David went to high school near Union Square, and from when we first started dating (as college sophomores), he always talked about the nearby Blue Water Grill as his favorite “fancy” restaurant (I remember he used to try to accrue points on a credit card so we could go dine there sometime in the future–adorable). I’d never been, and neither had the both of us together though until last summer when we decided to celebrate his birthday there. It’s the first of a trio of seafood restaurants/bars owned by Stephen Hanson (the Atlantic Grill is on the Upper East Side and the recently closed Ocean Grill on the Upper West Side).
It was a gorgeous warm, clear night when we arrived, so we decided to eat outside on a tiny sliver a of patio that ran along a side street (far above) with views of Union Square. The inside was not exactly our type of scene–very noisy (they have live Jazz at times) and crowded. The building is actually a converted bank directly on Union Square, so the architecture and furnishing were very interesting. After bread and drinks (David got beer on tap, I had a “Blackberry Rum Runner”– Bacardi, blackberry, ginger, and oregat–which was so good that it turned me back on to ginger as a flavor), we decided to order a light tasting menu to best enjoy the raw bar and fish the restaurant is famous for.
The seafood was perfection–I hadn’t tasted anything as good since David and I had spend a weekend up in Newport, Rhode Island (though Palm Beach, Florida was a close second). Sweet, fresh, and no-nonsense–it’s all pricey, but believe me you’ll want to keep ordering till you’re full. The sushi rolls were good but complicated–I preferred the unadorned Alaskan King Crab legs and the mix of East and West coast oysters.
We listened to our waiter, who was very helpful and very patient (and very limber–I still can’t get over how everyone managed to carry food across that tiny patio) and ordered seafood sliders with their house made chips (which were heaven–I adore potatoes in any form and their sweet potato ones were very, very good). Those are griddled mini lobster rolls with a lemon aioli and Florida shrimp sliders with pickles and spicy mayo above–so cute and unique and flavorful.
We were both very full and it was getting late when it came time for dessert (the place was packed!). David wanted to try their famous chocolate chip cookies (which they cleverly advertise as available to stay or to go), but our waiter was disappointed we weren’t going for their flourless chocolate layer cake, which he said was far superior. We declined, but since he’d overheard it was David’s birthday, he brought one out with a candle anyway. So sweet! It was a perfect way to celebrate a summer birthday. If you’re looking for great seafood (and willing to splurge) in a very New York scene, definitely check this place out.
Blue Water Grill 31 Union Square West
New York, New York 10003
at 16th Street