As a die-hard Northern Quarter frequenter, Bluu is no stranger to me. Often the go-to bar for a pre-Blackdog Ballroom boogie, I was intrigued to see what my regular haunt would present to me with my weekday, sober eyes in place. And especially after a brand new re-vamp at that.
Bluu is so cool and jazzy it’s not even spelled correctly. And to be honest, the people that go there are way too fun to be concerned about grammar anyway. We were initially guided downstairs to Bluu’s intimate and sultry bar-within-a-bar, ‘Smithfield Social’. There’s a secretive, burlesque feel here for those who want a naughty prohibition era experience, with well partitioned, plump, velvet booths making for a perfectly private spot. Upstairs is the livelier, larger Bluu with plush, red leather sofas, lots of dance-floor space and a sizeable bar. The upbeat vibe here was further enlivened by DJs playing funk, soul and blues tunes from the likes of James Brown and Roy Ayers alongside an on-going backing track of sociable chatter. Private, atmospheric and cosy, or busy, sociable and spacious, it’s all there.
So I won’t lie. The sobriety didn’t last all that long due to there being two (yes, two!) separate cocktail menus to choose from. Smithfield Social’s wallet-sized pamphlet menu of smoked cocktails outlined the imaginative, and sometimes surprising ingredients involved. The sour-sweet yet fragrant Rosemary and Rhubarb Daiquiri came with a sprig of dehydrated, smoked rosemary in a super-thin aluminium martini glass vessel, making for a complete sensory experience.
Bluu’s cocktail menu is playfully split into four sections: something old, something new, something borrowed and something Bluu. From Bluu’s own range, the Eton Messy at £7.95 was a particular favourite; absolut vodka, raspberry syrup and cranberry juice with meringue crumbled on top – it was a berry nice drink.
The food menu centres on its exceptional slow-cooked, smoked meats. And boy, is it incredible. Prepped by being rubbed in flavour, the meat is left for 24 hours to marinate and then smoked ‘slow and low’. I ordered the lean, tasty and tender Beef Brisket (£14) in cooking juices with a side of pickles and some skin-on fries, and it was utterly delectable. My companion ordered the Beef Ribs and Honey & BBQ Glaze; the rack of ribs was so big they resembled some sort of prehistoric remains, and they were also a joy to eat. The mains came accompanied by a mini wooden crate of sauces in squirty bottles such as chilli vinegar, bastardo hot sauce and chipotle mayo that I unashamedly smothered all over my fries.
Who knew that my regular Saturday night location was also a fantastic eatery? Well, now I know, and I will certainly be going back there with friends for a casual meal in the afternoon as well as a dance come the night-time.