Blue Inc. Gets Stamp of Approval

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Posted April 7, 2014 by Cheryl Fenton in Dining Downtown: Restaurant Reviews
Blue Inc. Restaurant

I want to have a relationship with chef Jason Santos. Don’t get on the phone with my husband—I don’t mean that kind of relationship. I mean, after hearing all the hubbub around the Hub, I want to get to know this superstar chef. With his bright blue hair, whimsical culinary uses for liquid nitrogen, and mad scientist rep in the kitchen, how could I not be intrigued? I mean, he’s already come into my house—well, I watched him go fork-to-fork with Gordon Ramsay’s terrifyingly biting British nature on Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen.

So, off to Blue Inc. Restaurant I went. Santos’ place on Boston’s Greenway (he’s at Abby Lane in the Theater District, too) seemed the perfect place for an introduction to his food.

Walking in the door, my first thought was, “Where’s the rest?” This big-name chef sure has a tiny eatery. After a few minutes of settling in and fighting back claustrophobia, I replaced “tiny” with “cozy” and came to love it—especially since the night we chose was another one with flurries of snow. The restaurant’s design is gorgeous and lively, with tiny stripes, distressed white wooden planks, and a giant mirror working that “hang a mirror to make a room look bigger” concept. White lights hang from chandeliers and around the mirror, track lighting brightens the bar, and the orange swivel bar chairs brighten my day. Not to mention there’s a giant photo of a surprised-looking Twiggy hanging on the wall!

I started off with an Anorexic Model, a craft cocktail of Pierre Ferrand cognac, lychee, bubbles, elderflower, twiggy, and berries that came out smoking. My next visit, I have every intention of ordering the Angry Tomato, gazpacho-infused Russian Standard vodka and a double-secret créole bloody recipe. Finally, there’s someone who understands that I still want a Bloody Mary even when it isn’t Sunday brunch.

While looking over our menu, we were brought homemade pretzel rolls with mustard seed butter. A word to the hungry—if you eat as many of these as you want, you will not have room for dinner. These rolls were out of this world, with just the right amount of warm and tasty dough inside and sea salt crystals on the outside.

Santos is known for curveballs, and he throws you a subtle one on the table with white pepper and black sea salt. It’s a nice touch.

salt cod croquettes

Salt cod croquettes. Photo Credit: Cheryl Fenton

To start, I had the salt cod croquettes. Served with a soft cooked egg, they didn’t have as much salt cod flavor as I would have liked, but the broccoli puree, black garlic, and candied lemon stepped up to the plate with a ton of flavor where the croquettes were lacking. My dinner companion chose the famous calamari “spaghetti,” a bowl of calamari rings with a tasty pastrami bolognese and a side of incredible garlic toast. I wanted to switch. He wouldn’t let me. Jerk.

When it was time for the main course, we decided to see what all the fuss was about. That meant diving into dishes for which Santos is known, such as his southern-style fried chicken and the duck confit.

First off, what’s fried chicken without waffles? Santos is clearly in tune with this important pairing, so he includes pepper jack waffles in the dish (they resembled mini Eggos). The chicken itself is sweet and coupled with smoked maple caramel and an arugula, bacon and poached pear salad. This was a major hit at the table.

The honey- and hoisin-glazed duck confit with sweet sticky rice, mango, cashews, and coconut milk is another signature dish at Blue Inc. Restaurant. Santos has called it “cry-yourself-to-sleep good,” and once I wiped the tears away, I agreed. It was just the right blend of sweetness and tang.

Now came the entire reason I was in this place—to order a liquid nitrogen caramel corn milkshake. I wasn’t disappointed. There’s no wonder, our server explained to us, that the lunch crowd sometimes comes in just for these. No words can describe how tasty this dessert is, so I’m not even going to try. Let’s just say I was lamenting our decision to have it split between us.

Overall, Blue Inc. has my stamp of approval. You might even say it’s stamped in blue ink.

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