The Blue Water Seafood Company, on Charlotte Street in downtown Asheville, celebrated its much-anticipated grand opening on Monday, August 2. Tracy Griffin, owner of the restaurant and fish market with her husband David, says that the feedback has been positive thus far. "When people come back for the fresh fish, we'll know for sure that they liked it," she says.
The new venture is the first of its kind in Asheville, with gleaming steel ice bins full of fresh whole and filleted fish separating the bar area from the brightly painted dining area. The market serves a full lunch menu from 11 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., with additional to-go items available until the market closes at 7 p.m.
The lunch menu is surprisingly extensive, with salads, steamer buckets, snack items and sandwiches in the line-up. A number of bayou-region specialties like crawfish etoufée and po' boys show up on the menu, alongside coastal northern dishes like a juicy, tarragon-spiked Maine lobster roll, or classic shellfish steamers, served rather cutely in metal pails.
Those po' boys, it should be said, are something special — guests may pick the fish of their choice from the fresh seafood display to be blackened and served steaming on crusty French bread with lettuce, tomato, remoulade and pickles.
Chef Chas Edwards also turns out a great "Tropical Asian" salad, a bed of fresh herbs and baby lettuces, topped with sweet chili-glazed shrimp, carrots, cucumber and crushed peanuts, and served with a ginger-peanut dressing. Small plates include clams casino, crab cakes and an artichoke-spinach-crab dip.
King clip, corvina, whole red snapper, local trout, whole bronzini and North Carolina head-on shrimp were all lined up on display on the restaurant's opening day. "Usually we'll also have an assortment of oysters — we'll have some northern oysters, some Pacific northwest oysters, Virginia — wherever we can get them. But they're at a premium right now," says Griffin, referring to impact of the oil catastrophe on Gulf oysters.
As of right now, the restaurant does not have a beer and wine license, but soon will feature several beers on tap and an assortment of wines.
Blue Water Seafood is located at 94 Charlotte Street in north Asheville, next to the City Bakery. For more information, call 253-2080.