Before we make our escape, we make a frozen pizza for the kids and put on a movie, figuring that would keep them busy for a couple hours.
We drive to High Point in the gathering thunderstorm, for one because in the Furniture City, no one knows who we are, and even if they did they wouldn’t care. For another, we’ve been dying to try out the Blue Water Grille since it took over the space where the old Grappa Grill used to stand so many years ago. We are due for a really good meal.
We don’t often indulge in fine dining, but when we do we prefer a place like the Blue Water, with a high-end menu but none of the stuffiness one usually associated with $25 entrées. It’s certainly classy inside. Large fishtanks break up the dining room; drapery softens the thunder rolling outside. And though restaurants like this have been suffering of late, the place is full.
Our server informs us that the grouper special has already sold out, but that there is plenty of good stuff on the menu. He’s absolutely right.
For starters we share an oyster salad, with perfectly corn-fried bivalves hosting mixed greens and a thin cream dressing accented by a Texas Pete’s buerre blanc. The overall taste is sublime.
We go big for our entrées. The lady fancies the grouper Oscar, a classic dish in which the lightly blackened fish wears a sensible coat of béarnaise, topped with sweet lumps of crabmeat and set upon lightly cooked asparagus spears. It’s beautiful to behold, and tasty enough to elicit noises of approval from my female companion.
I’m in for the beef tenderloin, a generous cut without being absolutely ridiculous — it is possible to make a filet too big. Tonight it’s plated with crisped pommes anna, which is basically French for “awesome scalloped potatoes,” and wilted spinach, with a sort of foie gras mousse dolloped on top.
The first taste hits my mouth like a symphony, like a masterful oil painting, like poetry. I slowly chew and savor, eyes closed. This is the best steak I’ve had in years. It should be — it cost more than a week’s worth of lunches. But as I make my way through it, I am convinced it is worth it. And I am sad when it is gone.
But the prospect of dessert cheers me up some. Who says no to a chocolate torte? The Blue Water version is warm, at turns crispy and gooey in all the right places, served with a sugar wafer curved like a horn; for the life of me I cannot figure out how they create it. With a cup of very good coffee and an intoxicating tablemate, there is no finer way to end a fabulous meal.
And then it’s out through the rain to the car for the drive back to Greensboro, where there are kids to be put to bed, laundry to be folded, itemized lists that need to be checked off. Real life — for us, anyway — has little in common with the fine-dining experience.
But it was nice while it lasted.
Blue Water Grille 126 E. State Ave., High Point