The Blue Door

burger2The Capital Region is proving to be a trove of culinary gems, and while some are hidden (Haru), The Blue Door in downtown Fredericton has already racked up multiple awards. The Blue Door succeeds so well because it’s a reflection of Fredericton itself, offering refined dishes in an attractive setting without putting on too many airs.

UPDATE July 19, 2014: The Blue Door is currently closed and has been sold to new owners. I understand it will be re-opening, but I have no idea how the change of management will affect this restaurant.

The setting

The Blue Door is on the corner of King & Regent streets, a prime downtown location. Stepping inside the (as advertised) blue door, you’ll see a cozy interior characterized by dark wood and walls adorned with art, offered in partnership with local gallery Ingrid Mueller Art + Concepts. Artwork adorns the walls of The Blue Door in downtown Fredericton.

That’s a very “Fredericton” thing. Offhand, I can think of at least two other downtown restaurants that offer their wall space to display artwork, and the Convention Centre does as well. It’s a symbiotic relationship – exposure for the artists, potential sales for the gallery, and decor for the restaurant that’s refreshed periodically.

I enjoy looking at the art, and sometimes a piece acts as a conversation starter as well. Gary and I spent considerable time exploring the options presented by this piece:

art2

Was it a settee? A jellyfish? A basketball wearing a skirt? (Obviously, we are neither refined nor art aficionados.)

The food

Another Fredericton theme is using local foods, and with reason: as our visits to the Fredericton Boyce Farmer’s Market have shown us, local food really is more delicious. The Blue Door’s menu is minimalist in design, and doesn’t offer many clues about the origin of their foods, although their website does note that they try to work closely with local suppliers.

I actually don’t care where the ingredients come from.

This was the best meal I’ve had in quite some time – probably since our visit to Troy in Wolfville (very different cuisine, but equally delicious).

We started with the sweet potato fries and calamari. The fries were perfectly cooked and the spicy sambal mayo dip set them apart from the usual offering of curry or chipotle dip. The calamari was also cooked to perfection, and avoided the rubbery texture that I’m always afraid of getting when I order this dish. The spice popped nicely against the pickled ginger aioli (another welcome departure from the usual dip, in this case tzatziki).

The lighting was appropriately dim on our night-after-Valentine's visit, so photos didn't turn out. This shot is from a previous lunch visit (their burgers are huge, moist, and absolutely delicious).

The lighting was appropriately dim on our night-after-Valentine’s visit, so my photos didn’t turn out very well. This shot is from a previous lunch visit (their burgers are huge, moist, and absolutely delicious).

Wanting to give the “blue” theme a fighting chance, we ordered the Blue Dragon and Blue Door cocktails, too. Mine (Blue Dragon) was sharp and citrusy; Gary’s (The Blue Door) was a little sweeter.

The Blue Door CocktailThe main star

I knew what my main course was going to be before we arrived: the shrimp gnocchi. Advertised as “house made”, I had high hopes for this gnocchi, but given my deep and abiding love for the potato-filled pasta, pretty high expectations too.

It was divine.

The pasta was tender and perfectly cooked, the sauce complemented the chorizo sausage, and I ate every last drop. My only quibble, if I had one, would be that the shrimp were pretty unnecessary. They weren’t bad, but they didn’t add anything to the dish.

Regardless, I loved the dish so much I got an order to go, and took it home to my mother, who was babysitting for us. Despite being full, the smell of the gnocchi wafting through our house made my mouth water all over again.

Mom also loved the gnocchi, although the chorizo was too spicy for her.

Don’t worry, it didn’t go to waste. 😉

Steak

Gary ordered the New York Striploin, and it was cooked as ordered. That’s fairly rare (pun intended); chefs typically overcook his steak and he gets medium instead of medium-rare. The sauce seemed to be the most popular part of the dish, as he worked his way through the broccoli first, using it to sop up the sauce.

Gary’s quibble was that the steak was a bit tough. But I’ve been with Gary for 8 years, and I’ve yet to see a restaurant steak meet his exacting standards.

Dessert

Chocolate brownie at The Blue Door, Fredericton

Chocolate brownie with caramel popcorn and peanut butter/chocolate sauce.

I don’t even have anything to say about this. I was skeptical of the caramel popcorn, but it was fantastic. Just… yum.

Details

We saw some young kids come in, but I wouldn’t bring our toddler here. This is more of a adult’s evening out establishment (which was perfect, since it was our combined late Valentine’s Day & early anniversary dinner).

Next time, I’d sit downstairs because I like the ambience there a bit better, but that’s just personal preference.

And lunch is a great option here as well. I’ve been for lunch and had their burger, which was similarly delicious.

The final word

The Blue Door isn’t cheap, but it is worth it.

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