BLUEWATER BAR & GRILL
245 Oriental Pde
Ph: 801 7900
Open 7 days, 11am-late
Price range of mains: $18-$35, cost: $95 for two (excluding drinks)
Wine list: 3/5
Despite such minor details as a change of ownership and name, the restaurant beneath Oriental Bay's band rotunda toddles along much as before.
This seems to be exactly as the South African owners of the rebranded Bluewater Bar & Grill would wish. Otherwise, why would they have adopted Fisherman's Table-style sign-writing on their outdoor canopy, and almost exactly copied the Fisherman's Table's menu in design and layout?
Give or take the odd porthole here and fake ship's lantern there, the decor also remains fundamentally unchanged. No stuffed marlin trophies on the wall, but a model sailing ship's wheel now crowns this refurbed Neptune's den.
There was just a five-day transition from the closure of Fisherman's Table to its reopening as Bluewater, during which the tables were re-topped and new carpet was laid. Our chatty waitron was able to tell us all this because, she confessed, she had previously worked at Fisherman's Table.
On to the food. My Seafood Chowder contained little Asian scallops and farmed prawns and an overload of cream, but unlike the typical Kiwi chowder, it wasn't mired with a heavy roux.
Waterfront Prawn Cocktail was advertised as being with a twist, which turned out to be avocado whizzed to a sticky pap. This tasted over-ripe, as avocado does when it has been sitting around for too long. The prawns themselves were pretty tasteless, but at least they weren't left behind on the plate with the goo.
These two entrees had been delivered to our table by a junior waiter. "Seafood Chowder and Prawn Cocktail," he'd announced.
"Yes, that's us," I replied.
He stood hovering with his two plates, waiting for me to take the cue and participate in his tableside auction. This I refused to do: a properly trained waiter should already know who is having what. So I said nothing.
"Well," he finally said with a note of irritation, "which is which?"
Fish of the day was gurnard, my favourite. It suits me fine that gurnard is among the cheapest of fish, but in my experience it's unforgiving when cooked: in a flash, the thin fillets turn from creamy to dry. These fillets were dry.
My brother was pleased enough with his eye fillet steak, but in my estimation it was more medium-rare than rare, as ordered. Its battered onion rings were crunchy and undercooked and the jus carried neither scent nor taste of the promised truffles. But the rich, creamy potato gratin was excellent.
While the wine list is sparse, it does have the odd gem by the glass, such as Wither Hills riesling and Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc.
The best thing to be said about Bluewater is that, like Fisherman's Table, it's relatively cheap, which may explain why the place appears to be perpetually busy.
ONE THING YOU SHOULD TRY
Key Lime Pie
Although it's not listed on the menu, a frequent daily special here is Key Lime Pie. This is like a cheesecake both in the texture of the filling and in the crushed biscuits of the crust. But the difference is a hearty slosh of citrus juice, the acidity of which very pleasantly cuts the sweet richness of the curd.