Before Blueacre opened in March at the corner of Seventh and Olive, Oceanaire, a similarly swank seafood restaurant, occupied the space (until closing last year). Before chef Kevin Davis opened Steelhead Diner, he was the chef at Oceanaire. So, in essence, Davis has come full circle.
Here in spacious interiors dressed up in white with Caribbean blue accents, he’s doing New Orleans–accented seafood, which fans of Steelhead will find familiar. But Blueacre isn’t quite Steelhead 2.0, because, sadly, it’s not nearly as good. The food can be quite delicious—especially simply prepared salmon with brown butter and port-soaked cherries ($26.95), or Davis’ famously good lump crab cake ($14.95).
But it can also be wildly off balance, as evidenced by a disturbingly fishy fish stew ($16.95), forgettable and overcooked beef tenderloin ($24.95), and a plate of fried razor clams served in a sinus-clearing puddle of mustard sauce ($9.95).
Worse, though, is the service. I can’t prove it, but based on the strange declarations (“the special is skate fish, which I’m sure you’ve never had”) and infuriating lack of knowledge (a claim that there was no difference between two pinot gris offerings, except, apparently, a $3 price variance per glass), I’d bet both servers I endured on my visits had started waiting tables that very day.
The good news for Davis and company is that the place is packing ’em in nightly. The bad news is just how few will return if things don’t improve.