Blast from the Past at Blue Moo

Photos by TIM VALENTINO

Photos by TIM VALENTINO

If you have yet to visit Le Moo – the lovely new steakhouse that the Food Network has christened as one of the top 25 in the U.S. – you really should. It has more than adequately filled the void left behind by KT’s. The joint exudes class in a rare, unstuffy way that hits you as soon as you walk through the door. It also doesn’t hurt that the menu offers quality steak any way you could possibly want it along with a host of equally tantalizing non-bovine options.

The reason for my visit, however, is not routine. It is the first night of the soft opening for Blue Moo, a stylish jazz club in the back of Le Moo open during weekend late-nights. Being nice to the critic or reviewer is Restaurant Self-Perpetuance 101, but I am impressed with the professional and attentive, yet genuinely friendly, service I receive immediately. As I am led to my seat, I can’t help but feel like Frank Sinatra led to his special booth at The Golden Steer, a feeling that is compounded by the notion that I was stepping into some sort of hybrid of the 1940s and today as soon as I transition to Blue Moo.

Photos by TIM VALENTINO

Photos by TIM VALENTINO

The staff here is just as attentive, and I am quickly introduced to manager Chris Fenton and owner Kevin Grangier. It’s amazing to me how well the place moves. The music certainly helps, but there is an unequivocal zest and pulse about the place. Despite Le Moo’s opening in October and this night’s being Blue Moo’s soft opening, the wait staff operates as a well-oiled machine.

As someone who has waited tables in the past, and had to maintain an illusion and pretense of “having fun,” I take a moment to watch the employees. They bounce along to the music and swing to the beat. They follow the rhythm of the place in a display of fun that is very difficult to fake. In fact, it relaxes and welcomes me through this portal to yesteryear.

Photos by TIM VALENTINO

Photos by TIM VALENTINO

Grangier also does quite a bit to put me at ease. He takes the time to let me in on what Blue Moo is all about: “We want to take you back to the ’40s and ’50s. Something like the supper clubs you used to see. You know, like the Rainbow Room in New York.”

I take another look around the room. Grangier’s reach doesn’t seem to exceed his grasp. I’m taken by just how nice everything looks, all without seeming to lose warmth or charm. He goes on to emphasize the focus on live music and detail the current lineup. Karan Chavis sings standards from the American Songbook with her band, after which local contemporary jazz band Atone will take over on Friday nights and local Latin jazz band Hermanos will on Saturdays. “We’re booked through August,” says Grangier proudly of the entertainment.

Now, Grangier leaves me to look over the menu, which, fortunately for me, is the exact same as that of Le Moo. He and his kitchen are exceptionally generous, offering me “a perfect steak tartare,” steak and eggs and cherry-balsamic chicken. I even get a glass of champagne with a decadent Luxardo cherry at the bottom while I wait.

At this point, I’m not surprised to learn that the food is fantastic when I get to eating it. The consistency of the tartare is exactly as Grangier described, “perfect.” The steak is tender and its eggs well-poached, and the cherry-balsamic glaze on the chicken is so mouthwatering that I wish I could eat more than my stomach and the three entrees will allow.

I take my time eating all this, however, and savor a Four Roses Derby, a cocktail unique to the Blue Moo portion of Le Moo. This drink features, of course, Four Roses bourbon, Cinzano sweet vermouth, Grand Marnier and fresh lime juice, and it gives me the perfect light buzz to tap my toes along to such jazz covers as Pharrell’s “Happy,” the late Prince’s “Kiss” and the perpetually classic “My Girl.”

Le Moo doesn’t seem to know how to do anything in moderation, and with Blue Moo, that continues to be not only a good but a great thing. VT

Blue Moo offers walk-in live jazz from 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.