I have long been a fan of Café Blue Classic Seafood & Oyster Bar, the fine seafood restaurant that had its beginnings above a cove near Volente Beach, then moved to more elegant digs at the Galleria at Bee Cave, and has now opened a second location downtown on 2nd St. next to Fleming’s. This review covers the new location.
Since both restaurants serve identical menus except for an occasional special, my mission was not one of discovery but more one of verification. And the downtown location passed the test with flying colors. We wrote about Café Blue’s brother and sister chef team of Chelsea and Cy Buchheister last month and if you visit the downtown location you will find Cy there.
We began, of course, with an order of Blue Point oysters, and they were deliciously chilled with that signature briny flavor that I love. Café Blue’s oyster shucker has got to be one indefatigable dude, because from what I’ve seen, they serve lots of them; from Wellfleets to Malpecs to the aforementioned Blue Points.
Then came what is for me a standard: the New England-style Clam Chowder. Chef Ben Nathan created this dish and it is redolent of his days in Boston: It’s creamy and infused with a delicious hint of bacon along with tender clams and waves of taste. If you love this dish at the Galleria you’ll love it on 2nd St. as well.
The Tenderloin Beef Tips were another treat. The secret to this dish is the blackened style of the tips combined with truffle oil and Parmesan cheese. Add some battered onion strings and a luscious Béarnaise sauce and you have an appetizer that simply works on many flavor levels. Terrific mouth feel!
My wife decided to have the House Salad and since she is not a fan of lettuce she asked if they could do it with spinach. Without a moment’s hesitation, our server J.D. nodded and that was done. I had a taste and really enjoyed the spinach with the cherry tomatoes, red cabbage, and cucumbers. She also changed the dressing from the normal vinaigrette to a ranch and it still worked. Some servers have obvious difficulty when you start changing things of the menu, but our guy’s service was seamless.
We decided to pull another switcheroo and got the Alaskan King Crab legs as an entrée instead of as an appetizer. They were tender and wonderfully prepared. Next to Maine lobster, the King Crab sits atop the shellfish food chain in our book and Café Blue’s version was spot-on. One minor point – I thought the melted butter for dipping could have been, well, more buttery.
I tried the Café Blue classic Redfish Louisiane. I am addicted to this dish and it was spectacular. The redfish is blackened and topped with a Cajun shrimp and crawfish brandy cream sauce that embellishes an already tasty piece of fish. I liked it so well that I got an additional side of the sauce. And the whole ensemble worked, as always.
Not only does Café Blue downtown replicate the Galleria menu, the ambiance is equally subdued and elegant. As you enter, a beautiful horseshoe-shaped bar is to your right. You then walk past an open kitchen and their sterling oyster bar. The dining area catches the reflected shades of subtle blue from the columns adjacent to the kitchen.
Parking can be spotty, but that’s a downtown problem – not a Café Blue problem. And valet is available.
So welcome Café Blue to 2nd St. The last time I really enjoyed dining in that space it was owned by Roy Yamaguchi. No poke this time around but in my opinion, the food is even better.