Owner Alex Myrick has succeeded in making Blue a destination restaurant from 5 p.m. to midnight. The beautiful bar area fills up with people in need of the sort of nourishment that only martinis and flatbread pizzas can provide. Dinner ups the ante. Gene Briggs, one of the most talented chefs in town, offers an inspired vision of Mediterranean cuisine, such as the heady Pomegranate Glazed Lamb Loin, served over an apricot and pine nut couscous with a carrot and mint salad and cardamom-scented yogurt sauce.

Blue on the Cheap
If you're on a liquid diet, Blue offers a $6 martini every weekday. Fridays are for the signature 9 Below, which consists of vodka, triple sec, blue curacao, and white cranberry. Before 7 p.m. every weekday, two bar apps can be had for $10. Or drop in after a show for live jazz and one of the best late-night menus in the city, including two jumbo diver scallops wrapped in prosciutto over a fava bean puree and Meyer lemon marmalade for only $11.95, or a luscious pistachio and roasted pear baklava for $7.95. Together, it's a mini meal. If you want to sample the dinner menu, the Crispy Israeli Falafel ($8.95), which comes with its own salad, pita bread, and tahini yogurt sauce, and the roasted butternut squash soup (with chorizo and Manchego croutons) makes for a savory and surprisingly filling dinner. Or substitute the large Kobe Beef Kofta (beef and spices on a skewer, $9.95) for the falafel.

Fifth and College sts., 704-927-2583,

Categories: Feature, Food + Drink, Restaurants & Food