I just don’t understand blue point

Maybe because it was considered the first unofficial high-end restaurant in Cleveland that brought attention to the downtown dining scene (although I think Johnny’s and Baricelli were already established), but I just don’t get why so many people love Blue Point. And I will admit, the first time I ate there, probably 8 years ago on a date, I was impressed. Ah – Blue Point. Finally, my chance to go to the place I’ve heard so much about and that’s been sought after by so many. I remember seeing Mike Fratello and thinking this was the coolest place ever. I did enjoy the lobster mashed potatoes and mussels, but was more into being there than the food. From various family functions to business meetings, I have been back several times (and will probably eat there again). Let’s just say the company and conversations have always been better than the food. It’s not that I dislike the food – it’s not horrible by any stretch and some things are pretty good; I just don’t think it’s as fabulous as its reputation or even that must dine place when celebrating something special. I can think of several other places that would be more appropriate (Flying Fig, Lola, Baricelli, Table 45, etc.). To me, Blue Point is nothing more than a glorified Red Lobster (I can hear the disagreements now, especially amongst my siblings).


  1. Anonymous
    Posted August 1, 2007 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    a glorified red lobster?

    WOW…that’s either ballsy or ignorant…can’t decide which…alhough i would lean towards the ignorant…

    fyi i’m in the “business” and fine your commentary, while interesting, fairly typical of food “snobs”…baricelli is overated and overpriced …battuto never took the time to market themselves properly (like most chef driven restaurants they market themselves rather than the restaurant…EGOS) and table 45 will be out of business within a year…location location location…other than san souci name me one restaurant that has made it that resides in a hotel? Century – gone/ Classics – gone…and i’m talking about “business”…just because your open for a few years doesn’t mean you made it as a restaurant…

    PERFECT example of a chef-driven restaurant: met with the owner of venenzia Moha Orchid recently…he’s in the process of trying to sell his place and move back to NYC…he has absolutely nothing but contempt and hatred for this town…we are all a bunch of “meat and potato” eaters according to him and there isn’t a chef in Cleveland with 1/10 the talent as him…we don’t appreciate the greatness of his talent…was quite the meltdown…so anyway if anybody’s looking to open up a restaurant his place is on the market…the sooner he leaves our fair city the better…

    still shaking my head about the Blue Point comment though…

  2. Allison M.
    Posted August 2, 2007 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Never really had any desire to eat there.

  3. michelle v
    Posted August 2, 2007 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Thanks, anonymous, for taking the time to post your opinion. I appreciate it and love the feedback/opposing view. Maybe my Red Lobster comment is a little of both, but it’s just one person’s opinion. Obviously people love that place. They are always packed, when people come in from out of town, that is the place they know to go to, etc. Blue Point will continue to do very well in Cleveland for years – and I hope they do, I hate when business close in this town. But I don’t think Blue Point would have the same success in a 2nd or 1st tier market. And while I know many people that love that place, including most of my siblings, I just think the food is ok. I respect the business and reputation they have created, but when it comes to the food, there are many other places I would choose to dine at first.

    Regarding Battuto, I’m not sure why they closed but would love to find out. I think we all have our theories. As far as how they marketed themselves, I can say they had something that clients pay me for to try to duplicate: word of mouth. I work for a full service PR/Advertising firm and one of the things we hear repeatedly from both local and national clients is help us create word of mouth – b/c people know word of mouth is the BEST form of advertising/PR. It’s not a new tactic; it’s as old as marketing itself. But people trust what they hear from friends, familiy, etc. WOM can make or break a business. Just as fast as positive WOM spreads, negative spreads even faster and is that much harder to overcome. I have no idea how Battuto marketed themselevs, if they did anything at all, but they were talkable and received a lot of business on word of mouth alone. Maybe Battuto didn’t know enough about the business end and just concentrated on the food aspect, which they did remarkably well. Like Zack said in my interview with him, the cooking part is easy, but it’s not easy to figure out how to run a business.

  4. Gina Ventre
    Posted August 2, 2007 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    My Blue Point experiences have been quite fine – great food, impeccable service. I recommend it to out of towners looking for a downtown dining experience.

