Bluewater Grill in Newport is featured on the Visit Newport Beach.com blog for it's unique "To Go" services!
By Deirdre Michalski - July 27, 2015
Original article on the Newport Beach Blog
There are three very special things about this restaurant for “To Go” ordering from Bluewater Grill in Newport Beach:
1) They have mastered the art of “to go” with packaging and party boxes that make it easy to literally grab, go and unwrap.
2) With one-hour notice by phone, they will have your order ready to go. Wow!
3) For boat owners, or Duffy rentals, they have their own private dock and guests on the water can pull up, jump out, and pick up their order with ease. They have been doing this for 20 years as a partner with Duffy electric boat rentals.
This is a classic New England-style fish house overlooking the Rhine Channel and docks. There is a dining room, bar and lovely outdoor patio with plank & pier floorboards and a shaded canopy overhead. The food is incredible with daily fish specials that seem to go on and on. A local’s hang out for sure. Below is the link to their catering menus and offer a plethora from: cheese and fruit platters, sandwich platters, to shrimp cocktail and multi-course meals.
Boat Docking- There is one two-sided dock available for guests with smaller electric boats. There is a second public dock that runs perpendicular to the restaurant. This public dock can accommodate much larger boats.
Open daily for lunch and dinner
- Bluewater Grill is featured in HB magazine for its pioneering commitment to tasty and sustainable seafood!
By Jody Robinson
An iconic Newport Beach eatery situated on Lido Isle, Bluewater Grill hits the mark on all fronts: its water’s edge location, which boasts panoramic views of Newport Bay, is equally accessible by land or sea (yachts moor along the dock); its laid-back vibe defines a dining experience that turns a leisurely meal into more of a “mini vacation”; and its lunch and dinner menus are printed daily to allow the restaurant to serve up only the freshest seafood.
“We serve up to 40 varieties of fresh seafood and shellfish,” says Co-Founder Jimmy Ulcickas. “Our direct relationships with fishermen on both coasts gives us access to certain varieties that simply aren't available anywhere else.”
But it is Bluewater Grill’s pioneering commitment to seafood sustainability (both at the restaurant group’s four locations and within the industry) that is perhaps its biggest “story.”
The establishment is one of the few restaurants in Orange County (and the country) to publish its own “Fish Origins Grid,” showing the source of all seafood and shellfish on the menu (fresh fish are sourced from all over the planet): Alaskan halibut is caught in the cold, pure waters of the Gulf of Alaska; swordfish, white sea bass and red snapper hail from local waters while tilapia is sourced from Costa Rica and rainbow trout makes its way from Idaho – all designed to avoid overfishing and further threatening already endangered populations.
“Our goal is 100% menu certification by the end of 2012 - meaning that all of the seafood and shellfish on our menu meets strict sustainability standards established by the Monterey Bay Aquarium or the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach,” says Ulcickas. “This is obviously a major challenge for any moderately priced seafood restaurant – however we are already more than 90% there.”
To further illustrate its commitment, Bluewater Grill has added a “Sustainable Seafood Feast” event to its annual seafood tasting and pairing events, patterned after similar
industry- and media-only events the restaurant has hosted for several years (the inaugural event, open to the public) was held on Sept. 11, 2012.
A Personal Perspective
Years ago, I wrote restaurant reviews for a regional business/lifestyle publication. One of the first eateries I had the pleasure of experiencing was Bluewater Grill. Over the years since, my return visits have been no less impressive than my first foray into the nautical-themed establishment.
The service is always friendly and knowledgeable, the atmosphere casual, comfortable and characterized by views that are nothing short of spectacular. As a seafood aficionado, it wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say I’ve sampled the fare at scores of Southland seafood restaurants and Bluewater Grill ranks at the top of my list.
For starters, favorite picks are any of the oysters on the half shell and Bluewater Grill’s signature crabcakes, which arrive loosely packed and dusted with breadcrumbs. A Cajun remoulade and chive oil adds just the right amount of kick.
For a dish not found on many OC menus, try the flavorful (and colorful) seafood paella valenciana characterized by bright red peppers and green peas, the orange and brown hues of saffron-infused rice and chock-full of steaming shrimp, mussels, clams, chicken and chorizo.
The presentation of every entrée is artful – the cedar salmon arrives on its namesake wood plank flavor-enhanced by a fresh citrus beurre blanc and accompanied by grilled eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and sweet onions.
These are a few of my favorites, but you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here. Great food, excellent service and eco-friendly to boot? Sure sounds like a recipe for long-term success to me.
- Bluewater Grill sizzles in a review by Orange Coast Magazine!
By Gretchen Kurz
The dining room at Bluewater Grill teems with a rich cross section of Newport Beach: well-heeled retirees, gaggles of polished gal pals, date-nighters, and salty, sun-bronzed locals arriving on foot. All flow into this waterside fish house with the nonchalance of regulars, happy to await their tables over drinks, or snag a stool at the bustling oyster bar.
Open since 1996, the seafood sprawler is clever about serving venerated favorites, such as rich chowder, grilled trout, and fried clams, alongside younger, more modern creations, many with a California accent: zesty cioppino, blackened swordfish tacos, and mahi-mahi sliders slick with jalapeño aioli. Executive chef Brian Hirsty’s confident crew shifts from icy platters of precisely shucked oysters so voluptuous they barely need saucing, to sizzling ginger-lime prawns over celery root slaw. Printed daily, the upgraded menu spotlights seasonal specials bursting with contemporary twists.
One night’s fresh halibut, cut to the size of a Rubik’s cube, is hot, juicy and not a bit overcooked in its crunchy, gold jacket of tempura batter studded with yam sticks. Sweet-spicy chili oil gives the snow-white meat some sass, but it also complements the tangle of cold glass noodles served alongside. It’s generations apart from the menu’s sautéed Wisconsin walleye or fried Ipswich clam bellies, American classics with old-timey allure. So bring your visiting Aunt Charlotte for fried smelt or your fussy co-worker for a luscious lobster roll, assured that you can delight yourself with the marvelous paella Valenciana. This seafooder is more than standing the test of time; it’s staying one step ahead of the game.
Best New Dish
Paella or Ginger-Lime Prawns
Free for two bottles. More than half of the wine list is less than $40 per bottle; fair prices include Cakebread at $60.
This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue.
- A review by Michael Hepworth, MyCity This seafood only restaurant has been delighting South Bay fish lovers for 7 years now, and it is easy to see why.By Michael Hepworth
A really creative menu of partly Asian style fusion sea food dishes created by chef Brian Hirsty and his team in their spacious open kitchen delights the palate. Some of the must have items include the salt and black pepper shrimp with a dash of ginger, the crab cakes, and the excellent calamari, as fresh as any I have tried. Main course are great, but you have to go for the yam crusted halibut with Asian noodles or the blackened swordfish with roasted vegetables. These are items I have never seen on a menu before, and next time I will go for the Eureka Sanddabs or the Mississippi Catfish. I almost forgot the Scallops on a half shell. The cocktails are very strong here, so be careful if you are driving. Desserts are special too, and everything goes well with the rather delightful ambiance of the room.
