Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Bluewater's Terrific Second Tuesday Tastings

Bluewater Grill has been opened five years now, but it has had to re-think itself constantly thanks to pandemics and the like. The focus has always been on sustainable seafood, though, served in one of Santa Barbara's inimitable locations, on Cabrillo, staring out at Stearns Wharf and the harbor. Heck, it's even got a mock lighthouse tower to draw visitors in. 

That doesn't stop them from instigating a program called Second Tuesday Tastings. For October and National Seafood Month, Bluewater turned to Spain for inspiration (mostly with the wine parings), and offered up this deal: an appetizer of panko artichoke hearts with brava sauce with a glass of Abadía de San Campio Albariño and an entree of chipotle blackened swordfish alongside a pour of Marqués de Riscal Verdejo. The special two-course with wine pairings ran $55 per person, which is quite a deal, especially if you consider that signature swordfish dish goes for $38 on the regular menu. I mean, I usually don't get an app and two glasses of wine for 17 bucks, do you? 

Besides photographing well with some palm trees as a back drop, the Albariño, is a perfect it takes some time for fall to fall on Santa Barbara wine, super-grippy, presenting its lemonsicle flavors with a richer mouthfeel than usual for the varietal without going flabby.

That also made the wine a fine foil to the heaping helping of artichoke, golden brown fried in that panko so it almost looks like mozzarella fingers, but is much lighter inside. Clean, crisp, and crunchy. Brava sauce makes you say bravo on the finish, tomato's hearty essence ringing out and bringing some acid needed to the fry-ness of the artichoke. It's so good, you will no doubt sop up any left over with the old school San Francisco-style sourdough (which arrives at the table warm--nice touch).

The Marqués de Riscal Verdejo comes off as more of a country cousin compared to the sleeker Albariño, greener and grassier and more Sauvignon Blanc-y, as it were. Still, it pairs very well with what a GM insisted is a blackened swordfish with chipotle dirty rice, as opposed to a chipotle blackened swordfish. Distinctions do matter, in numerous ways, starting with the dirty rice that had some warming not burning chile heat, a scattering of black beans, endnote a hint of pork (good news, pescatarians!). The swordfish rub offered a bit of a kick, too, but it doesn't hurt for theme to end with an inner glow, especially if you're sitting outside. (And if you can, snag one of the amazing tables outside the second floor bar, as the view alone is worth it.)

Also note this is a serious plate of food--it's not a precious dollop of rice besides an inch by inch fish cut. And that corn and avocado add just enough Southwest to help the dish soar and sing.

Service was flowing smoothly--pleasant, attentive, unrushed. It was a new GM's first day, so if you go in be sure to welcome Annia Bonifaz, who is happy to be back at the Santa Barbara location (Bluewater is everywhere, from Catalina to Phoenix). 

Even better, since they didn't feel they got the word out fully about this month's Second Tuesday Tasting, they're going to repeat it next Tuesday, October 17. 

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