2787 Maplecrest Road
Fort Wayne, IN 46815-7037
The outside of the restaurant is rather plain, though stylish with it's black and white accents. It's lack of personality does nothing to prepare the customer for what to expect about his upcoming dining experience, nor does it do anything to welcome approaching customers - in fact, I waited in the parking lot until another "Elle" arrived fearing it might not be open or it might be a "hole in the wall" type of place. The exterior does not say "Tavern" let alone "fun, exciting, happening". It certainly doesn't do anything to peak the curiosity of those who travel passed it daily - maybe not the best marketing strategy, especially after a re-fit.
There is a quaint outdoor seating area (obviously not in use during our February visit); however, we were told that it's typically packed with smokers during warmer weather. Bummer - you know how the Elles enjoy alfresco dining.
The Blu City Tavern is formerly the Blu Tomato. The restaurant recently underwent a renovation and re-launch. Having not had the opportunity to dine at the Blu Tomato, I'm unable to compare the decor to the former, but now - it's a mix of farmhouse country and clean modern. The entrance is very much country charm with its furniture and accessories, but the black wall paint and shiny fork/spoon silver accents keep it a bit more mod.
Further inside the restaurant is the wood burning oven which is more of the warm country feeling, but juxtaposed with more black paint, black faux-leather covered booths and black wooden accents.
Here is part of their appetizer menu -
We opted for the former Catablu favorite - Flat Bread and Olive Spread. This used to be complimentary, but no longer . . . it's now a $3 appetizer. It's not that the price is excessive, but the Elles agree - it's not something someone would "take the leap" and buy it if they've never experienced the joy that comes from partaking in this unique pre-meal delight. In customer service, there is something called "The Pickle Principle" (click HERE to learn more). This principle comes from a deli-style restaurant that presented each sandwich with an amazing pickle. Customers chose this one restaurant because they knew they could get a great pickle. In competition for the customer dollar, a pickle was a small expense for the restaurant compared to repeat business, customer satisfaction, and customer referrals. One day, the eatery changed it's "free pickle" policy and began imposing a charge for seconds - this resulted in unhappy customers, loss of business, and negative publicity. Having just a month ago had free olive spread and now it's $3 - it might be in the interest of the restaurant to determine if this could be their "pickle". Even if there aren't free "seconds" - maybe a small portion could be served free and a larger portion could be on the appetizer menu. Worth considering - especially in this economy.
On this evening, we enjoyed the olive spread, but found the bread sticks to taste a bit stale and too stout. In the past, we've had a more flaky, cracker-like bread stick that compliments the dip perfectly. Despite the new charge and the displeasure with bread, it's still a very unique option in Fort Wayne and we strongly encourage you to give it a try!
We also ordered the Hummus - YUM! What a beautiful presentation - with it's rainbow colored veggies and triangle pizza bread surrounding the crock of Feta topped Hummus. This was most definitely a refreshing choice to the standard assortment of appetizers available at most other eateries. This healthier, lighter but filling option is tremendous and should be tried by everyone. Allen L had never had hummus and thought it was "pretty good especially since it is healthy". We all agree the pizza bread was phenomenal! Maybe the pizza bread would be a great pairing with the olive spread???
On the back of their awkwardly tall menus is their specialty drink list. There are some interesting options; however, the $10 sticker shock is a bit off-putting. We did learn that Mondays feature a discount on martinis, but we were there on a Thursday evening - sigh. Allen L started off with a Raspberry Truffle martini (left) while I began with a Pomegranate martini (right).
My Pomegranate martini was awesome -except if you're looking to have a temporary alcohol escape - this won't get the job done. It was very much like fruit punch and delicious. Here's a close up of the navel orange slice floating on the tasty sea of red liquor. I enjoyed the flavors but regret both the calories and the price tag. This is a good $7 martini - no chance it's worth $10 (which is more than the Berry White at Eddie Merlots which we consider "the gold standard in martinis)!
Here is a close up of the Raspberry Truffle. You'll notice the delicately shaved chocolate atop the frothy "adult chocolate milk" - yum! In my brief tasting, I didn't notice a strong raspberry flavor. Allen L was also disappointed in the lack of alcohol especially given the price. This may be an $8 martini, but again it's not worth $10.
Our server, Hayley, recommended the Sakemoto martini and Adams L took her up on the suggestion. Adams L really enjoyed the drink - far more than the rest of us. It's simplistic presentation with the subtle fruit flavor married with a potent alcohol punch. The Sakemoto was $9.
SALADS & BREAD:
Allen L's meal came with a Tavern salad and a small yeast roll (small indeed, the roll was embarrassingly tiny). She said the very colorful salad was good and very flavorful. She enjoyed the "poppyseedish" dressing (the menu indicates it's a Creamy Roasted Garlic dressing). Much care was taken to finely chop the veggies into bite sized pieces. This was a side salad which we were told is just a little smaller than their "small" size menu salads.
