It had been a while since we last visited Blue Water Bistro, and although we were greeted by the familiar shiny swordfish swimming on a wall of oceanic blues, this culinary experience was to be a completely new adventure. Owner Skip Quillen and the Culinary Concepts chefs recently pored over the menu – updating, enhancing and reenergizing the restaurant’s offerings.

While perennial favorites like Morning After Mussels and Homemade Crab Cakes remain, the majority of the menu is as fresh as the fish flown in each morning. Tuna and swordfish from the Pacific waters are overnighted, arriving at the restaurant the day after they’re caught. Other fresh catches come from the waterways of Hong Kong, Colorado, Canada, Massachusetts, and Peru, as well as shrimp and grouper straight from the Gulf. The revamped menu begins with new cocktails and artisan Ciabatta bread for the table. New appetizers include the Jalapeno Pops, starring giant, tempura-fried jalapenos with a krab-cream cheese filling and served with spicy mayo. (A surefire way to get the kids to eat their greens is the tempura- fried Crispy Green Beans, also with spicy mayo.)

New seafood specialties include crab-stuffed jumbo shrimp and blackened Peruvian Sea Bass, impressively plated with a sea-inspired parmesan foam, and served over shrimp and parmesan risotto. There are also tasty dishes for landlubbers, like Chipotle Baby Back Ribs and Beef Rigatoni. While the new dishes are stunning as well as succulent, the price is also sensational. Some menu items have been discounted by as much as 40 percent, offering guests fi ne, local dining at nearly chain restaurant prices. As we head into spring, Blue Water Bistro offers a lovely setting for al fresco dining, with 21 tables out front and six more in the courtyard. The bar offers service from inside or out, and happy hour runs all night Sundays through Thursdays. The night we dined, the restaurant was fi lled with families. The elegant, oceanic atmosphere and diverse menu should appeal to all ages and tastes. “It’s upscale casual dining, but it’s relaxed and fun,” says our server, Kevin, who has been with Blue Water since its opening eight years ago. “It’s a good atmosphere for families or business meetings.”

OUR FAVORITES

01. COCKTAILS/THE DRAGON

Blue Water Bistro boasts some beautiful and creative cocktails – a great way to start the evening. Like the dinner menu, the drink menu also has been refreshed. The Dragon is an adventurous gin cocktail with an interesting blend of muddled jalapeño with sweet mango and dragon fruit juices.

02. STARTERS/MORNING AFTER MUSSELS

Blue Water appetizers steal the show, with so many tasty options! The “Morning After Mussels” has been a guest favorite since the beginning and is the only original recipe still in the starting lineup. Tender mussels are served in Bloody Mary broth with jalapeno and citrus spiced vodka for a flavor to excite the taste buds.

03. SUSHI & CEVICHE

The sushi menu is a meal in itself, with beautiful presentation to rival any Asian restaurant. California Dreaming is a vegetarian sushi with kale, sushi rice, avocado, pickled carrot and tofu, rolled in quinoa and topped with sliced mushroom. Also try the Tuna Poke off the starter menu, featuring sashimi-style ahi tuna tossed tableside in a light soy with yuzu, avocado, jumbo lump crab, spinach and mango, topped with orange caviar.

04. SALAD/APPLE, WALNUT & ROMAINE

Salads at Blue Water Bistro are not only tasty but artistic. The Bistro Salad features watermelon and chevre cheese, while the Apple, Walnut & Romaine Salad combines blue cheese, walnuts and prosciutto with thin- sliced tart apples. Entree salads include Veggie Caesar and Blackened Salmon.

05. DAILY CATCH/SWORDFISH

Seafood is the specialty at Blue Water Bistro, so it’s hard to go wrong when choosing something from the sea. The fish menu allows guests to select from about 10 staple and seasonal catches, ordered fresh daily. The Swordfish is firm and meaty. We sampled it with mango sweet and sour sauce, along with the culinary contrasting sides of roasted sweet potato and zippy Zucchini Pomodoro.

06. DESSERT/ COCONUT CHEESECAKE

Blue Water Bistro’s beautiful creations are just as tasty as they look. The Coconut Cheesecake is an exciting and tropical twist on this dessert menu staple. It’s topped with mango glaze and served with a medley of passion fruit and other tropical fruits. Also try the rich Peanut Butter Black Bottom Pie, a longtime favorite of Blue Water Bistro guests.

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