Bluepoint: Ultramarine Cuisine
At Atlanta’s high-profile see-and-be-scene, the entrees are impressive, especially a translucent, soy-dotted sea bass with coconut sticky rice.
Old Business means watchfobs and waistcoats, big martinis and charred steaks.
So what’s the New Business dining experience? You won’t find a better example of the contemporary paradigm than seafood-centric-with-an-Asian-twist Bluepointe. Here, steakhouses’ trademark heavy drapes, dark paneling and Persian rugs give way to subtle light shows behind opaque glass, comfortable booths overlooking Peachtree Road and a chandelier that looks like an artful arrangement of fish bones.
Business diners don’t usually like change – they want tradition. But leave it to the ultimate restaurant businessman, Pano Karatassos, to see where the curve was leading. Bluepointe was an immediate hit when it opened in 1999, earning a “Best New Restaurant” nod from Esquire magazine, and a recent visit showed that diners have never relaxed their embrace.
In fact, one of the few changes we noticed was the fact that Bluepointe’s excellent sushi selections are now popular choices on plates all over the restaurant, not just in the sushi bar.
Bluepointe is perhaps Atlanta’s most high-profile see-and-be-scene, and the dress code on a cold winter night included mink, dark denim and plenty of diamonds. And while sea creatures remain Bluepointe’s main theme, we saw a few well-heeled diners scoot in for a quick steak and garlic mashed potatoes. Several regulars have staked out favorite tables. A certain few, it seems, regard Bluepointe the way the rest of us see the Waffle House – comfortable, reliable and always there when you need it.
Which is, in fact, another of Bluepointe’s draws – it’s one of the few sushi places in town open every night. And while I love the maki-roll sushi (thankfully simple and clean, void of most of the mayonnaise-y and sauce-heavy rolls you’ll find elsewhere), I always want to explore what Bluepointe’s chef (Doug Turbush) has in store.
A good way to try a little of everything is the Blueplate, a tasting of four appetizers ($12 per person). Listen to your waiter (the excellent service is clearly another reason for Bluepointe’s success): Despite my doubts, he strongly urged us to include the steamed pork buns as one of our choices. I don’t usually like them, even in my favorite Chinese restaurants, but these little white dough-clouds with a fatback heart and whisper of pineapple glaze were like some form of food morphine. Suddenly, all our pains and woes disappeared. The pot-stickers, spring rolls and tiger shrimp, with little dots of dried pineapple, were also inspired, but none so heavenly as the pork buns.
We also opted to split a salad of mixed red and gold beets. It arrived, carefully arranged on two separate plates, like little disks of stained glass, mortared with goat cheese, framed with glazed pecans. We made short work of it.
The entrees were similarly impressive, especially a translucent, soy-dotted sea bass with coconut sticky rice, ginger and scallion. Our side dish of limp, wok-browned bok choy was one of our favorite dishes of the night. And while my bacon-wrapped cod made a stunning presentation – how does the chef manage to get the bacon “jacket” uniformly crisp and dry, and the cod moist-centered? – the fish’s natural oils made for a flavorful, but heavy combination with its overcoat.
Desserts can be gloriously over-the-top, if served with a slightly ’80s, tall-food flair: We indulged in a dense chocolate roll with peanut-butter ice cream, which featured, completely superfluously, a stick of clear spun sugar.
A minor complaint: For such an extensive wine list, Bluepointe is surprisingly short on sake choices. But I’d have to think of something much more important to keep me from going back.
3455 Peachtree Road, Atlanta
Hours: Lunch weekdays; dinner nightly.
Credit cards: All major.
Parking: Complimentary valet.
Dress code: Snazzy.