- Sitting in the cozy new addition to Bluewater Grill on the harbor in Redondo Beach, adjacent the outdoor lounge with its fire pit (and its population of blondes, direct from Central Casting), and settling into a particularly icy Ketel One Vodka Classic Martini, it occurred to me that I couldn't remember the last time I had gone beyond the appetizers and the Seafood Bar at Bluewater.By Merrill Shindler, Daily Breeze
Sitting in the cozy new addition to Bluewater Grill on the harbor in Redondo Beach, adjacent the outdoor lounge with its fire pit (and its population of blondes, direct from Central Casting), and settling into a particularly icy Ketel One Vodka Classic Martini, it occurred to me that I couldn't remember the last time I had gone beyond the appetizers and the Seafood Bar at Bluewater.
Now, I know this seems like a strange thought to fixate upon, but this is a quintessential Beach City seafood restaurant.
When people lament the lack of good waterfront restaurants in the South Bay, I always point out Bluewater, where the commitment to fresh fish, colorful creations and an admirable assortment of beers by the mug and wines by the glass (to say nothing of those exotic martinis and cocktails) make for a most enjoyable afternoon or evening on the water.
Perhaps it's the casual nature of the place that's long led me to the top of the menu, to the smaller dishes which create an evening of many tastes, a multitude of ingredients, a world of herbs and spices.
This is not to say anything's wrong with the entrees - the cedar plank wild king salmon is one of the best in town, and the Maine lobster clambake is a terrific deal at $28.95.
But I'm a grazer, always have been, always will be. It's why I love sushi and dim sum so much. And it's why the Grazing Revolution of the '80s made me so happy and why the Small Plate Explosion of the past few years has been a treat. Perhaps the best way to begin a journey through the small dishes of Bluewater Grill is with the Happy Hour menu, available from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
You can get sliders (both beef and calamari), along with a duo of oyster shooters, and grilled fish tacos for $3 a pop. Move up to $4, and you've got a choice of lettuce wraps filled with shrimp ceviche, very good salt and pepper shrimp (akin to the dish found at Chinese seafood restaurants, but prepared with more finesse), and some properly crunchy calamari fritti.
Up it to $5 and you're in the realm of hot crab and artichoke dip (a wonderful bit of indulgence - a very enjoyable way to murder any diet plans); the steamed clams (by contrast, a dish that fits into many diets); and a small stew of pan-seared beef served with horseradish sauce and garlic toast, called a Tenderloin Tease. (And yes, I did mistake the rather creamy horseradish for a side of mashed potatoes. And yes, it made me cry - as a proper horseradish sauce should.)
Along with the Happy Hour dishes (which are served in the bar area only), there's a trio of $5 drink specials: the Dark & Stormy is Gosling's Black Seal Rum with Barritt's Ginger Beer; the Rocks Margarita is made with Sauza Silver; and the way outre Deep Blue mixes Canton Ginger Liqueur with Malibu Rum, Bacardi Light Rum, De Kuyper Blue Curacao and pineapple juice - a party in a glass.
Should you show up after 6:30 (or on a weekend), many of the Happy Hour dishes can be found on the appetizer menu or at the Seafood Bar.
Bluewater has long had one of the best raw bars around, a fine destination at which to slide onto a chair and into a freshly poured glass of Stella Artois, Firestone Double Barrel or Widmer Hefeweisen. The menu is printed daily, so the selection of oysters and fish changes from day to day. Recently the oysters were Hammersly Cove, Blue Point and Pickering Pearl Petites, while the clams were Cherrystone.
If you like to have choices made for you (or simply enjoy the sense of serendipity), go for the Fruits de Mer Platter - a half-dozen raw oysters, four Cherrystones, four sea scallops (raw) topped with citrusy ponzu sauce, four wild prawns and a half-pound of Alaskan king crab legs. It costs $39.95 and it's worth it.
There's a sashimi threesome as well - ahi tuna, ahi poke (chopped and marinated in the Hawaiian style) and those ponzu scallops topped with a snappy wasabi aioli. Nice.
There's an appetizer of fish smoked in-house over alder and oak, giving it a smooth flavor; it's a bit like the mellow flavor of Cuban cigars, in contrast to harsher Jamaican cigars. There's albacore and salmon on the sampler, which are the big boys of smoked fish, though I do miss the smoked Idaho trout the restaurant used to offer - it was some of the best smoked trout I'd ever tasted.
For those who want their oyster shooters jazzed to the max, you can get one made with a shot of Absolut Peppar Vodka, which goes down very well, as long as hot and spicy are words you like well.
The oysters Rockefeller are classically prepared, with creamed spinach, bacon and Romano cheese. (I've long heard that the original oysters Rockefeller were made with watercress. I think spinach is probably an improvement.)
Many years ago, I decided that when all was said and done, it was the chowder that ultimately defined the cooking at a seafood restaurant.
In this case, the New England clam chowder (reddish Manhattan is fine, but I've long been a pale New England lad) is a worthy creation, neither too thick nor too thin, with a fair balance of clams and vegetables, made somewhat better with a shake or two of hot sauce.Though the hot sauce may give a touch of pinkness to the New England, it doesn't turn it into Manhattan; they're radically different critters.
There's a fine lobster bisque as well. But bisque has always seemed a bit fancy for me; chowder is what you eat dressed in your sou'wester as a nor'easter heads your way.
And as a final bit of goodness, the menu also features Ipswich fried clams, a culinary object of desire made from Ipswich clam bellies. They have the cult following of a Philly cheesesteak and a New York pizza. They're hard to find, but they're on the menu at Bluewater.
The blondes around the fire pit would probably love them. Though I don't think they eat fried anything.
Merrill Shindler talks about restaurants from 5 to 7pm Saturdays and Sundays on KLSX 97.1 FM.
- Bluewater Grill raises the standard for seafood in the South Bay. When it comes to things piscatory, this small chain gets everything right. At Bluewater, they understand fish, the whole culinary milieu that goes with fish.by Merrill Shindler - Friday, Jan 17, 2003
Reeling in great seafood at Bluewater Grill
Let us now praise the restaurants that give you more for your money than you could imagine possible. Let us pay homage to those eateries where, despite the ups and downs of the market, a deal is to be found-even if that deal is at its best at only certain times of the week.
For in these wretched times, it's nice to know that there's someone out there who wants to feed you all you can eat, who wants to give you the opportunity to experience the joy of gluttony, without having to pay a whole heck of a lot for the privilege.
Let us praise Big Eats-and in the following case, Big Eats that are good for you as well.
Just a short distance north, the people at the Bluewater Grill figured out how to do it right from Day One. The concept is simple-the freshest fish on the market, cooked as cleanly as possible, served in a fine woodsy setting on the marina. This isn't the sort of restaurant that buries its fish in nuts and berries, or drowns its fish in heavy cream.
Many of the dishes are cooked over mesquite, others are sautéed in the pan, grilled on skewers, or deep-fried ( the only proper way to prepare Ipswich clam bellies). This is the sort of classic East Coast seafood eatery that has a proper Oyster Bar, where you can feed on a big bowl of chowder, and a platter of Yaquinas and Hammersleys-or whatever oyster is fresh at the moment.
