It took a while to find Café Blue in Gunbarrel. It’s hidden in a strip mall, which is in the shadow of another, bigger strip mall, which is in the shadow of a King Soopers… part of a larger strip mall. But inside those doors is a quaint, friendly cafe that serves a variety of lunch and dinner options and has a homey bar set right in the middle of the dining room.
The place was packed one recent evening, which wasn’t a surprise as there are maybe 15 tables in the restaurant. A short wait later, we sat at a nice, clean table and were greeted by several friendly waitresses.
We ordered the specials that evening — a sea scallop and halibut entrée and a fish taco appetizer. We also ordered a bowl of clam chowder and a plate of saffron seafood risotto. It wasn’t the intent to make this a seafood feast, it’s just that half of Café Blue’s menu is seafood, with interesting dishes to boot. We passed up mahi, salmon, cioppino and more, as well as terrestrial fare like meatloaf, enchiladas and sausage pasta.
Anyway, the clam chowder came first. It was a good chowder. The base was creamy and rich. It was served piping hot. The potatoes were cut into small chunklets and were cooked properly, retaining form but yielding to slight jaw pressure. The clams were abundant and flavorful.
The fish taco appetizer was good if you didn’t think about it too much. The fish involved was indeterminate. It was breaded like a crabcake, and sort of tasted similar to a combination of freshwater fish and crab, likely the result of the breading. There was a bone in it, which is certainly excusable. In the end, it tasted alright aided by the additions of citrus and spice in the toppings, but I wasn’t wild about the texture.
The halibut was better. It was cooked well and tasted fresh. Sitting on a bed of fresh spinach and a pile of mashed potatoes, there was also a chile lime sauce that was scarce but delicious when it made it onto the fork. The scallops were not as well prepared. They were not seared long enough and lacked tenderness.
The saffron seafood risotto was interesting. There were definitely fine elements. The mussels were well prepared and delicious and there were fun bits of baby octopus and lobster claw.
The cream base was a bit heavy on lemon and a bit light on saffron for my taste, and I thought it too viscous for risotto. I do think this dish was close. Seafood is the invitation at Café Blue but my next trip back will be to try the meatloaf, steak, enchiladas and others of the ilk, which represent the other half of the menu.
The ambiance is cozy. The service is exceptional and friendly. And I can imagine a burger and a tall beer at the bar would be a good meal and fine time.