Allen L selected the Spaghetti with chicken, shrimp and sausage, roasted mushrooms (she opted to skip those) in a creamy alfredo sauce. This $15.95 dish was extremely disappointing. For starters - why is an alfredo served with spaghetti and not fettuccine? Allen L said that if she were blind folded she would not be able to tell if she was eating the chicken, the shrimp, or the sausage. Each of the proteins was bland and boring. She suggested blackening the chicken chunks (and maybe making them strips instead of chunks), using spicy sausage (instead of something that tasted like breakfast sausage), and using larger shrimp (the handful of popcorn sized shrimp was VERY unimpressive). The palately boring entree could use some sundried tomatoes or red pepper flakes to spice it up a bit. Despite all the suggestions for improvement, she felt the sauce was the best part of the dish. She was so disappointed in her selection, she did not elect to take the remaining half home.
Adams L selected the recommendation of our server once again when it came time to her entree. Adams L chose the Southern Fried Chicken Sandwich, buttermilk dipped, white cheddar, tavern slaw, tomato, buttered bun. She swapped out the side of regular french fries with what our server called "The BEST sweet potato fries of all time!". Let me start by saying that Adams L did enjoy the multitude of flavors and textures that were going on with this sandwich. It is certainly a unique selection not likely found at any other eatery in the FW metro area. The sweet potato fries are cut like regular fries instead of the more common steak fry cut found elsewhere. They were seasoned with salt throughout and were prepared perfectly - crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and most importantly, not mushy.
This messy sandwich was served on a butter grilled bun. After cutting it in half, you can easily see that the chicken breast (lower right corner of the corner of the bottom bun) is less than half the width of the bun - pretty disappointing.
I chose another unique option, the Brat Burger featuring a bratwurst patty with sauerkraut, caramelized onions, whole grain mustard sauce on a Bavarian pretzel bun. I elected to swap out the side of fries with what I thought were just onion rings, but due to my lack of reading detail were actually tabascco onion rings - which we all STRONGLY disliked! Although this wasn't highly recommended by our server, she said it wasn't her favorite because of the sauerkraut. Being that my ancestors are from Germany, it's in my blood to like brats and sauerkraut. I thought this sandwich sounded like such a great idea. It was, in fact, very good. I enjoyed it very much; however, it wasn't anything special. Any Hilshire farms brat and canned sauerkraut would taste the same. The pretzel roll sounded special but really didn't taste anything like a pretzel - it was mostly just a sturdy bun.
I cut the sandwich in half - you can see the delicious whole grain mustard. Delicious, but not something I will be rushing back to order again in the near future.
They had several choices that sounded terrific.
But, once again, Hayley made an outstanding recommendation - we went with her fav "Warm Apple Tart". Let me just say that this is very likely the best dessert we have ever eaten. We cut it into 6 pieces and each ate 2 -we even licked our plates -the homemade caramel sauce WAS.THAT.GOOD! The buttery flakey crust was prepared so perfectly - it was light, but flavorful. The apples were sliced so precisely that they danced in our mouths with ease. The homemade caramel sauce is hands down worth the drive over to this restaurant all by itself. Honestly, I cannot think of any adjectives to describe this dessert that would remotely do it justace. It's devine - heavenly - extremely well prepared. The scoop of cinnamon ice cream on top is just like the cherry atop a sundae - a perfect compliment. It's the perfect dessert - it's packed with flavor without delivering a heaviness at the end of the meal. You definitely HAVE to head over to Blu City Tavern right away for this dessert.
It was prepared, literally, in front of us. That's Ryan using his magical wood burning oven wand to perfect our apple tart. See that round dough thing in the oven - yep - that's where the "amazingness" begins.
We had exceptional service. Definitely ask to be seated in Hayley's section and you'll be well taken care of. She was patient, knowledgeable, and enthusiastically ready to provide customers with a great experience. She kept our water glasses full, kept the pace of the meal comfortable, and made outstanding recommendations for everything from our drinks to entrees to dessert. Hayley had asked if we wanted to meet the owner, Michael, which we thought would be fun. Michael came to our table. We explained that we had driven far and that we had actually tried to come to this restaurant a couple of weeks earlier only to find out it was closed. Michael was nice and greeted us kindly, but could really benefit from some "above and beyond" customer service training. Adams L was seated next to a hole in the studs and was experiencing a severe cold draft on her shoulder. We pointed this out to the owner who said, "We'll have to get that fixed." Do you think?!?! Well . . . what about doing something about it right then and there - nothing else, how about asking if we would like reseated in the very uncrowded restaurant? Other options could have included, especially when we stated we drove a great distance to dine there not once, but twice in the last month. Knowing that we are having a GNO, might provoke some owners/managers to do a little something special to guarantee the evening is a great one for us and ensure our repeat business (free appetizer, first round of drinks half price or on the house, free dessert, etc). Nope - not here! I don't want it to sound like we're looking for the free handout because that's DEFINITELY NOT the case, but many owners/managers go out of their way to take care of customers . . . it's called good customer service. No worries, since we were not made to feel special - we won't be rushing back again. There are far other more delicious places with far better prices where we feel far more valued.