It's also a restaurant that, in terms of all-you-can-eat experience, offers one of the best Sunday buffets in the South Bay-very possibly the best. The price here is $18.95 (a glass of champagne is $2 extra, which is fair-I've never understood why those who don't drink should be paying for those who do).
The buffet fills an entire wing of the restaurant, a U-shaped display of tables covered with enough food to feed a proverbial army, a groaning board of dishes, ranging from much seafood (for folks such as me) to a carved-to-order beef round and ham for those who prefer meat to fish.
I made a beeline for the cold seafood table, where I covered half my plate with the peel-and-eat shrimp, and the other half with smoked salmon, albacore and trout. In the small space in between, I squeezed in a bunch of marinated clams and mussels. My logic was simple-everyone knows that cold seafood has no calories, so I can consume all I wanted. And anyway, it's pure Atkins. And anyway, it tastes too good to matter.
In the course of the next hour, I worked my way through a whole poached salmon, oysters on the half shell (and big ones at that!), a seafood Newburg, and pasta salad with calamari and bay shrimp. My less seafood-inclined family did an admirable job with the Belgian waffles topped with whipped cream, fruit, caramel and nuts (not so Atkins); and with classics such as eggs Benedict, French toast, and heaping piles of bacon and sausage.
There's much more, including too many pastries for dessert and chocolate covered strawberries.
In a world of $50 buffet brunches, this was a major deal-a deal with a view and easy parking in front to boot.
Voted Best Seafood Restaurant in the South Bay 2002 - Easy Reader
There are a lot of things you can do with seafood, and some chefs have built reputations on extraordinary and fancy preparations. It is so easy to be dazzled by these that might be forgotten that you can simply grill it and let the goodness of the seafood speak for itself. The folks at Bluewater haven't forgotten that lesson, and they pack the restaurant with people who appreciate as many as twenty kinds of fresh fish and shellfish. The thing that all the food here has in common is that the flavor of the seafood itself shines through.
Two Forks Up - The Beach Reporter
Bluewater Grill has sweeping views of the marina through panoramic windows framing views of blue tarped vessels and and a forest of masts bobbing gently up and down on the tide. You won't feel like a fish out of water here, the servers will help you navigate the endless menu of mouth-watering seafood sautéed, skewered, fried or mesquite grilled on custom made kettle grills and served with your basic sides. Highlights were the shrimp and scallop skewers with bacon and a wonderfully knobby crusted battered fish and chips. Shrimp or crab Louie, avocado or tomato stuffed with bay shrimp and of course the ever persistent Caesar salad are good summer lunch choices.
A perfect L.A. getaway where you can enjoy the "beachy burbs" on a weekday afternoon and get in a little folklore while you're at it.
The New Big Fish - Merrill Shindler, Daily Breeze
Bluewater Grill raises the standard for seafood in the South Bay. When it comes to things piscatory, this small chain gets everything right. At Bluewater, they understand fish, the whole culinary milieu that goes with fish."
- Bluewater Grill is the perfect spot for a casual afternoon or evening combined with a trip to the beach, a stroll along the boardwalk, or a day out shopping. Bluewater is casual, fun, owner-operated, offers a kid's menu, oyster bar, patio dining, and much more!By Mary Adams
Bluewater Grill's mission is to provide their guests with the highest quality seafood, classically prepared, at a fair price, in a friendly, casual atmosphere. They source the globe for the highest quality fresh seafood, develop and maintain relationships with reputable seafood suppliers. They adhere to a daily ritual of controls and systems to ensure the integrity of our seafood. Situated in Southern California, they have two locations in Orange County ("the OC"), Newport Beach and "The District" in Tustin, and one in Redondo Beach on King Harbor.
Bluewater Grill's newest restaurant in Tustin is now open at The District, in Tustin at the corner of Jamboree and Barranca at the former site of the Marine Corp. Air Station, where we recently had dinner.
When it came time to design the Tustin location, Jim Ulcickas (Founder) says the destination nature of Bluewater Grill – specifically the fact that many of his most loyal customers don’t live in Newport or Redondo – prompted the management team to consider taking the concept to non-waterfront locales like The District that offer a strong retail and restaurant mix. Other areas being studied for a Bluewater Grill include Pasadena, south Orange County, Woodland Hills and Santa Barbara. A Bluewater Grill operated in South Coast Village in Santa Ana for several years, and closed in 2007.
Bluewater Grill is the perfect spot for a casual afternoon or evening combined with a trip to the beach, a stroll along the boardwalk, or a day out shopping. Bluewater is casual, fun, owner-operated, offers a kid's menu, oyster bar, patio dining, and much more!
As part of this long-term expansion vision, Bluewater Grill also recently upgraded the Newport and Redondo locations, including remodeling the Redondo bar, and outfitting both restaurants with new furniture, china and interior appointments. Ulcickas says that, despite the changes, he and his team were careful to preserve the authentic “premium fish house” feel that Bluewater Grill regulars at both locations have come to expect. The team also introduced a new “Small Plate” menu, and expanded the Bluewater Grill calendar of regional seafood events, wine and oyster tastings at all three restaurants.
Making good on its promise to bring its premiere fresh seafood concept to Southern Californians that don’t happen to live at the beach, Bluewater Grill Seafood Restaurant opens a 7,250-square-foot restaurant today at The District at Tustin Legacy, the destination lifestyle dining, shopping and entertainment center that debuted in summer 2007 in central Orange County. Beyond its distinction as the third restaurant in the Bluewater Grill family, following the original in Newport Beach’s Cannery Village in 1996 and a second at King Harbor in Redondo Beach in 2001, the new Tustin facility has been intentionally designed as a more stylized prototype for possible future Southern California locations.
The striking “high style meets the beach” design theme represents a dramatic departure from the look and feel of the Newport and Redondo waterfront restaurants yet retains enough of the spirit of the original to make it an authentic Bluewater Grill.
We started our meal with a selection of drinks and appetizers. The menu is thoughtful and inventive in the way it continues this balance between the ethereal and masculine, the Coconut Praws and the Panko Fried Shrimp appetizers positions two large shrimps of each that is refreshingly cool against a sweet mango chili sauce dressing. The menu and decor offer a cohesive gesture of sophistication that may just leave you swooning.
Our appetizers arrive all at once, an artful collection of culinary presentation and they were simply fantastic without any exception.
We tried their magnificient Oysters Rockefeller served baked on the half shell with cream spinach bacon and romano cheese. Also the most amazing way to enjoy Scallops is the Ponzu Sashimi Sea Scallops in the shell topped with wasabi aioli seaweed salad and masago. I would say that it was the best way to enjoy Scallops, simply divine!
If you like meat, their Tenderloin Taster which consisted of tender cuts of beef pan seared with salt and pepper served with horseradish sauce. It was truly delicious and very tasty.
The service was outstanding our waiter Megan was simply one of the best servers we could ever asked for, she brough us a taste of their 3 amazing soups that would satisfy anyone, the Clam Chowder, the Lobster Bisque and the special Seafood Soup were truly outstanding.
Also, the Scallop Scampi made with brandy, sherry and garlic butter was another divine way to enjoy Scallops!
