By Paul Roat
Blu Que Island Grill has it all: smokin’ hot barbecue, steamin’ live music daily, great food specials every day, plus a seven-hour-long drink happy “hour.”
Just follow your nose down Avenida Messina in Siesta Village to find Blu Que. The scent of hickory and apple smoke will guide you to the restaurant and its barbecue fare.
Slow-smoked pork, ribs, chicken, and brisket are signature dishes at the 150-seat establishment. All are smoked, then grilled to order.
BBQ ribs? Go for Big Aaron’s Baby Back Ribs Whole Slab ($24.95) or a half for $16.95. Brisket? The 18-Hour Brisket lives up to its name in tenderness ($18.95.) Don’t forget Ellen’s Backyard Chicken ($17.95) as a marinated half-bird.
And then there’s Ken’s Pulled Pork, a half-pound dinner for $17.95. The sandwich is $12.95, with slaw.
All the above dishes come with a Signature Side or two that complements the entrees. Choose from, in no particular order: braised red cabbage; cheese grits; creamy Blu Cheese Slaw; sweet potatoes baked or fried; basmati rice; regular potatoes mashed, loaded, or baked; baked beans; Beau’s Mac & Cheese Ball; asparagus; smoked corn; or salads house or Caesar.
A good start on the smoke front at Blu Que is the Blu Smoke Sampler ($12.95, buns $2 more.) Munch on the long-smoked brisket, plus pulled pork and chicken, to aid in menu selection for a more fulfilling main course.
Or just gorge on the Award Winning Chicken Wings, slow smoked, then tossed in a spicy Asian sauce, for $14. Visit Monday and wings are especially priced at $.75 each.
Speaking of special, Blu Que is a special place when it comes to dining and drinking specials.
First, there’s live music every day.
Next, there’s food specials daily: $15 smoked prime rib Tuesday, all-you-can-eat lobster for $35 Wednesday, full rack of ribs for $15 Thursday, all-you-can-eat King Crab legs for $50 Friday, ditto on Snow Crabs for $35 Saturday, and $5 pulled pork sandwiches on Sunday.
Owner Matt Diveley added that happy hour is now from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily (commencing at noon Sunday) and all appetizers are half-off weekdays from 3 to 6 p.m.
Let’s start with those appetizers. Patrons love the starters at Blu Que. Among the popular items are Matty D’s Calamari, crisp squid lightly breaded and tossed with tomato and red onion, served with a spicy sweet chili sauce for $13.
Other starter fare is the Spicy Seared Tuna, with seaweed salad and sesame chili oil, for $13.95.
Sandwiches are a mainstay on almost any restaurant menu, and Blu Que has some award winners. Beau’s Bodacious Burger ($14.95) is billed as “the Rolls Royce of burgers,” and comes as a blend of Black Angus beef, short ribs, and brisket.
New at Blu Que is a host of shrimp dishes. Give the Shrimp Burger at try served with avocado aioli, for $13.95. All sandwiches come with a signature side dish.
Steaks and chops are also popular at Blu Que. New on the menu is lamb chops ($21), although the 14-ounce fire-grilled ribeye steak ($26) with a choice of Bernaise, Blu Cheese, red wine, or horseradish cream sauce is also appealing to many.
Seafood comes with myriad tangy treats: mango chutney, crab cream, white wine butter, Jack Daniels brown sugar and soy glaze, or lemon butter. Fish may be blackened, grilled, or pan seared. Seafood is mahi ($24), grouper ($26), yellow fin tuna ($28), or 1 ½ pounds of King Crab legs ($40), all served with two signature side dishes.
Be sure to leave room for dessert. The Key Lime Cloud, with Key lime custard and cream with macaroons ($8) is especially popular.
Blu Que has a full bar and an astonishing 33 martinis, all priced at $10. Ever had a Smores martini? How about a Cookie Dough libation? Cheesecake? Butterscotch? You get the idea.
Blu Que Island Grill, 149 Avenida Messina, Siesta Village, opens at 11 a.m. daily (noon Sunday) until closing. Reservations may be made at 941-346-0738, or bluqueislandgrill.com
If you’re visiting parts north, check out the new Blu Que offering in Palmetto: Blu Mangrove Grill, 102 Riviera Dunes Way, 941-479-7827, for more Blu Que flavors.