Thursday, June 30, 2011

Beating the Drum or Singing the Blues at the Blue Beet?

The Blue Beet
107 21st Place
Newport Beach, CA 92663

The birthday dinners keep rolling on, and this time it was my friend Matt who took me out to eat. We headed to a place I have been many times before, but this was my first time being here for dinner. This also is probably the first time I have been here stone sober. In my younger days, the Blue Beet was in my rotation of Newport bars I would frequent. Tonight we were here to see if they serve up great food to go with their stiff beverages.

The Blue Beet actually is the oldest bar in the city of Newport. Opened in 1912 under the name Stark's, it was even open during prohibition due to police indifference. Renamed Sid's Blue Beet in the mid sixties, the Blue Beet was home to a 24 hour poker game, and many colorful characters through the years. This three story bar has a lot of character, but we are also hoping that the food does too. Let's check it out.

To start us out we went with Sid's Famous Garlic Cheese Bread, which is cooked to order. This doughy bread was okay. Heavy on the cheese, which is good, but kind of light on the garlic. We devoured this rather quickly.

Not content with just one appetizer, we also had a Basket of Onion Rings. These had a crisp outer shell and were sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, a nice touch. The onion rings were good without being greasy. Matt also really enjoyed the BBQ sauce that was served with these.

All of us at the table ordered the Blue Beet Dinner Salad. This very generous dinner salad included mixed greens, shredded beets, (of course), carrots, celery, tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, and sunflower seeds. Two things really made this dinner salad stand out, the sunflower seeds and the dressing. The dressings are made in house, and you can really tell the difference. The blue cheese was very thick, and had a great flavor, while the Ranch was some of the best Katie has had in awhile. I am not much of a beet guy, but they did not get in the way here, and actually were kind of nice for a change.

On to the entrees and starting us off is the Encrusted Halibut. The fish was coated with Parmesan and bread crumbs and served with a pesto sauce. The fish was very buttery, but had no taste other than that. The sauce really disappointed here. The green beans and rice were above average.

Matt, my main steak friend, ordered the Sid's Favorite Filet. He had asked for this medium well, and after one trip back to the kitchen for a little more cooking time, it came out the way he wanted it. Matt described this steak as juicy, but average. He loved the rice calling it, "great", but was less enthused about the beans because they were over cooked. I did have a bite of the steak, and felt that it had a good flavor, and was cooked well.

I am sure it is no surprise that I also had a steak, and my steak of late has been the Ribeye. This heavily marbled piece of meat had a good flavor, but was also a lot more fatty than other ribeye's I have had lately.  I had no problem with the fat, because I knew what I was getting when ordering this cut of beef. I substituted creamed corn for the green beans that were supposed to come with this plate. The corn was okay taste wise, but was really watery. The other side item, garlic mashed potatoes failed to impress as well. There was a real shortage of garlic on these, and they should have just sold these as regular mashed potatoes.

Last, but not least was Katie's choice for the evening, the Chicken Marsala. This Marsala was served over pasta, with mushrooms, chicken and a wine sauce. Katie had mixed feelings about this plate. She enjoyed the sauce and mushrooms, but found the chicken to be tough. She also felt that the green beans were a decent side dish, but they did not wow her.

Blue Beet has only one item for dessert, and this is it above, the Homemade New York Cheesecake. This is made by the Alta Coffee Shop in Newport Beach. I am not one to swoon over cheesecake, but this one was really pretty good. Not too dense, silky smooth, and with a great crust, this was a very well balanced cheesecake.

The Blue Beet was relatively quiet for dinner. We were only one of three tables that was having dinner here. The bar was filled, and they were getting ready to have a band start at nine when we were leaving. Our server was very good, and kept things moving at a laid back, beach pace. Dinners were in the twenty dollar range, and portion sizes were good for the amount of food we received.

The food here lacked the wow factor though. The steaks were good, but not among some of the best I have had. They do have decent daily specials, (prime rib or baby back rib dinners for under twelve dollars). The appetizers were good, but the side items were kind of bland and boring to me. The Blue Beet will always be one of my favorite hang out places, and if I did find myself here and hungry, I would definitely eat here again.

Out of five blood turnips, (which used to be a common name for beets), five being best to zero being worst, the Blue Beet gets 2.5 blood turnips.

For more information about Blue Beet, click here:

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