The wine list is an extensive multi-page assortment of predominantly California wines, with a smattering of Australian and European vineyards to round out the collection.
As far as our entrees, our server Megan gave us couple suggestions and we certainly followed her advice, the Baked Stuffed Maine Lobster with Buttery Bay Shrimp Stuffing and a touch of sherry with choice of two sides was a wonderful and new way to enjoy the amazing lobster meat.
I had the Australian Lobster Tail broiled to perfection. These both dishes revealed the unexpected complexities and sense of culinary opulence conveyed by high quality ingredients. The side dishes were also great I loved the sauteed spinach and the five grain rice mix served cool.
Despite the growing mountain of takeout containers we are accumulating, we can’t resist sampling one of their sweet confections. In the spirit of overindulgence that has characterized the rest of our meal, 4 fried bananas with caramel and vanilla ice cream arrives to the table, tempting us with its virtues, and sinful attractions. This is a delicious dessert that shows of the diverse possibilities of sweet tooth satisfaction.
Like its Newport and Redondo counterparts, the Tustin restaurant adheres to a number of time-honored Bluewater Grill traditions: print new lunch and dinner menus daily featuring up to 40 varieties of fresh seafood; make all of its chowders, soups, dressings and sauces from scratch in an open display kitchen; hand-shuck every oyster and clam to order; serve only fresh San Francisco Sourdough® bread; and tap eight draft beers using a state-of-the-art draft beer system that delivers 32-degree beer directly at the tap handle.
Collectively the three Bluewater Grill restaurants purchase more than $3 million in seafood annually directly and indirectly from fisherman, a sheer quantity guaranteeing that Ulcickas and partners Richard Staunton and Robert Hyman continually receive the very best quality. In fact, the three take pride in their close relationships with their seafood vendors – from their harpooned swordfish supplier aboard the Captain Hook to their local lobster fisherman in Redondo Beach to their shellfish growers in Washington’s Puget Sound.
Reflecting the global reach of Bluewater Grill’s suppliers, the Tustin Bluewater Grill serves such daily fresh fish as Mississippi Catfish, Idaho Rainbow Trout, Australian Barramundi, King Salmon from British Columbia, Ahi Tuna from Fiji, Alaskan Halibut, Golden Tilapia from Costa Rica and local Red Snapper and Broadbill Swordfish (seasonal availability varies). Other menu highlights range from Eureka Sanddabs, Mahi Mahi and Seared Jumbo Sea Scallops to San Francisco Cioppino, an Ahi Tuna Burger, signature Bluewater Fish Tacos and premium shellfish including Australian Lobster Tail and Alaskan King Crab. Free-range Chicken, Rib Eye Steak Filet and a Frenched Pork “Rib” Chop cater to the non-seafood lover.
The modern new restaurant has also given Executive Chef Brian Hirsty the opportunity to experiment with a number of new specialty dishes, including Crispy Skin Barramundi with fennel and olive reduction; Alaskan Halibut with a yam-tempura crust, sweet chili glaze and glass noodle salad; and a “Small Plate” menu listing sliders, oyster shooters with Absolut® Pepper vodka, and Salt and Pepper Shrimp.
Tustin’s circular Live Seafood Bar, situated at the front of the restaurant, boasts a constantly changing menu of oysters grown and harvested exclusively for Bluewater Grill and served on the half-shell, plus Sashimi, an “Ichiban” of Seared Ahi Tuna, Oysters Rockefeller, Mussels and Clams. Also featured on the menu are appetizers, including Smoked Albacore and Salmon, Crabcakes, Calamari Fritti; entrée seafood salads; Bluewater Grill’s signature Clam Chowder and Lobster Bisque, a kid’s menu; specialty desserts; a full bar and extensive wine list, including California and French varietals by the bottle and glass.
For Tustin, that local integrity means a design theme by Bitton Design Group of Agoura Hills that is noticeably more cosmopolitan. The partners call it more “current” than the Newport and Redondo locations.
The Tustin Bluewater Grill seats 280, which is similar in size to the Redondo restaurant and slightly larger than the Newport Beach location. Chris Rock is the managing partner. The restaurant officially opened to the public on April 28, 2008, following a week of grand opening festivities including preview events for existing customers, the media and local VIPs.
The restaurant is now open daily for lunch and dinner. Operating hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The address is 2409 Park Avenue at The District at Tustin Legacy. Complimentary valet and self parking are available. The phone number is (714) 258-3474. Reservations are encouraged.
- Bluewater Grill ditches some of its maritime atmosphere at The District at Tustin Legacy - but not its fresh, tasty seafood!by Jessica Forsyth - Newport Beach, March 12, 2009
When The District at Tustin Legacy was built over part of the site of the former Marine Corps Air Station, the transformation was notable not only for its grandiosity, but also for its vast diversion from what it was: essentially, one of Orange County’s few remaining historic sites. Once, massive, abandoned airplane hangars dotted the property at a highly trafficked intersection on the border between Irvine and Tustin – a strange, if not interesting, landscape in the middle of what were otherwise newly constructed apartment buildings and thriving businesses. But in a place where semi-unused land space equals untapped dollars, the old air station wouldn’t last long.
On top of the rubble, the massive complex known as The District at Tustin Legacy was built, a virtual city of shopping, dining and entertainment spread over one million square feet. Open nearly two years now, the center has attracted a vast variety of large retailers (Costco, Whole Foods Market, Target) as well as smaller, local businesses like Bluewater Grill, a successful fish house with locations in Newport Beach and Redondo Beach. Yet, for companies like Bluewater Grill, the modern vibe and sheer size of the The District is a departure from their usual digs, situated on bays and harbors with boat slips out front and sunburned regulars who drop in for Happy Hour after a day out on the water. The restaurant that has billed itself as the “classic” fish house has ditched some of its maritime charm at The District – here it’s less New England-style fish house and more upscale, modern restaurant – but the menu, primarily dedicated to fresh seafood under the direction of Executive Chef Brian Hirsty, is largely unchanged from its predecessors, with the exception of some specialty Pan Asian-influenced dishes. We would have been hung up about the fact that there’s not much ocean-y about Bluewater Grill’s new Tustin location (unless you count the faux ship’s truss on the ceiling and a blown-up photograph of an upclose view of a South Pacific oyster that hangs at the back of the restaurant) if the food weren’t so tasty.
We began with one of Chef Hirsty’s latest experiments, an oyster shot shucked to order and served in a martini glass with Absolut Peppar vodka. The taste was spicy and aromatic, like an oyster-infused Bloody Mary, and if we didn’t already have cocktails, it’s likely we would have ordered several more. Continuing in the oyster vein, but ratcheted up several degrees of richness, were oysters Rockefeller, served on the half shell with creamed spinach, bacon and Romano cheese. They came out bubbling hot and covered in melted cheese – delicious, if not a bit on the heavy side; here, less is more. In both cases, the oysters stood out for their freshness and flavor, a result of Bluewater Grill’s dedication to the highest quality seafood. The oysters in particular are chosen carefully and grown in Washington State specifically for the restaurant.
