toasted outside, soft inside, and crunchy sea salt topping. The mustard seed, yogurt and whipped butter spread that they brought out with it was delicious. And I’ll quickly tell you what he got because my entree is going to require a lot of detail and explaining: he had the Brandt Farms grilled New York strip steakwhich was served with heirloom tomatoes, vidalia onions, goat’s milk vinaigrette, and an herb puree. It was so pretty on his plate with all of the vibrant colors, and the meat was cooked perfectly medium-rare as ordered. He let me try a piece from the extreme edge (more cooked) and it had a really nice charred taste to it. Ooh, it really made me wish I could eat a medium-rare steak right now! He had no problem emptying the plate.
Now on to tell you about my entree – the pan seared scallops (don’t they look amazing in this photo?). The dish is generally served with a crispy farm egg, chorizo emulsion, shallot-radish salad, and fresh & freeze dried corn. But after I explained to Stephanie (our awesome waitress that night) that I am allergic to bell peppers and cracked red pepper, she came back from the kitchen to say that they would emit the chorizo emulsion which was no big deal for me. A few minutes later, she came back to ask (on the chef’s behalf) if I could eat cayenne pepper. No. Paprika? No. So then she disappeared to the kitchen again. She came back out and said that the chef wanted to be super careful and plate it up differently from the menu with pureed potatoes, spinach, and tomatoes if that was okay with me. I felt bad letting her know that I am also allergic to tomatoes (remember – we’re still not sure if it’s just cooked tomatoes I can have right now, still haven’t tried uncooked ones yet), but she said that was good to know too. She said that they wanted to bring us out a free little snack for having to wait so long for our entrees, but we told her that it was unnecessary but very sweet of her to offer. (And I know, I should’ve said something about the potatoes but I figured at that point I was probably annoying her/the chef so I would just eat around it.)
A couple of minutes later, she came to our table and said that everything would be all set and that the free little snack they wanted to give us contained tomatoes. No big deal, we thought – again, it was a really kind gesture. I started to feel bad about making the situation seem a lot more complicated than it really needed to be, but she was very patient through our conversations and seemed genuinely concerned that they pay attention to my allergy problems. Our entrees arrived and let’s just say that my empty plate joined my husband’s because everything on it was so delicious. And yes, I couldn’t resist eating about half of the puree myself (lucky hubby got to eat the rest) because it was just so nice and creamy, and went perfectly with the spinach and scallops. Oh and the crispy egg! When I cut down the middle of it all of the beautifully golden, rich yolk oozed out and how could I not mix that up with some of the puree, right?
But let’s talk about scallops for a second. After being a food geek and devoting my TV watching time to Hell’s Kitchen and Master Chef (another Gordan Ramsay program) lately, I think I can safely say that it can be difficult to cook scallops perfectly. (There was one episode on HK where the chef went through about 30 scallops and ruined them all – yikes!) I think it’s also safe to say that it’s easier to screw up scallops and either over or under cook them (I can also say that from my own experience cooking them at home). So when I say that the scallops on my plate that night were pretty close to perfectly cooked, I think you can take my word for it. I would’ve liked a tiny bit more of a crisper sear on the outside but they were still extremely well-seasoned and delicious — I purposely cut them into fours just so I could let the flavor linger as I ate the rest of the dish. There were five big scallops on the plate and it was just the right portion. Everything went so well together (including the frisee garnish – that was yummy too believe it or not) even if my dish wasn’t how it was originally meant to be served as printed on their menu. And I appreciate all of the trouble that they went through to make sure it was something I could safely eat.
[At this point, I would’ve given a shout out to Chef Santos but I don’t think he was the chef in the kitchen that night based on his Facebook posts. I’m pretty sure he was in New York preparing for an airing on the CBS Early Show.]
We were genuinely full after clearing both of our plates and decided that it would be too much more to get dessert so we told the waiter that Stephanie was training that we would pass. I had to take a bathroom break and when I came back we both had a plate of dessert on the table. “What is this?” I asked my husband, and as his hands went up in the air he said, “I guess they wanted to make up for our long wait time so they gave us these.” I was so full but I didn’t want to be rude to reject their nice gesture, so I decided that it really was the baby who wanted this dessert (nice mom-to-be pointing the blame again – I know – terrible) and tried a bite. It was so good. It was their the brown-butter & brandy poached peach clafoutis dessert served with a yuzu curd (I could eat a cup full of this stuff alone), mint gel, almond crumble and brandy & summer peach ice cream. Um, heavenly doesn’t quite justify how delicious this was. “This is the best non-chocolate dessert I’ve ever had,” says my husband. And I totally agree.
Overall, we had a wonderful dining experience at Blue Inc. It’s not an overly huge space which makes the ambiance a little more intimate, and there is a separate bar section (as well as an outdoor patio area) with a different bar menu of goodies (like lobster tacos, duck fat fries, and mini kobe corn dogs). The place totally filled up around 8 pm with what looked like a good mix of locals and tourists (it’s in a great location not too far from the Boston Harbor Hotel, the Intercontinental, and in the financial district). I will have to say that it got quite loud in there so it is not the best place for a quiet, romantic dinner for two if that’s what you’re looking for. The decor is modern yet simple and crisp, and the restaurant has a very nice vibe to it. The hostess was super sweet and again, we couldn’t say enough about how kind and patient the waitstaff was (particularly Stephanie) with all of our questions and with the handling of my food allergy issues.
131 Broad Street
Boston, MA 02110