Ultimately there was nothing seriously wrong with the restroom at the BCT; however, knowing that it was just closed for renovations, I would have expected things to be at their most pristine state they could ever hope to be . . . definitely not the case. Here is the air vent from the ladies' room - a little paint would surely go a long way to giving the appearance that A.) you care, and B.) your restaurant is clean and sanitary.
This is the light above the 3rd/4th stall in the ladies' room - that dark smudge is a dust bunny big enough to choke a cow. Really? What's the kitchen look like (no one knows now since I understand that in the renovation a wall was put up to block it from public view). For some, these restroom photos might seem hypocritical and they probably are. But my bill was $50 - I can spend that at any establishment . . . the little things matter!
This restaurant now calls itself a Tavern so it should, in all fairness, be compared to other Taverns. It seems to differ from other Tavern-type restaurants in that the drinks are far more pricey, but offers a pleasant assortment of food options not typically found at other eateries. Although we would not rush to return, we will definitely find our way back to savor the Warm Apple Tart. The 2 other Elles give this 2.5 out of 5 (I'm might be inclined to rate it a 3).
Until the next bite -
2787 Maplecrest Road
Fort Wayne, IN 46802-3709
no known website
This gem has been in Fort Wayne for quite some time, but I wonder how many people know what is inside. This is a treasure in a part of town (on Broadway, across from Mad Anthony Brewery, immediately next to George's International Market) one would not expect to find such a bake good paradise.
When you enter the door, all of your senses are thrown into overload. Visually, it appears you have just stepped into a quaint European bakery. The olfactory is overwhelmed by the tantalizing aroma of countless choices. English is not the first language of most of the customers and employees, so the ears are treated to the romantic articulations of foreign tongues (primarily Spanish). Although touching is prohibited, your hands get to "feel" each pastry through the use of the tongs. Upon entering, you pick up a pair of tongs and metal tray. You use your tongs to pick up the goodies you wish to purchase and place them on a tray. Although the trays seem rather large initially, they fill up quickly as one goody after another finds its way into your life.
This display case features individual cake slices (about 25 different varieties), donuts (about 15 different types), and concha bread (at least 8 different flavors and sizes) looks out into the parking lot. Doesn't it just transport you to lil' Italy or a Parisian storefront?
I call this section "The Cookie Cart" - but don't for one minute think this is all of the cookies. No way, there are about 30 other types along the other wall. Need a cookie assortment for a party - these cookies are .15-.50 each . . . and you can buy just one or 100. Got a sweet tooth, but don't want to be tempted by buying a dozen cookies or whole cake from the big grocery store - swing in George's for just one piece of cake or just one cookie . . . and leave with change from your dollar bill!
This row of pastries below is a bit of more authentic Hispanic treats. Unfortunately, for those of us who are uneducated about foreign delights, they do not have information labels describing what each item is. That would be MOST helpful to us "foreigners" and with the fair trade this place does, the employees do not have a lot of time to answer questions. We asked questions to other customers who took great pride in explaining things to us (though, the English was a bit too broken to fully understand). Once the rush was over, we were able to talk with the cashier who was very helpful. She too took great pride in teaching us about the customary treats of her home land.
Look at these amazing cakes - baked fresh at this bakery! Unbelievable. You'll find many of the same confections at places like Fresh Market for $1.50 MORE than they are here (ex: Napoleons at Fresh Market are $3.50 - here, they are $2.00). Allen L first happened across this sugar paradise while trying to locate reasonably priced chocolate covered strawberries. Everywhere in the Summit City, chocolate covered strawberries range from $3.50-$5.00 each - here, they are only $1.25 and are as beautiful and delicious, if not more so, than those found anywhere else.
Below is the fresh baked bread area. As with all of the items in the bakery, everything is made fresh daily on the premises by what I can only imagine is an all star team of Keebler elves! The football shaped breads on the cart are only .40 - in this economy . . . fresh baked bread for only 40 cents - yep! The 2 types of bread I purchased were crusty on the outside and soft and wonderful on the inside. They had some multi-grain bread that was $3.50 a loaf, but still - how fabulous would that be to accompany a beef stew or soak up some other type of "sop in's".
Between the 3 of us, we tried about 25 different things - all beyond description . . . amazing!
Our verdict - GO, go now, go without hesitation and tell everyone you know!
Until the next bite -