As a remedy to the rich Rockefeller, we sampled the ponzu sashimi sea scallops in the shell with wasabi aioli, seaweed salad and masago (Japanese capelin roe), which were refreshing and tender, offset beautifully by the slight saltiness of the seaweed and roe. Calamari fritti followed, but with a little less fanfare than the previous dish, lacking somewhat in crunch and texture.
For entrées, we tried two of Chef Hirsty’s seasonal specialties: charbroiled barramundi and surf and turf consisting of a 14-ounce ribeye and Australian lobster tail. The former was a fantastic combination of textures and flavors, consisting of mildly flavored, flaky barramundi perfectly cooked and topped with citrus-herb beurre blanc sauce and baby tomatoes. Served over creamy mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables, it was a dish we’d go back for. Rib-eye steak, while not Bluewater Grill’s specialty, was tasty nonetheless, as was the accompanying tender lobster tail with plenty of melted butter for dipping. A bananas Foster tower was for dessert – an edible, vertical feat of vanilla wafer-crusted bananas over vanilla ice cream and a slice of banana chocolate chip bread. The tower was topped with a cinnamon banana liqueur and caramel sauce flambéed with rum and whipped cream, which fixed the dessert as one to remember and to come back for, right after the barramundi.
Despite Bluewater Grill’s new ocean-less digs, the same fresh seafood, happily, has not suffered. And even if you can’t pull up to the dock at The District location, there is still the pull of a fabulous Happy Hour (Monday through Friday) with bargain-priced cocktails and starters, including oyster shooters. And that’s always something to celebrate.
- Seafood restaurants can be hit or miss, frequently a miss, but every so often the gods of the deep smile on you, and you find a real gem. Enter Bluewater Grill; “a seafood restaurant, not just a restaurant that serves seafood” – in the words of the head chef, and it’s an important distinction to make.by Miles Heggi - July 15, 2010 at 11:00am
At this restaurant, in the wee hours of the morning, the daily delivery of fish arrives, and the chefs taste everything. If something isn’t up to their exacting standards, they send it back! This kind of integrity is what will make or break an eating establishment, and it definitely “made” Bluewater Grill.
The interior is a contemporary marriage of dark woods and subtle nautical themes: No life preservers or fishing nets on the wall here. The lighting is low and has a modern, soft glow. The décor is rich but tastefully restrained, with black and white photographs of fisherman and their catches, sea-blue tile mosaics, elegant glass line floats hanging from lamps, and a strikingly colorful photograph of a clam from the South Pacific. You’re going to like sitting in this restaurant.
And people do like being here. Bluewater Grill is popular for mixers, private parties, and corporate events. There are special tastings on the second Tuesday of every month that may feature oysters, high-quality beef, or on the day we went, a clambake. During our visit, there was a lively group who had reserved the patio to view a slideshow of wedding pictures. It’s clear that Bluewater has embraced the community, and discerning diners have returned the favor.
The important part is the food. We had ponzu scallops, an Ahi poki tower, the cedar plank salmon, and the seared Ahi. Now, Dave and I both eat a lot of fish, being sushi fanatics. This meal was incredible. The seafood here was on another level. The ponzu scallops were delicate and tangy, chilled in clamshells with a little squeeze of lemon. The poki tasted great, with tuna that wasn’t over-seasoned; it’s an old trick at sushi places to give you older fish that’s heavily spicy to mask the flavor, but this tuna was perfectly fresh. Dave’s seard Ahi was also delicious and minimally seasoned to allow the fish to speak for itself. My cedar plank salmon was light and moist, with that smoky flavor just locked right into the meat. The head chef shared with us that a lot of cedar planks for sale don’t have the fragrant, distinctive qualities that really impart great flavor, so Bluewater has cedar planks specially made just for them. And you can taste it.
On top of all this, there’s also a great happy hour from 3:30-6:30, where you can get $4 drinks, and high-end appetizers like shrimp ceviche lettuce wraps and a tenderloin tease with horseradish. Also, being adjacent to an AMC theater, you can get movie tickets for $7.95! I’ll be coming back very soon, and all it will take is one meal here to make you feel the same.
- Passion, especially for food, comes in all shapes and sizes.At Bluewater Grill in Tustin, it is dressed as a rail-thin chef with a perpetual smile, endless knowledge, and energy so unflagging, it’s hard to keep up.
‘I recognize that not everyone is enthralled by food. I don’t understand it, but I recognize it,’ says Chef Brian Hirsty, with a grin.
Self-described as ‘the only skinny chef you can trust,’ Hirsty believes in simple, fresh fare. He also believes in providing new experiences, and has made that a hallmark of Bluewater Grill, which, incidentally, he defines as ‘a seafood restaurant, not a restaurant that serves seafood.’
His passion starts at the source, insisting on buying direct from local fishermen and farms. He explains, ‘With direct feedback, I can control size, harvesting methods and finishing techniques.’ He cites opah and moonfish as two of the more exotic fresh-from-the-sea ingredients he uses. ‘Most people won’t try seafood unless they believe in the freshness, the quality, and believe that it’s something they are going to enjoy,’ he says.
‘We never compromise on quality,’ echoes General Manager Chris Rock, offering the example of the Catalina Island Harpooned Swordfish. Caught between August and October, these 360-pound fish are not line-caught, which can cause stress and the release of toxins, degrading the quality of the fish. Instead, they are killed by harpoon and processed almost immediately on day boats, then rushed to Bluewater Grill.
To signify its arrival, a swordfish is rolled through the restaurant during its busiest time, in what Rock deems ‘the best marketing ever.’ And the fresh selections don’t stop there.
The Crab Cakes are Atlantic red crabmeat that are pan sauteed until golden brown, then served with cajun remoulade.
The Salt & Pepper Shrimp are whole shell-on shrimp that have been flash fried until crispy, and seasoned with garlic and ginger (hint: you eat them whole—shell and all).
The Ponzu Sashimi Sea Scallops are served in the shell, topped with wasabi aioli, seaweed salad and masago.
The Cedar Plank Salmon (click for recipe) is seared in sake and soy, marinated with a fruit Beurre Blanc, and served on a cedar plank that was milled to Hirsty’s specifications.
The Thai Green Curry Mussels & Clam dish is simmered in a cilantro curry coconut milk sauce.
The Tempura Yam Crusted Halibut, with hints of Thai basil and mint, is served with a glass noodle salad and sweet chili glaze.
And the Local Swordfish—a house specialty—is served with a citrus stonefruit salsa.
One more, because the Baked Stuffed Maine Lobster (click for recipe) is a classic: Lobster stuffed with a buttered panko bread crumb and shrimp stuffing, and a must for any lobster lover.
Finish with a spectacular Bananas Foster and you will have had an experience. And, for Bluewater Grill, that’s what it’s all about.
Hirsty brings his own experiences and what he calls ‘cuisines I’ve come to love’ into his menu items. He says, ‘I like to take the ethnic influences and make them my own.’
Unsurprising for a chef who was cooking Kung Pao chicken in his first wok at age 10, and mastered Thai curry pasta at 15 years old.
‘I like exploring new things,” he says. “If you are passionate about food, you live for taste sensations—something that inspires you to something you haven’t felt before,’ he adds.
