Where Torches on the Hudson once flickered on the Newburgh waterfront, a new restaurant has sprung up. Open since last April, Blu Pointe, a venture of the Bonura family (Shadows, Grandview), has ditched the torches and the famous saltwater fish tank of its predecessor, and created its own drama.
“We completely gutted the building down to the cement floors and iron beams and built it back the way we wanted it,” says General Manager Jeff Greene. “It’s more sophisticated while still being cozy.” Special touches, like reclaimed wood from a 135-year-old barn in Sugar Loaf and a lodge-like bluestone fireplace surrounded by plush leather club chairs and sofas, create the sense that you’re at a party in a private home. Where the famous aquarium once loomed, a temperature-controlled walk-in wine vault now steals the show. It houses some 3,000 (yes, that’s right) vintages from near and far.
And the view! The former deck is now an open-air terrace that sits even closer to the water. Retractable floor-to-ceiling windows mean you can relax there year-round enjoying the spectacle of the river — not just when the weather decides.
But you’re not here to sightsee. So let’s talk food, specifically seafood. Executive chef Hektor Dajo, a graduate of the CIA, has designed a menu that’s loaded with it. As the restaurant’s name implies, oysters are a specialty. They’re served chilled on the half shell with a mignonette sauce (minced shallots, cracked pepper, and vinegar, with a dash of Riesling) and a spicy Bloody Mary sauce. A half-dozen varieties are offered daily at the raw bar, a market-style fresh fish display of daily items. You’ll find East Coast faves like Great South Bay from Long Island and Massachusetts Wellfleets as well as small and sweet Kumamotos from the Pacific Northwest ($2 to $3.50). Since the old wives’ tale says that oysters are best in months that contain the letter “r,” hurry on over. Also at the raw bar, load up on littleneck clams on the half shell ($14 a dozen) and lobster cocktail with lemon-thyme aïoli ($21).
Sampler platter combos range from $29 to $59, but the showstopper is the shellfish tower: three tiers of lobster, Alaskan king crab, shrimp, clams, and oysters on a bed of shaved ice that is just right when you’re out on the terrace with a group ($149). If it’s just the two of you, charcoal-grilled octopus ($18) or a plate of flash-fried calamari in a lemony thyme and spicy tomato sauce ($13) will do quite nicely. Lobster Newburg, served with saffron-sherry cream and an asparagus risotto ($34) is hands-down the most popular entrée, says Greene, but the New York strip steak with a peppercorn sherry sauce ($33) makes a hearty, non-seafood alternative.
If this all sounds like a lot, dial it down a bit and come for lunch. New England-style lobster roll on toasted brioche ($26) and mini tuna tacos with ponzu and avocado ($14), washed down with a glass of Spanish Albariño, are just the ticket as you watch boaters sail hungrily up to the dock on a fine spring day.