This past winter, the Tides Folly Beach hotel and Blu Restaurant and Bar closed for an intensive deep cleaning, painting and refreshing of the rooms and common spaces. There is a new “blue” at Blu, and it is the color of calm, cool and connected.
Enter the spacious foyer and the walls are washed in colorful LED lighting that is repeated tableside with your light-show lantern. A natural sculpture of driftwood anchors the guest services area and a small reef tank filled with anemones, coral and other sea beauties sets the stage for the calming influences of the dining room now known as Blu.
Kudos to the interior designers who let the oceanfront setting command center stage and arranged the tables so everyone has a view. The color palette of sand, azure, turquoise and white calms and restores.
The gauze-like fabric panels that once sheltered the banquettes are now tied back. This look clarifies the sight lines to the sandy beach and welcoming waves, making it a premier setting on Folly Beach.
An aquamarine wall of water ripples at the bar, where tear-shaped lights appear suspended in space. Be sure to notice the staircase, the ceiling treatment and the lighting. Blu marries coastal chic with the relaxed vibe of flip-flops and Marysia fashions.
The deck offers a casual bar, a rail for those who can’t get enough of the view and attractive conversation pits featuring Adirondack-style chairs, wicker furnishing and outdoor seating for dinner.
The tapas and small plate menu that once held center stage at Blu has changed under the leadership of executive chef Jon Cropf. That menu of extensive choices has morphed into a cohesive selection of snacks designed for sharing, predominantly seafood first courses, a well-balanced salad menu and a dinner menu.
Dinner offerings are priced from $12 for a signature burger with housemade bacon to surf and turf for $30 that combines Meyer Ranch tenderloin with local shrimp skewered on rosemary stems paired with a beefy wild mushroom and short rib risotto.
Cropf is having fun in the kitchen: fashioning a corn dog out of lobster meat ($7), dusting kettle corn ($5) with white truffle oil and Parmesan cheese, curing meats ($14) and smoking bacon and ketchup.
He is comfortable with pickled okra and butterbeans and uses preserved lemon and emulsified sauces with equal skill.
The entree menu is seafood-centric. However, meat lovers will find classic steak preparations ($19, $25, $30) and Ashley Farms chicken and dumplings ($22).
Do check out the braised short ribs on Geechie Boy grits ($6.50) starter. Both demonstrate the skills in the kitchen with the grits plumed to tender corn glory and the short ribs braised to a tidy collapse of meat with flavor and succulence preserved.
A pork shoulder starter ($9) can easily pair with soup or salad for another carnivore option. It is served perched on a tangy jalapeno cornbread round with pickled vegetables and quickly satisfies smaller appetites.
The salads easily serve two, and the artisan lettuce ($8) preparation fashions paper-thin slices of vertical cucumber strips with sweet grape tomatoes, leafy greens, Manchego cheese and a creative gazpacho vinaigrette. A huge chunk of iceberg is a wedge on the edge with pickled onions, peppered bacon and a bath of buttermilk ranch dressing.
Mussels ($9, $14) and shrimp ($7, $12) are generous in portion, as were all of our selections at Blu.
Children are welcome, and the menu is geared to their tastes and their humor with “wash-out” sundaes and “dirt and worms” desserts (all $5).
A blueberry cobbler ($6) served with a Meyer lemon gelato and a crusty oatmeal topping captured the flavors of summer in a classic Southern dessert.
Service at the time of our visit was attentive and well-informed. A friendly staff works to make your experience a positive one.
Your experience at Blu can be as glam or as relaxed as you desire.
If a stay-cation is in your summer playbook, launch it with a view at Blu.