Blu again proves it’s much more than your typical hotel restaurant

by Jessica Cobb | Contributing Writer

My first time walking through the bright, airy lobby of the Tides Hotel on my way to Blu … I remember like it was yesterday. It was nearly 10 years ago and I had just moved to the Charleston peninsula. I was heading up a new restaurant in a small, hot, unventilated kitchen downtown in the French Quarter. Everyone was working nearly seven days a week trying to get it open.

I had been here about two months and had not yet seen the ocean. The owner insisted that we all take the rare afternoon off and a co-worker suggested that we take a drive down to Folly.

It had been 15 years since I had been to the island as a kid on family vacation, and I was dying to return and indulge in some fresh seafood, smell the salty air, and get some sand in my toes. My friend and I had a couple of dive spots on our list of places to check out, but he said we absolutely must start out at Blu. Oceanfront restaurant, perfect view of the pier (and good people watching!), and a great menu to get our culinary tour started.

We had a spicy shrimp dish, chilled bubbly, and sat right on the edge overlooking the beach. It did not disappoint, and there began my love affair with Blu.

Recently, the upscale beachside restaurant did a fantastic remodel of their outdoor dining area, and upon first sight I was so impressed that it actually had me looking around thinking, “Why hasn’t it been like this all along?” What was once a wide-open space that was sometimes a free-for-all with well-dressed diners mingling with bikini-clad bar patrons, is now a very defined and chic (covered!) outdoor dining space. The outdoor bar still has its designated party area, it’s just shaded from the lunch, brunch, and dinner crowd by large, lush planters now.

Since moving to Folly Beach 8 years ago, I’ve eaten in the restaurant more times that I can count, so I’ve experienced multiple menu changes over the years. Just last month, Blu unveiled its most recent menu overhaul.

The latest edition is no disappointment, with sexy additions such as the Exotic Salad with lobster, shrimp, and Green Goddess dressing and the chilled Soba Noodles with Ahi Tuna, crisp jicama and watermelon.

Obviously being beachfront, seafood is the star of most dishes but you should definitely branch out and order the Chilled Grilled Vegetable plate. Presented on a beautiful wooden tray, you’re served a spread of seasonal vegetables paired with herbed goat cheese, butter bean spread, and black bean hummus and it is most certainly a hit.

Of course, sometimes you just want a good steak, and Blu has never let me down with their Surf and Turf. It’s always perfectly cooked, and now they also offer beef tenderloin with demi-glace or chimichurri sauce on their skewer menu. Speaking of skewers, they are getting a resurgence on many menus theses days, and Blu is doing it right by offering them with multiple sauces and proteins to choose from.

If you’re looking for something a little more comfort food-esque, go for the Wild Mushroom Risotto. It’s creamy and cheesy and by adding grilled shrimp to it made for a perfect dish.

And if after enjoying your leisurely meal, you have a sweet tooth definitely check out the dessert menu. I tend to judge a dessert menu by its execution of the classic Crème Brûlée, and Blu’s is perfected by a white chocolate mousse and fresh berries. I just love to crack into the top of the caramelized sugar with my spoon!

Blu is definitely not just your typical hotel restaurant. Gorgeous décor, exceptional service by a staff full of friendly faces, and even though it goes without saying, I must: the amazing oceanfront view. Whether you’re staying at the Tides as a guest or like me, just a local who enjoys a great meal with great service, do yourself a favor and check out their new look and menu. You won’t be disappointed.

Jessica Cobb is a Folly Beach resident with years of culinary experience tucked into her apron pocket. Classically trained chef and owner of local catering company, Some Like it Hot, she joins the Folly Current as a contributing writer to the Food and Dining section in hopes of sparking new interest, cravings, and insight from our eclectic bunch of restaurants.

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