Camp Bowie Creole

Seafood lovers have a new option in town to satisfy their desire for everything that swims in the deep blue sea at The Blu Crab, a welcome addition to the growing Westside dining scene.

by Courtney Dabney

The Chilean Sea Bass ($32) was paired with the house Blu Crab Sauce, which is a lovely white cream sauce full of whole roasted garlic cloves, a touch of tarragon and jumbo lump crabmeat.

Eric Nquyen spent six years in New Orleans while he attended Xavier University. During his stint there, he developed a love for the Creole flavors and waterside ambience.

After the success of his Pho Noodle and Grill in the Chapel Hill Shopping Center, he and partners Victor Nquyen and Henry Pham decided to roll the dice on the former Cafe Aspen location. It was a keen choice of locations actually with the expanding options and clientele on that stretch of Camp Bowie. In fact, their neighbor just across the boulevard, Ray’s Prime Steak and Seafood, has recently expanded and is now offering lunch as well.

As a great admirer of the former Cafe Aspen, I was pleasantly surprised by the interior. Only the footprint of the former restaurant remains. Everything else has been redesigned with quality finishes. It has the look and feel of a French Quarter eatery, with dark wood grains and plank and paneled wainscoting.

Nguyen laid out the design and picked out every detail himself. It is a well-organized layout with a full-length bar topped in black granite to your left, stylish pale blue high-backed booths to the right and tables lined up neatly in between. Stained concrete flooring is an authentic material choice. The custom lighting is inviting, as are the scenes of the French Quarter painted on the walls.

The Crème Brûlée ($7) arrived still flaming, so the crunchy sugar topping tasted like a marshmallow pulled from a campfire.

There are big plans for the back bar and lounge area in the near future. Now it is used mostly to handle the overflow crowd and is booked for special occasions and private parties.

The daily market per pound pricing is listed on a blackboard toward the back. Some of the Nawlins-style boiled seafood options, served with classic corn on the cob and potatoes, include Blue or Dungeness crab, crawfish, lobster tails and shrimp. All are offered with your choice of seasoning spice, which ranges from mild to flaming hot to suit your taste.

We began with the Seafood Bruschetta ($9). Crispy, toasted baguette rounds were topped with a mixture of chopped shrimp, crab, scallops and calamari, along with a creamy fresh aioli. They were baked and garnished with tangy marinated red onion, jalapeño and parsley. The Bruschetta were very tasty and packed with plenty of punch.

Seafood Bruschetta ($9) made a nice start to the meal.

There are ample options for every appetite and price point like Fish or Shrimp Tacos, fried platters featuring oysters and catfish, as well as true Cajun-style Po Boy sandwiches. We opted for something fresh from the grill.

The Blackened Red Snapper ($28) was a generous filet with just the right hint of seasoning (sometimes I find blackened fish so overly spiced that it is hard to locate the fish hiding underneath). It came with a choice of sides. Our French Green Beans were lightly cooked and served with a crunch, and the Cheesy Grits were delightful with melting shreds sprinkled over the top.

The Chilean Sea Bass ($32) was ordered pan seared and with the house Blu Crab Sauce, which is a lovely white cream sauce full of whole roasted garlic cloves, a touch of tarragon and jumbo lump crabmeat. It was a nice presentation and simply delicious. The Sea Bass was also a generous portion served with crisp grilled asparagus spears and more cheesy grits on the side. I could have made a meal out of the Blu Crab Sauce alone, just savoring those whole roasted garlic cloves.

Blu Crab Executive Chef Jason Stephens offers a variety of dishes that range from mild to flaming hot.

The desserts were spot on as well. Our Crème Brûlée ($7) arrived to the table still flaming, so our crunchy sugar topping tasted like a marshmallow that had just been pulled out of a campfire. And the house-made Key Lime was gorgeous with dots of dark chocolate sauce and a perfectly fanned strawberry decorating the plate. The pie had that telltale tartness and distinct flavor that said it was made from real Key limes, providing a good pucker.

The bar area was well attended the night we visited, with flat-screen televisions and the glow of blue lighting. Several couples were enjoying appetizers and drinks.

While most customers have filed nothing but complimentary reviews, one food critic in particular was a little harsh when it first opened. Personally, I hope this place puts down deep roots, since we need more seafood in the area, and I couldn’t find much of anything to criticize.

It was a fabulous meal, at a fair price, offered by friendly servers in a comfortable atmosphere. What’s not to like? So, don’t be scared off by one negative review. Give Blu Crab a try!  

Located at: 6115 Camp Bowie Blvd.
For reservations call: 817.763.8585 $-$$$$
Open: Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-9 p.m.