My friend thought we were meant to be dining in the slightly more casual restaurant next door, so when she entered Blu Grill in an old t-shirt and jeans she felt quite under-dressed. The room did feel a bit posh: low lighting, a sophisticated décor of greys and black and white, padded bench seats along one wall, high backed white leather chairs.
The tables were set nicely, with decent stemwear and cutlery. As you walked in, a large display of wines fronted a glass wall behind which the kitchen staff were working hard. No secrets here.
It was 7.30pm on an atrocious winter night yet the room was full and it was an animated crowd. You know when you walk into a restaurant and you can tell if people are having fun or if they're afraid to raise their voices. This was a happy crowd: a mix of young couples on dates, large groups and families. The rather romantic dim lighting was offset by slightly-too-loud music.
I had arrived first and once I was seated I was overlooked until my friend arrived. I desperately wanted a glass of water and would have rather liked a champagne, but I couldn't attract the attention of my waitress. Once my friend arrived however, we were promptly served. A bottle of water arrived and our drinks order was taken.
I asked her to bring me whatever sparkling wine best suited my meal and even though she personally didn't know, she was happy to speak with the bar about what would be most appropriate. I ended up with a $12 glass of French bubbly from their extensive wine list. It was spot on.
It felt like quite a wait for our meals but I think I was just ravenous. Luckily we were provided with a complimentary jar of mixed marinated nuts. I love free things, especially food and these were curious. A new initiative of the kitchen, I think they are still fine-tuning the recipe, a mix of flavours including oil, garlic and Moroccan spices. The nuts were tasty although there was a tad too much oil: they felt wet and there was a lot of finger licking going on.
The menu at Blu is extensive and expensive.
Entrees range from $18 to $22 and include chicken livers and pork belly. Only two of the mains are less than $30 and they are the sole vegetarian meals on the menu (risotto for $26 and pasta for $28).
I admit I had difficulty in choosing what to order – there were a lot of interesting meals, and it wasn't just choosing between the protein (lamb, pork, steak, chicken, seafood) it was all the goodies that came with the meals: gorgonzola and fig stuffing in the chicken ($36), zucchini and almond fritter with the barramundi ($36), cinnamon butternut mash with the pork ($38), herb infused field mushroom with the beef ($36).
From the grill are four offerings ranging from the $32 rump steak to the $42 eye fillet. Steaks all come with a choice of great sounding sauces (wild mushroom and blue cheese; anchovy and rosemary; homemade BBQ; and roast garlic and peppercorn) but you have to order sides to go with them ($7-$9). It makes for a rather expensive meal.
I elected to order the tequila flambéed Pork cutlet ($38) which according to the menu came with pancetta, beetroot puree, warm polenta cake, Lyonnais potato, cinnamon flavoured butternut mash, blanched broccolini and plum sauce.
Ok, it didn't actually come with some of these things, but I didn't notice at the time. The broccolini was asparagus and the plum sauce was a pepper sauce, but perhaps I'm just being picky. The pork was tender and still a little pink, the mashed pumpkin was sweet as you'd expect and the potatoes were delicious and gone too soon.
It was a posh room, but not so posh it stopped me from picking up the bone in my fingers and gnawing the rest of the meat off.
My friend ordered a steak with the roast garlic and peppercorn sauce, with a $9 bowl of mashed potato infused with truffle oil. I tend to think truffle is a little overrated and I couldn't detect any in the mash, but it was otherwise creamy and tasty.
Despite the decent hunks of meat on our plates we still had room for dessert. Not the faint hearted, these desserts are rich and expensive.
I'm a sucker for crème brulee ($16) and this one promised to be infused with Indian spices and served with mango sorbet, berry coulis and white chocolate and saffron coated cherries. Again, the dish was missing some of the elements - my single cherry was an unadorned maraschino – but it was tasty and rich. I struggled to finish it.
My friend chose the chocolate trio ($16) baked hot chocolate, white chocolate mousse and chocolate icecream with chocolate ganache.
The cheapest dessert option is an $8 scoop of vanilla bean icecream with chocolate ganache.
There is a kids menu ('Baby Blu') with a choice of four mains all with drink and icecream at the rather grown-up price of $22. According to one section on the website they are now also open for breakfast, but their opening times still indicate they don't open til 5pm (or midday on weekends) and there is no breakfast menu online.
Blu Grill (they have dropped the 'e' because it's all about 'u') is located in the small complex of shops and restaurants opposite Jackadder Lake in Woodlands (behind Event Cinemas in Innaloo). Parking can be tricky and you need to be careful with the un-signposted one way lanes in the carpark (the giveaway being the awkward angle you're expected to park at if you inadvertently go the wrong way).
Blu is a nice night out but it's pricey and a bit hit-and-miss as to whether you get exactly what is on the menu. However the food is good quality, pretty to look at and plentiful. There's a reason it was a finalist for a Gold Plate in 2012 and 2013.
We found the service friendly and attentive (after the initial wait) and it was easy to sit and eat and chat for hours, until they started setting the tables around us and we realised we were the last people there.
My husband and I go to Blu Grill every school holidays and we love it! The menu is constantly changing and we haven't had a bad meal yet. It is a bit expensive but that's what you have to pay to get a decent meal. They constantly have great deals and special nights, like date night and kids eat for free on a particular night too. We recommend it to everyone!