Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
The Blue Fin Restaurant
Business RT 17, Gloucester, VA 23061

Review by Diana, MaceVindaloo, Bunchbox

We've written before about coastal seafood shacks and how they can be great. But sometimes they just aren't ... thus being a seafood shack is not guarantee of greatness.

The Blue Fin is in tidewater Virginia and they do get good seafood. They fry it or broil it, as is traditional in such places. And it came with a local person's recommendation of greatness. We came here because a thunderstorm zapped the power from the place where we had planned to make our dinner ... and rather than sit and wait for the power company to deal with it, we decided to get our weary butts up and out. (First, we turned off the oven so that the cake we had in there wouldn't burn when the power came back on!) So we were rather weary and tired and anxious. And a good meal would have been welcome.

First, we noticed all the waitresses looked alike, and it turned out it was a mother and her daughters. The mother was a good server and tried hard to keep everyone happy, but the daughters were obviously not happy to be there and sulked or snuck off to use their cellphones to call their friends. We ran into them in their hiding place near the bathrooms. The friend who recommended this place told us later to give the tip directly to the waitress who served us, as it was likely someone would steal it off the table otherwise. What a nice family.

We ordered the softshell crab special, which came with two fried softies, french fries, and hushpuppies for $15.95. We also tried fried and broiled fisherman's platters, and also got such classics as lump crab appetizer, as well as she-crab soup, and seafood-stuffed mushrooms. The fried platter came with a fried crabcake, clam strips (no bellies), scallops, shrimp, and a trout fillet. The broiled platter came with the same, but no clams. We know the trout was incongruous, but it's apparently a local thing.

There is virtue is frying with older oil, because it has more flavor. The problem comes when it starts to break down and it get a nasty texture and becomes indigestible, and that's the point the oil was at on this Saturday night. You'd think on a busy night, they'd do better about the nasty oil supply; yeah, we understand that you can't just dump it down the drain. The EPA requires that cooking oil be disposed of in a regulated manner, which means paying someone to take it away; maybe they didn't want to deal with that, but the result was a horrible tasting coating on the seafood which made everything taste the same.

The non-fried items were tasty, and showed their ingredients were indeed very fresh and probably very local. The sea scallops in particular were delicious and sweet. The crab was so-so — it's late in the season for soft-shells, but still, all the crab items tastes bland, which is not how good crab tastes. The mushrooms topped with melted cheese was greasy and tasteless, too. The she-crab soup, however, tasted pretty good even though the presentation was downright ugly, and the waitress seemed to have slopped as much onto the plate beneath the bowl as into the bowl itself.

Side dishes were included in the price of the meal, and we chose things like collard greens, macaroni and cheese, french fries, squash (which turned out to be boiled!); hushpuppies came with the meal. Like the other fried items, the hushpuppies were greasy and heavy and tasting like everything else due to the rancid oil they were fried in. This, even though the guy who recommended this place insisted these were light and fluffy in comparison to "sucky places." We asked him not to show us those places ... the other side dishes were fine, though the mac and cheese was kind of heavy.

The place really was popular, which may indicate the lack of options in the area. We had gotten there fairly early in the evening when it was about half-full and the hostess put us at a table that we considered the worst one in the place, and we nearly got up to move to another table (or even to leave all together). But we realized we got the good waitress, so we stayed put. People came in and the place rapidly became excruciatingly busy, and the kitchen's output slowed to a crawl. Even so, the main waitresses daughters still insisted on chatting on their cellphones all during dinner service. Ugh. And they didn't match the nautical theme of the place either, choosing to dress in street clothes so they looked even less happy about having to sulk around with paying customers on a Saturday night.

The bill came to over $110 for four meals (not including tax or tip), which is really a terrible price for the quality of cooking and service. We know Gloucester is considered "the big smoke" in an area of the world which could politely be called "rural," but this is simply too high a price for what they do to the seafood they serve. Maybe they should just open a fish shop, so we could cook the superlative ingredients ourselves.

Too bad the power went out and our brains weren't working too well. The power didn't go out in Gloucester, so they have no excuse for the bad frying, which did make all of us feel kind of ill the next day. We stayed in to feed ourselves after that.

(P.S. The cake left in the oven continued to bake when we got back and turned it on again. It was good!)

Disclaimer: The opinions and observations noted are the property of the author. Neither Wookieehut nor any associates makes any claims or lucre from the posting of this report or review. This webpage is presented by Wookieehut.com. Enjoy!