Hirsty keeps it authentic by knowing the cuisines, understanding the background and what is true to form. And, he is bold about capitalizing on the expertise of his employees. ‘We have Latin talent already in the kitchen; it would be a shame not to use it,’ he says.
There is no question that the team of Hirsty and Rock share a passion for their work that extends itself to their employees.
‘I am blessed to have hired my entire team,’ Rock says. ‘I hired people like myself, who have passion for food and are comfortable being in front of people. I was willing to hire people even without serving experience because they cared so much about the customer’s experience. Of course, we countered that with an intense training course,’ some of it even offered online. Now, he says, ‘People are so happy here, we can’t get rid of them!’
Hirsty adds, ‘One of the things I take pride in is raising the skills of our people.’ He points out that almost all of his current line cooks started as dishwashers. ‘We elevate their quality of life; that means a lot.’
Rock believes that Bluewater’s ‘out of the box’ marketing efforts, including employee contests and taste-tests, help build energy and momentum for the team. ‘We cultivate customers through our staff,’ he expands. ‘They teach us and the public.”
He adds, “A lot of people are scared of seafood, so it’s essential to teach. I consider it a direct way of marketing, hands on, with that person. You begin to see the emotion. You can see their taste buds change, and how they get overwhelmed with new flavors.’
‘The look of satisfaction on a customer’s face—that makes it worth it,’ says Hirsty. ‘But what we live for is that empty plate. You can tell me what you want, or what you liked, but I’m looking at the plate.’
As a ‘front of the house kind of chef,’ it is Hirsty’s personal mission to break his guests’ inhibitions and get them to try new things.
‘I like to talk about the food items,’ he says. ‘They say they’ve never tried that. So, of course, I’m going to go get a sample for them to try it. The best way is to take out a beautiful plate and lay it in front of them.’
As Rock demonstrates the proper way to eat the Salt & Pepper Shrimp—traditionally eaten whole—he adds, ‘When people think seafood, they think texture or taste. There is a stigma on the tentacles. So, we have fun with you. When we have fun, you’re more likely to try it.’
He continues, ‘This is a form of entertainment. People are spending money on entertainment. We can’t forget that’s what dining out is.’
Performance is second nature to Rock, who was actually a theatre arts major. ‘Now I’m on stage 60 hours a week,’ he says.
Rock has been with the company for 10 years, though this particular restaurant is just two years old. ‘Both owners,’ he says, ‘have seafood backgrounds. One is in Connecticut, and grew up fishing. One is from Australia and owns a harpoon fishing boat. They are into anything that makes better fishing. They are pioneers.’
In Hirsty’s words, these weren’t ‘two guys who opened a hotdog stand and decided to do seafood.’ The restaurant has deep roots in the seafood industry.
Hirsty, too, is ‘an artist at heart.’ He is ‘the kind of guy who sits down with a pad of paper at night for all the ideas that come.’ The result is a menu full of carefully constructed creations that are both full of flavor and visually stunning.
‘Whether it’s teaching my people, or teaching my guests—getting them to try things they haven’t tried before—those are the things that satisfy me,’ says Hirsty. ‘I like to break down their inhibitions. I love to give people the passion I have.’
See the passion. Better yet, taste it for yourself.
- The Arizona Republic is excited and already writing about the new Bluewater location in Phoenix.by Howard Seftel - Oct. 9, 2009 10:36 AM
The Valley's seafood fans have a new fishing hole where they can drop their lines. It's Bluewater Grill, the fourth branch of a small southern California outfit which opens today (Oct. 9) on Camelback Road. It takes over the spot that used to house the Fish Market, which was sold last month after a 23-year run.
The ownership change isn't all that drastic: Bluewater Grill co-founder Richard Staunton is the son-in-law of Fish Market co-founder AC Duckett, Jr.
General Manager Larry Macias calls the Bluewater Grill the Fish Market's "cooler cousin." Gone is the Fish Market's casual downstairs/white-tablecloth upstairs dichotomy. The downstairs area remains casual, and it includes both a sushi bar and seafood bar. Upstairs is reserved for private parties and banquets.
The daily-changing menu features whatever is fresh, and the company says that over the course of a year it carries some 40 different species.
Look for starters like clam chowder ($5.95, bowl), jumbo prawn cocktail ($11.50), crab cakes ($12.95) and a duo of smoked salmon and albacore ($9.50).
Purists can get their fish simply grilled. The catch often includes sand dabs ($16.25), halibut ($22.55), swordfish ($22.95), ahi ($23) and rainbow trout ($16.95). These plates come with two sides.
You can also get seafood dishes like cioppino ($19.95), lobster and shrimp ravioli ($20.95), tempura yam-crusted halibut ($24.95) and cedar plank salmon in a sake and soy marinade ($20.95).
And if you're into deep-fat frying, you can crunch into beer-battered fish and chips ($15.25), panko fried shrimp ($17.75) and Ipswich fried clams ($22.50).
Details: Bluewater Grill, 1720 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, (602) 277-3474. Hours: Lunch and dinner, 11:30 a.m. to 11p.m., Monday through Saturday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday.
- Bluewater Grill introduces new entrées and a wide variety of fresh seafood “to go!”August 2011
Fast approaching its third anniversary in Phoenix, Bluewater Grill has become synonymous with exceptionally fresh seafood, stylish interiors and a monthly calendar full of chef dinners, wine tastings and special events. During the summer, the restaurant is also recognized for its retail market, where diners can find a wide variety of fresh seafood, sold by the pound. According to Executive Chef Andrew Capek, salmon, swordfish, mahi mahi, and even California white seabass is now available and perfect for summertime grilling, served with fresh shellfish, vegetables or one of the restaurant’s signature salads. Packed in ice and paired with your favorite beverage at home, Bluewater Grill’s fresh seafood makes a great “to go” meal for family and friends!
What happens if you don’t see a specific seafood you want? Just ask! Bluewater Grill can package any of the seafood currently offered on its menu or order the exact seafood you are looking for from its suppliers. The restaurant also offers great chicken, steaks and pork chops!
Daily lunch and dinner menus feature more than 40 varieties of fresh seafood and shellfish per year, sourced from local fishermen and farmers worldwide. Lately, Chef Andrew has been introducing a few menu items, including new mahi mahi sliders, which feature grilled mahi mahi served with a roasted jalapeno aioli, roasted roma tomato, baby arugula and crispy fried shallots on a duo of sweet Hawaiian rolls. For dinner, he has introduced a California white seabass entrée, perfectly paired with a glass of Stuhlmuller Chardonnay, as shown on the cover. This light, white fish is served with a sauté of cumin-scented diced potatoes, baby spinach and diced tomatos, in a pea coulis with housepreserved lemon.
From 4:00pm to 7:00pm every day, diners at Bluewater Grill can choose from five menu items, served from the restaurant’s new Early Catch Menu. Entrées such as beer battered fish & chips, seafood marinara, bay shrimp Louie salad and grilled swordfish skewers, are $12.95 and include a choice of New England or Manhattan clam chowder or a mixed greens salad, and fresh sourdough bread.
