Concept Restaurants has been busy over the past few months. Since opening Stout Street Social last winter, they've also opened a second Ignite in Arvada and have updated the menu at Humboldt, where chef Will Tuggle took the reins this summer. That doesn't mean the restaurant group is ousting former Humboldt chef DJ Nagle. Quite the contrary; instead, he's getting shiny new digs in which to work his East Coast seafood magic. Construction is nearly complete on Blue Island Oyster Bar in the new 250 Columbine development in Cherry Creek North, and Sean Huggard, director of Operations for the restaurant group, says the restaurant will open on September 17.
The 100-seater will feature an oyster bar as the central focus of the dining room, with fresh oysters on ice in baskets rather than behind glass. Concept Restaurants has partnered with Chris Quartuccio of Blue Island Shellfish in New York to provide both farmed and wild oysters from the Great South Bay off Long Island, where the oysterman runs his business. Quartuccio employs divers to go after deep-water Blue Point oysters, a variety whose name is protected by the state of New York.
Other features of the restaurant will include plaster finishes in the front entrance and along a head-level "water line" that will mimic the interior of an oyster shell, including a nacreous sheen; a wall-sized map of the Great South Bay; art installations made from 150-year-old cedarwood; and a photo mural on the back of the bar depicting free divers underwater, which will wrap from the wall onto the ceiling. There's also a hanging art piece above the bar built that resembles the oars of a ship undulating through the sea.
Food will play to Nagle's strengths as a Long Island native with a penchant for bold, rustic flavors and traditional East Coast seafood preparations. That will include lobster rolls, crab cakes, stuffed clams and other clam-shack-style dishes, but also a few surprises, like charred octopus with chorizo vinaigrette.
Huggard says he envisions Blue Island as an all-day kind of place, where shoppers can stop for a 2 p.m. chardonnay with oysters, or happy-hour revelers can sample Diver's IPA or Blue Island Blonde, two beers made just for the restaurant by Boulder Beer. Mostly, it will be a casual, approachable eatery that will fit well alongside neighbor the Cherry Cricket.
We'll keep you posted with new photos and a complete menu rundown once Blue Island is ready to open to the public.
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