Heart and Soul

Dean Robb is happily in the house at Blueprint on 3rd.

By Jan Walsh

I have never been to Blueprint on 3rd when restaurateur, Dean Robb was not here. Tonight, he is behind the bar, serving tables, visiting with guests, and simply enjoying the heck out of himself. Five years ago, Dean and his family opened Blueprint on 3rd. Kev and I were guests for the family and friends’ night and attended opening night. And at the time I wrote that I had never seen an opening as smooth. Blueprint ran like a well-oiled machine from the start. But there is nothing mechanical about this place. It started and succeeded from the heart and soul of Dean. His big, generous smile makes all feel welcome. His blue eyes see every table, at once. His generous hands are often full as he helps staff serve guests. And his personality plus is the cherry on top!

Always in the kitchen is executive chef and partner, James Huckaby. His menu is everchanging, and tonight is a transitional one, from late summer to early fall. Yet no matter the season, it is always innovative as he masterfully executes the unexpected.

We are seated by Dean’s son, Brandon at our favorite window table and start with cocktails. Kev has “What She’s Having” but actually he is not because “My Favorite Cocktail” is for me. His adult strawberry lemonade is a refreshing, straightforward concoction of Deep Eddy Vodka, strawberry, and lemon. Whereas my drink is a sophisticated spirit of complex ingredients: New Amsterdam Gin, grapefruit, Cocchi Americano Bianco, Agavero, and absinthe rinse boasts hints of flower on the nose and is pleasantly bitter on the palate. We pair our drinks with shared apps of Deviled Eggs with Caviar and Alabama Crabmeat Lemon Posset. Not your mama’s relish filled stuffed eggs… the color and touch of fishiness and the slippery texture of these dainty embellishments refines the definition of deviled egg. The posset arrives with a touch of whimsy, in two “bowls” made of lemon peels. The traditional lemon posset is a British dessert made of three ingredients: lemon, cream, and sugar. But Chef Huck invented a new dish, making the posset into an appetizer by cutting the sugar in half and topping with lump crab, fresh corn, and dill. Oh, my! The acidic, lemony cream is delightful on its own, but becomes marvelous mixed with the crab, corn, and dill. One of the best dishes I have ever tasted. Catch it if you can! I plan to again, but not sharing next time.

Kev orders the Prime Ribeye, and I opt for Crawfish Bolognese. The 14-ounce steak is tender, juicy, and cooked to order, crowned with an elegant, earthy truffle “fondue.” Golden steak fries have the perfect crunch outside and fluffiness inside, bursting with comforting potato flavor. And grilled broccolini adds color and vibrant sweetness to the plate. No boring Bolognese here! My generous bowl is a scrumptious, spicy mix of succulent crawfish and smoked fennel sausage in a tasty tomato cream sauce, with green beans, and strozzapreti pasta, cooked al dente. A superb synthesis of textures and flavors. Both entrees are highly recommended!

Throughout dinner, Dean stops by to catch up and get our take on each course. He mentions my new cartoon, and we joke in relief as “That Guy!” has yet to discover Blueprint on 3rd.
For desserts, Kev selects the Homemade Banana Pudding, and I have Uncle Needmo’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. Bananas dominate the delicious pudding, and Kev especially enjoys that the crisp wafers encircle the bowl rather than being sunken and soggy. Having gotten a glimpse of pie before ordering it, I knew I would not need more! Chocolate on bottom, chocolate on top, and chocolate in the middle is counter balanced with two thick, dreamy layers of peanut butter in this epic dessert. Save room for this mile high pie is everything!

As we leave, Dean walks us to the door, where we head for the valet with one more inside joke…


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