The restaurant, perfectly suited for either an elegant dinner out or a casual family gathering, also features a classic 13-seat oyster bar, contemporary sushi bar, kid’s menu (featuring peanut butter and jelly sushi rolls), full bar and wine list, and daily happy hour specials from 3:30pm to 6:30pm Monday through Friday, and 12:00pm to 5:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. Bluewater Grill also offers Reverse Happy Hour every evening from 8:30pm to close.
Bluewater Grill is the perfect place to meet for a business luncheon, celebrate happy hour with friends, or have dinner with the family!
Located at 1720 East Camelback Road, at the intersection of Camelback and Highway 51, Bluewater Grill is open Monday through Thursday from 11:00am to 10:00pm, Friday and Saturday from 11:00am to 10:30pm, and Sunday from 12:00pm to 10:00pm.
For more information, call (602) 277-FISH (3474).
- Bluewater Avalon serves fresh seafood in an historic waterfront location in the Avalon harbor. Begin with Mediterranean ahi salad and the baked crab and artichoke dip topped with jack cheese and accompanied by tortilla chips. If you're looking for a simple meal of grilled or sautéed seafood, you’ll find it here. Choose selections like local red snapper or wild swordfish with sides of dill rice, scalloped potatoes, seasonal vegetables or spinach. Other mains include beer-battered fish ‘n’ chips; linguine with jumbo prawns, white wine and garlic; and a San Francisco-style cioppino melding shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels and crab in a marinara sauce. The oyster bar has a good variety and the wine list is wide-ranging and fairly priced. A variety of handcrafted cocktails and sharable pitchers are also available.
- Dear Chris,
I just felt it was extremely necessary to contact you regarding your restaurant in The District. I have never been to that particular area and certainly not to the restaurant but was invited to attend an event there last night. (11/4/10). Other than being overwhelmed by the size of the parking lot I have to tell you that is was a wonderful experience!! Your wait staff was completely beyond compare and the food was outstanding! I was with a large party yet my drink never was empty nor did I have to worry with used dishes in front of me! I never heard the waitress' name but I can tell you this, she is a HUGE asset to you!!
I will most definitely be back and bring friends! Thank you for providing such lovely evening for us all!!
My family and I celebrated my mother's birthday at your Tustin restaurant on Saturday, March 13, 2010, and we want to extend our gratitude to each of the employees who contributed to our fulfilling experience. Most importantly, we fully appreciate the attentiveness, generosity, and humor of our server, Janice. Her constant presence uplifted us and gave us joy, for her personable personality allowed her to understand our running jokes, and she even added her own, which integrated seamlessly. It is an honor to be surrounded by considerate employees whenever one goes out, and the Bluewater Grill has such a topnotch group. Thank you for an enjoyable time.
Peace and blessings
I wanted to thank you and your staff again for a great new experience for my husband and I. Today was my birthday and my husband wanted to take me out to a nice seafood restaurant. The Bluewater Grill had amazing reviews and were on so many great dining lists that even though my husband doesn't typically eat seafood - he thought let's try something new.
It's been such a long time to have the kind of experience that we had in your restaurant - to us - it is not enough for a restaurant to have great food - it means the world to us how friendly everyone was - the hostess, Allison, yourself and of course our server Rodrigo... We loved him...he answered all our questions...offered great suggestions...my husband loved the swordfish...that would a first... We were impressed by the GREAT ATTITUDES...we felt like everyone was happy to serve...We felt the food was AMAZING!
Also just the whole enviroment - kid friendly, lounge area by the restrooms, a buzz or energy in the air...I almost felt like I was at a friend's house...I totally look forward to dining at your establishment in the future. THANKS AGAIN!
Had a great dinner at Newport last night. Swordfish special was awesome. Just bought a 17 Whaler, so we used the dock. Nikki was our waitress and did a super job. Really, everything was perfect, pats on the back all around.
PS – before I fell into this fishing gig – I spent 30 years in foodservice; restaurants, contract catering and airline. I would tell you if it wasn’t up to par, because I think you would want to know.
Also, thank you for the Gift Certificates for the Masters.
John Willis, Manager, Balboa Angling Club
The new Bluewater Grill in Phoenix is absolutely outstanding – from its warm, inviting exterior (including its re-designed terrace), to its convivial indoor ambience, to its extraordinary menu and food preparation. Gracious, individual attention is customary from the entire staff, including the manager and head chef. Absolutely no detail is missed, from special procedures to eliminate all fish odors, to the rice side-dish blended of five rice grains specially gotten from Minnesota and mixed with shaved nuts and dried cranberries in a chilled medley not to be found elsewhere except the other Bluewater Grills in California, to the premium quality of fish and crustaceans perfectly prepared. This is the very first time I’ve been personally motivated to write a review – because I can’t resist. The Bluewater Grill is one of the finest dining experiences I’ve had in a very long time. Kudos to the new owners"
John in Tempe, AZ
We were longtime customers of the Fish Market (and Victoria's Station before that). Last night we had dinner at the most recent incarnation - The Blue Water Grill. The service was as excellent as the food. The restaurant was familiar but better. Well done.
just wanted to thank you for a wonderful evening,everything was so perfect the table the FOOD,everything!you made our night very special for Elliott & Kayla.
everyone loved the food and the service was great, loved our waitress.wished I could have met you so i could have thanked you in person...it was just a fabulous evening!
Thank you again,
We have been to your restaurant on two separate occasions over the last couple of months and wanted to make a few comments. As always the food was wonderful! On both occasions our server was Janice and I have to tell you she did a FABULOUS job!! Myself along with one other person in my party (which was my birthday) were servers or restaurant managers for 20 years. I would have to say that both of our visits we had the BEST service that we have ever received. She was very attentive, personable and most of all had a wonderful attitude and seemed like she thoroughly enjoys her job. I am sure we will be making another visit to your restaurant soon and we will definitely request her section if she is working.
Cheryl, Project Coordinator
- Voted Best Seafood in Orange county 2005 by the Readers of the Orange County Register "Hidden Gem"Elmer Dills - KIEV AM 870 Food Critic
There's so much to like about this dockside spot for fresh seafood. The staff is enthusiastic, the setting is versatile (choose from the lounge, oyster bar, dining room, or waterfront patio), the prices are fair and the food is skillfully prepared. Straightforward seafood is the specialty here, high quality fish simply grilled with no fussy sauces or contrivances. Freshness is a moral code here, so the menu changes daily and on occasion, the fish are delivered right on the dock and carried to the kitchen via the dining room. It's kinda fun.
Diners will fall for Grill's seafood hook, line and sinker - Daily Pilot, May 2003
The restaurant is a clean-cut New England-style fish house with paper placemats, plentiful portions, affordable prices and an experienced chef. Sources for Bluewater Grill's fish and shellfish are widespread: New Zealand orange roughy, Pacific snapper, Idaho Trout, Chilean seabass, Australian lobster tail California Swordfish, Hawaiian ahi, Main lobster and Pacific shellfish. All are flown in and treated like the precious cargo they are: iced, chilled, handled minimally and mesquite grilled to order or blackened if you like.
