Courtsey Blu the Restaurant
Hamachi pastrami from the new menu.
Save for a few weeks of take-out service, Blu in Beachwood
has been closed since the start of the pandemic. Instead of sulk, owner Brad Friedlander used the downtime to reinvent the restaurant. When it reopens on Wednesday, April 28, it will do so in name only. Diners can look forward to a new chef, a new menu and a fresh look.
“We're opening a new restaurant with the same name,” says executive chef Brian Moses. “The entire menu is new, except for the Moxie burger, which we wanted to keep for nostalgia.”
Prior to moving to Cleveland, Moses was working as chef de cuisine at Launderette, a James Beard Award-nominated restaurant in his former hometown of Austin, Texas. Other notable work stints include Olive & June, also in Austin, and Thomas Keller's Bouchon in Napa.
Moses and his wife, who has family in the area, were looking to relocate to a city with a better quality of life and access to the outdoors, he explains.
“We were looking for a change of pace,” says the chef. “Austin was getting too pricy and not our scene anymore. In the process of looking at Cleveland, I found the opportunity here at Blu with Brad.”
Since accepting the position, Moses has worked with Friedlander and sous chef Janie Duke to develop a completely new menu. The result, says Moses, is a more contemporary take on an upscale seafood restaurant.
“It's been a team effort working through the food, trying things out,” he says. “I know what good food is and how to make it, but in terms of being specific to Cleveland has been a collaboration.”
As a result of that collaboration, diners can look forward to playful dishes like crab cake-stuffed pierogis gilded with potato butter sauce and hamachi pastrami, brined and cold-smoked hamachi served on pumpernickel with caraway aioli and brussels and apple slaw.
Those dishes join a more flexible menu with sections for raw bar items, small plates, large plates and additions. Classic raw bar items like oysters, shrimp cocktails and seafood towers will still be available, albeit in slightly different form. There will be more sushi and crudo dishes as well.
In the kitchen, Moses had a new grill and flattop installed – he is from Texas, after all – which will allow him to prepare dishes that previously were unworkable. Those include grilled half chickens, steak frites, and grilled boneless branzino with red chimichurri sauce.
During the closure, the restaurant received an interior freshening up and the recently expanded patio now boasts new awnings to fend off the sun.
“I think we're hitting the timing perfectly," adds Moses. “A lot of people are being vaccinated, things are opening up more, it's summertime.”
And that’s not the end of the good news. In the former Red and Rossi space next door, which currently and for the next few weeks is home to Mar Mar's Pizza Kitchen
, there will be something new brewing.
“We have a surprise for that space this summer,” teases Moses.