Monday, June 3, 2013

So Bring On the Figgy Pudding

Warm Barbecue Potato Chips with Blue Cheese and Bacon Dip -- Blue Smoke

There is a reason it has taken us so long to make our way to Blue Smoke.  After all, in what normal universe would we object to consuming homemade potato chips, immediately, if not sooner?
Come At Us, Carbs
But Blue Smoke is not just a restaurant, but also a jazz club, and if there is one kind of music we... how to say politely?

Well, we hate jazz.
Hi, Yes, Do You Guys Have Any Showtunes?
For this reason, when Ginger arrives at our table (which Vodka had already made the hostess switch, when she tried to seat us next to a table of babies.  Homie don't play that), Vodka asks with mild panic in her voice, "Where does the jazz happen?"  (The implication being, "Please don't let it be anywhere near us").

Ginger waves her hand dismissively.  "In another room.  Don't worry.  We're not close to it."
We Have Restraining Orders Out Against Saxophones
With that assurance, we move onto the most important item on our agenda: cocktails.  And it is at this point that our waiter realizes he has a long night ahead of him.
Primarily Because We're Too Busy Reading the Coasters to Pay Attention to Him
Ginger, after trying to talk said waiter into giving us a happy hour special (and failing), orders a Dark and Stormy.  Vodka, however, is trying to discern which, if any, of the specialty cocktails are not sweet, and when our waiter answers, "Um, none of them," she asks if she can have the Porch Swing made with "more gin, less lemonade."
"So Pretty Much Just Bring Me Some Gin"
This comment, while made somewhat ("somewhat") in jest, actually seems to come to fruition, as the bartender's less-sweet creation is not only delicious, but deceivingly strong (it is also a very large pour, which is always appreciated).  Apparently, these are the kinds of beverages patrons need to consume in order to sit through seventeen rounds of jazz riffs.
Though Considering the Headaches We Had the Next Day, Perhaps Blue Smoke's "Gin" Is "Rubbing Alcohol"
With our cocktails squared away, we order Susan Feniger's Best Thing I Ever Ate FINGER FOOD dish, the warm barbecue potato chips with blue cheese and bacon dip.  Not really in the mood for Blue Smoke's classic barbeque delicacies, we debate for many, many minutes about what else to order.  And while heaven knows we love a fat-laden calorie, it is at this time that we realize just how HEAVY all of the items on Blue Smoke's menu are -- there is pretty much nothing one can order and still leave the place not feeling like she has gained multiple pounds.
So, we figure, when in Rome, go for the fried stuff.
Preparing to Become the Pillsbury Doughgirls
We ask our now long-suffering waiter (who has approached our table three times now asking for our entree order, and each time has been waved away with a murmur of "We're drinking") what Jackie's fry bread is, and when he describes it as a "savory doughnut," we're instantly sold.  Within minutes, our first round of food -- the chips and the fry bread -- appear, and we dive in.

Well, we attempt to dive in.

Only the food, the fry bread in particular, is astoundingly hot.  Like, so hot that it's pretty much impossible to touch, let alone eat.  And we are not fond of being delayed from stuffing food into our mouths.
Waiter, Return This Dish to the Kitchen Until It Is Appropriately Lukewarm
We reach for the more temperate of the two dishes, the homemade potato chips, which Ginger has actually had before and was less than overwhelmed by.  The first couple of chips make Vodka think that Ginger was being too picky -- warm with a slight hint of barbecue seasoning, the chips themselves are mostly vehicles for the blue cheese and bacon dip.
Dip = The Greatest Condiment
On their own, the chips aren't all that interesting, but when combined with the dip, it makes for a pleasing, if not entirely original, combination.
Anyone Have a Bag of Utz To Top These Off?
But as we reach the bottom of the bucket, the bigger problem with these chips begins to emerge.  Generally speaking, we're not all that into when restaurants make their own potato chips for a few reasons:

1. They're usually overcooked...
2. ...And yet somehow soggy....
3. And the longer they sit, the more tightly they all stick together.

And indeed, all of these problems are true when it comes to Blue Smoke's chips.
This Dish Would Be More Appropriately Called "Warm Barbecue Potato CHIP"
By the bottom of the barrel, they are essentially one solid mass of greasy chip, in desperate need of some crispiness.  And based on the gallon of blue cheese dip we still have left, Blue Smoke needs some work when it comes to appropriate portions.
So Are We Just Supposed to Spoon The Rest of This DIRECTLY Into Out Mouths?!
When the fry bread has finally cooled down for us to taste, we are instantly disappointed.  The stuff is indeed like a doughnut in texture -- fluffy and soft and just barely fried on the outside.
A Glazed Doughnut Sans the Glaze
But it is so ridiculously BLAND that Vodka ends up using Blue Smoke's entire condiment collection in order to try to bring some flavor to the stuff (for the record, the salt is, naturally, the most effective).
Something In This Contraption Has Got to Have Some Taste to It
You Keep Your Magic Dust, Blue Smoke -- We'll Take Your Salt
At this point, not entirely impressed by Blue Smoke's food selection so far, we opt for a second round of cocktails, a Caesar salad, and an order of sticky toffee pudding.  The salad is decidedly "blah" -- essentially hunks of romaine hearts, hacked into pieces and sprinkled with an oily dressing and grocery store-style croutons.
We Pretty Much Ordered This Because It Was the Only Thing Not-Fried-Within-an-Inch-of-Its-Life on the Menu
We consume it half-heartedly, partially because we are already somewhat full from our foray into fried foods, but mostly because we think it could stand for a bit (okay, a ton) more dressing.
Is THIS What All the Extra Blue Cheese Dip Was For?!
However, lest you think everything (except the cocktails) at Blue Smoke is verging on the side of Average-to-Poor, we still have to contend with the sticky toffee pudding.  And this thing is a bit of majesty.
The Crown Jewels
Truth be told, we're not exactly sure what sticky toffee pudding is -- only that it's an English dessert (a fact we know because we consumed it in the England section of Epcot).  Indeed, multiple times through the course of the evening, we end up referring to it as "figgy pudding," and thus launching into confused versions of Christmas carols.
"How's It Go? 'Bring On the Figgy Pudding?'" "Bring US Some Figgy Pudding. Not Bring ON."
But despite our confusion, we are in love with this dessert -- the cake portion is moist yet sturdy, the accompanying toffee sauce is just sweet enough, and the sprinkle of pecans and whipped/sour cream over top pull the whole thing together.
Everything's Better with a Dollop of Cream
THIS, Susan Feringer, is 5 stars.  Those pesky potato chips are decidedly not.

Admittedly more than buzzed from our two cocktails, we make a great show about screwing up our bill, Vodka launches into a convoluted tale about hair care ("In a manic episode while drinking a lot of caffeine, I bought a hair dryer"), and Ginger begins hoarding Blue Smoke's toothpicks (which Vodka is convinced are matches, and thus accuses Ginger of taking up smoking).
Ginger Didn't Light the Fire
Needless to say, the Blue Smoke staff can't seem to get rid of us fast enough.  And lucky for us, we manage to trip our way out of the place before a single note of the dreaded jazz music hits our ears.

Blue Smoke's Warm Barbecue Potato Chips with Blue Cheese and Bacon Dip: 3 stars

1 comment:

  1. I have to try sticky toffee pudding soon! I find many restaurants have trouble with both chips and fries. But I once had chips at a Wolfgang Puck restaurant that were outstanding. I wish they would have been my meal!