By Steve Coomes
Housed in the former Diamante Restaurant in the Upper Highlands, Blue Lagoon is, despite its nautical name, free of hackneyed maritime decor. Wood-paneled ceilings and walls make it feel like an unusually roomy sloop, but the expansive windows providing a sidewalk panorama afford much more light than portholes would.There’s not a bad perch in the joint, nor, based on my experience, a bad dish on the menu.
After three recent visits, I had no doubts one could weigh anchor anywhere on Blue Lagoon’s menu and find firm purchase. At lunch, the place serves plate meals of a protein and a side dish, or sandwiches with sides. But at night it switches to small plates, giving diners a chance to sample lots without forking out a bunch of dough.
Majority owner Remy Pouranfar claimed months ago he’d have some of the best seafood in town, and indeed, the selection is impeccably fresh, and limited in a good way: Fewer offerings allow Blue Lagoon to keep the quality high. A Baked Young Cod ($9.50) I had for lunch was feather light and among the most fish-flavorful fillets in memory. A terrific Tomato Sandwich ($7) my guest nabbed was even better. Breaded, fried strata of green and red tomato slices were laced with a smoky-sweet red pepper aïoli and served on a billowy bun.
At dinner, the marinated, breaded and fried Gator Bytes ($10) were spicy, tender and delicious (though the clever flaming-onion volcano garnish became a smoldering irritant when it wouldn’t self-extinguish). The Salmonsicles ($7) included thin ribbons of delicate, house-cured Atlantic salmon presented to encourage diners to loop the fish around pita skewers. Cool idea and pretty in execution, but the starchiness of the slightly-too-thick “sticks” drowned out the subtle salmon flavors. A pair of Sliders ($5.50) were made from fried baby cod slices rather than hamburger and bore no resemblance to their unctuous namesakes. The fish was crisp, hot and served dabbed with fresh tartar sauce and bookended by soft pretzel buns. Between each plate delivered we nibbled on wedges of excellent Persian Flatbread ($5) topped with freshly grated cheeses, tomatoes and basil.
The real jewel of the lagoon was the Caribbean Cod ($10), a fillet cooked and served neatly encased in a hand-tied, paper-thin banana leaf. My guest said removing the leaf to get at the fish inside was “like unwrapping a present.” Steeped in a fish fumet spiked with citrus and herbs, the cod was aromatic and fork tender. (Were I a betting man, I’d expect to see this remarkable dish copied in other restaurants soon.)
Blue Lagoon, 2280 Bardstown Road, 632-2583. Lunch, Tuesday through Sunday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Dinner, Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday, 5-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5-11 p.m.