May 10, 2007 | BITE: My Journal

Floating with the Fishes at Blue Fin 

    For years I refused to eat before the theater.  Me?  A worldly New Yorker? ( New Yorkers born in the middle west like me can be the most unreformable.)  But the years accumulate and, suddenly, my guy won’t eat at 11 and it’s a three hour show, or my niece has yoga at 7 a.m.  Blue Fin is perfect for something light, steps away from the Broadway action. And it’s Esca, when our curtain is rising closer to 42nd Street.


We bask in the relative calm of Blue Fin's back room.  Photo: Steven Richter                                                                                       
    At Blue Fin we try to wrangle a table upstairs, where it’s quieter. The Road Food Warrior almost always has sushi and a couple of maki rolls, maybe the house’s fine Caesar salad.  After an overdose of red meat, I’m happy to baby my arteries with salmon. For a while Steve Hanson only used wild salmon.  (He is a long time friend and I’ve watched his empire evolve rather too closely for unblemished credibility.) Now, I see it’s Scottish organic salmon ($26) on the menu – sounds patrician.  Indeed, the fish is so elegant, it’s barely pink, but I’ve read that’s good - means no bad stuff in the feed to make it coral. Alas, it’s underseasoned, pale in flavor, too.  But, I’m enjoying the adornments: tight little curls of crawfish, peas, and baby potatoes on a cushion of Swiss chard with an edging of port wine glaze.

    It’s the first time I’ve tasted my favorite spicy tuna roll with its fiery mayonnaise dipping sauce since reading Nick Tosches exhaustive exploration of sushi in the May Vanity Fair. Dipping deep into the rituals of Tokyo’s Tsukji fish market, he warns against low-end sushi places, where a dose of spice might hide over-the-hill tuna. I smell first. But Blue Fin is not low-end and I like to think Steve Hansons’ rapidly increasing buying power is my insurance. 

    Tonight’s meal is not as careful as two recent pre-theater performances here, but the expert attentions of the waiter, Derek, almost makes up for that. We consider the carrot cake.  “Does sugar keep you awake or put you to sleep?” I ask, knowing the answer only too well. (Awake). 

     "No carrot cake,” Steven says.

     Of course, we’ll be back.

     P.S. About the ladies room. Three stalls, modest queue waiting.  I notice the attendant handing out towels.  No problem. A reminder she’d like a tip.  No problem. 'Til I notice there is no soap at the sinks.  She is making each woman hold out her hand for a rationed squeeze of liquid soap from the bottle she holds hostage. 

     “Why is there no soap at the sink?” I ask.

     “Because I own everything in this room,” she responds, a bit agitated, indicating various potions and implements on her small table.  “It is all mine.”

     I wish I were not so annoyed.  After all, it’s a tough way to make a living.

1567 Broadway near 47th St. 212 918 1400


Patina Restaurant Group