Fifi's Best - Orange County Business Journal
Take one spot with a view of the marina and serve good, fresh seafood and you might have a winner. The formula has worked for Bluewater Grill. Freshness is their password.
A Matter of Taste - Costa D'Oro
Step into the casual atmosphere of old Cape Cod. The warm gleaming browns of the polished teak and mahogany woods cover the walls, floors and "shuttered" windows. Nostalgic and current black and white photographs starring fish and locals decorate the walls. The big fishing boats anchor at the edge of the patio. Out-of-towners sipping a glass of wine are amazed to observe the day's catch of swordfish being winched over the side and hauled to the kitchen to be prepared for the night's dinner. Bluewater is dedicated to serving absolutely fresh fish and seafood in all its glory.
Dining on the Edge - Orange Coast magazine
Bluewater Grill is a solid newcomer with five guest slips for boating diners. It offers a harbor view from every seat in the restaurant, as well as the patio. This is an Orange County original. With it's solid menu and "kid-friendly" atmosphere, this restaurant has ensured its place with the locals.
A Freshened Look - OC Metro
There is no doubt that Bluewater Grill's specialties are found in its extensive list of fresh fish and seafood entrees from across the globe. All are charbroiled to perfection and served with two side dishes.
- It's refreshing -- and increasingly rare -- to walk into a restaurant like the Bluewater Grill.By Greer Wylder, Daily Pilot
It's not hip, cocktail-driven or soon to go out of style. It's just a casual and classic American seafood restaurant that will satisfy your craving for sweet Dungeness crab, sand dabs -- California comfort food -- and a cup of steaming clam chowder.
The Bluewater Grill offers another treat that can be in short supply these days: a friendly, upbeat staff that provides great service at its two locations: on the waterfront in Newport Beach and at South Coast Plaza Village in Santa Ana.
On the reasonably priced menu, you'll find more than 100 items: oyster bar favorites, salads, mesquite-grilled entrees, classic seafood fare and even specialties -- including wild king salmon grilled on an individual cedar plank with fresh dill and chive cream, and seasonal vegetables ($19.75); and Romano-crusted Alaskan halibut with olive Provencal sauce served with sauteed spinach and parsley potatoes ($21.95).
And if you're from New England, you'll finally feel at home biting into a hard-to-find fried Ipswich clam ($16 to $18).
There's also a succulent Mexican white prawn cocktail ($8.95), a cup of hearty New England or Manhattan clam chowder ($3.95), or a mesquite grilled catfish dinner with choice of two side dishes ($12.90). If you're in the mood, you can go all out and indulge in a live Maine lobster dinner ($28.90), or Alaskan king crab legs ($34.20).
Lunch is priced fairly too. Fresh swordfish tacos ($7.75), the mouth-watering tuna melt ($7.95), and the grilled mahi mahi sandwich ($7.95) are good choices.
Restaurant veteran Jim Ulcickas and his business partner Rick Staunton -- a native of Australia -- opened the first Bluewater Grill five years ago. Their goal was to start a restaurant that was affordable and family-oriented, and that never sacrificed quality for profit. They chose to concentrate on seafood, because they believe it's healthy and underused in the American diet.
Ulcickas, 44, born in Massachusetts and reared in Maine and Connecticut, is a true-blue New Englander who comes by the restaurant business naturally. His stepfather owned the Friendly Ice Cream Co., and Ulcickas watched that business grow into to a 650-location restaurant operation in New England.
"He had a great influence on my interest in restaurants," Ulcickas said. "It was a logical move for me."
At the tender age of 15, Ulcickas' entrepreneurial spirit took off. With his sister, he started a summer business making Harbor Bars, a chocolate-dipped ice cream sandwich. The first year, they sold 6,000 bars. Five years later, their annual sales topped 600,000 bars.
Ulcickas' stepfather eventually took over the company, but the teen's eagerness and ability to start a successful enterprise helped him get into Dartmouth University.
Ulcickas has worked for large restaurant companies since college, including some chain conglomerates such as Black Angus, Tutto Mare, Prego and Spoons.
He brought all those experiences to the Bluewater Grill, making sure his fish comes from the best sources -- including Santa Monica Seafood -- and directly from oyster and shellfish coves and co-ops where the quality is the core value.
"You've seen those pretty pink shrimp rounds in the stores," Ulcickas said. "If you compare that shrimp to our Mexican prawn cocktail, they don't even look like they're in the same family."
Bluewater Grill gets a kick out of celebrating seasonal seafood throughout the year. Specials are prepared by talented chefs, Guillermo Caceres in Newport and Brian Hirsty at South Coast Village. They roll out the red carpet for soft shell crabs in June, local harpooned swordfish are the "it" fish in August, and local spiny lobster will be the star of the show from Oct. 12 through Dec. 1.
The chefs prepare spiny lobster three ways: split and grilled with garlic and butter ($27.95); served as a surf and turf dinner with mesquite grilled flatiron steak ($28.95); and lobster pasta ($18.95).
And if you visit their website, you'll find a calendar of events for wine and cheese tastings, oyster tastings and a festive lobster feed and clambake. Upcoming events include an East Coast oyster tasting and champagne taste on Oct. 11, and a Pacific Northwest oyster and wine pairing event on Nov. 8.
Lucky for everyone, Bluewater Grill is not just about seafood. Even diners who wouldn't dare touch fish can choose from pastas, cheeseburgers, rib-eye steak, prime rib and lamb chops. And it serves the same quality meats as other high-end steakhouses at lower prices.
Both Bluewater locations share the same menus and traditional seafood restaurant decor, yet each has its individuality and perks. At the waterfront location in Cannery Village, you can enjoy views at an outdoor patio, or dock your boat and take a delicious party platter of seared ahi, smoked fish or any seafood on a cruise. Entertainment comes from a local band, MPG, that plays classic rock, blues and other favorites Friday and Saturday evenings. A brunch menu is available Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Theatergoers and diners at South Coast Village can take advantage of a free air-conditioned shuttle ride to and from the Orange County Performing Arts Center or South Coast Repertory Theater. There's also patio dining and rooms available for private events.
Happy hour is from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. A children's menu is available ($3.95 to $4.95).
- The results are in and Bluewater Grill has been voted the Best Seafood Restaurant in Orange County!
Best of Citysearch 2005
The results are in and Bluewater Grill has been voted the Best Seafood Restaurant in Orange County!
Citysearch is one of the largest on-line restaurant search engines!
- Elizabeth Evans, Food Writer for the Orange County Register and many other Southern California Publications names Bluewater Grill the Best Seafood in Southern California!By ELIZABETH EVANS - Special to the Register
Bluewater Grill - On a recent wet Saturday my family climbed into a deep booth and enjoyed a lazy lunch while looking at raindrops falling on the bay and million-dollar yachts.
The crab and shrimp Louie is generously portioned. There's also a fine mahi-mahi sandwich at lunch and hard-to-find fried Ipswich littleneck clams.
I also like the fish-of-the-day options that can be served simply with a squirt of lemon and rice pilaf or the very well-prepared sauteed spinach on the side. The New England clam chowder is also worth noting. It's thick and creamy, and loaded with chewy clams and cubes of tender potato. Eat it with the requisite and substantial sourdough bread.