    I do agree with Anonymous above (why anonymous?) with regards to the owner of Venezia – if he has nothing but contempt for Cleveland, then move back to NYC and try to open a place there.

  5. Anonymous
    Posted August 2, 2007 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    I took several people to Venezia once they had been open for a little while and we couldn’t have had a poorer experience. It was a weekday lunch and took over 2 hours. No ice in the pop, one lone server for whom English was barely a 2nd language (she didn’t understand when one of our companions said she was vegetarian) and the food was just ‘ok.’ We never went back.

    I don’t think that many people think blue point is the best restaurant in town or anything, and don’t get where your vitriol comes from. I think it’s a decent “player” with many of the other semi-upscale and upscale establishments, like Johnny’s, Mallorca.

    I also went to Battuto only once. Service was terrible, we were brought things we didn’t ask for and charged for them (multiple bottles of expensive water), our friend, a vegetarian, was treated pretty rudely with several back and forth trips to the kitchen because they had no suggestions of anything to make for her (there were no Veg. dishes on the menu and they insisted she should just ‘make something up,’ not knowing what items they had in the kitchen, this would be tough – how often do you to go a restaurant and tell them how to create your dish without any idea what they have on hand?). “Salads” before the meal were absolutely nothing in the bowl but lettuce and dressing. We never went back there either.

    There are too many other good restaurants in town to have to keep giving 2nd and 3rd chances to places like this when you have a bad experience. To me, it’s experiences like mine as to why they are going out of business.

  6. michelle v
    Posted August 2, 2007 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    My “vitriol” (wow, I haven’t heard that word since science class)comes from my opinion of the place and experiences there. I don’t feel I was overly rude towards the place – I said they have some good items, great reputation/following and that I hope they continue to do well b/c I don’t want to see any place close. I just don’t think it’s as great as it’s cracked up to be and would much rather eat at a number of other places. Hey, it’s a food blog, I’m going to express my views on places, good and bad. And again, that’s the beauty of an opinion, we all have them and no one is right or wrong.

    As for your experience at Battuto, that really sucks. I’ve actually heard that from a few other vegetarians. Sorry you had such a lousy time there. I’ve really had some of my favorite meals there and it’s a shame you can’t say the same.

  7. Tim Ferris
    Posted August 2, 2007 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    My grandmother always said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” So I won’t. How’s that, grandma?

  8. Michael Walsh
    Posted August 2, 2007 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    Michelle, i think your depiction of Blue Point is point on. I couldn’t have said it better myself. I was sous chef there for close to three years, about 4 years ago. As a restuarant, and a business they do the best job in town that i’ve experianced. As a chef driven foodie destination, they fall short.

    I remember sitting in on a managers meeting where Michael Sanson was a guest speaker and he went on to say that no matter how good the food got at Blue Point it wouldn’t attract any more customers, but the management philosophy they have in place, and their committment to customer service would draw in both old and new customers. I remember these comments because i glared over at the corperate chef, who had the biggest smile, and this is when i decided it was time for me to move on as i had a passion for food.

    The food at Blue Point is the freshest and most consistant food i’ve experianced in my career. Pete Joyce by night, and Mario Cisneros my day do the best job in the city. No fish lasts more than 3 days, oyters go by the case, and business levels are such that nothing has time to age before it is sold.

    I haven’t been able to so much as give away for free as an amuse a oyster on the half shell, but Blue point goes through 3 or 4 cases (400pcs) on a busy week-end. I would not eat an oyster anywhere in Cleveland except Blue Point.

    The menu at Blue Point is the most customer friendly menu in town. There is something for everyone, and very little challenging to understand. The staple items have not changed in years, because they are what people want. Grouper with lobster mash potato is the absolutly most successful dish in Cleveland, and it’s a beautiful thing when you think about how many kids went to scool, how many houses where bought, cars financed, vacations taken because of the wonderful simplicity of this dish.

    I suggest Blue point for oyster, and the experiance. The food is of superior quality, while overall creativity is lacking, but like you said Michaelle, you can’t say you don’t like it, and for this reason we will be back.

  9. hot coffee girl
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Okay, let’s get something straight here. I get that not everyone that comes to a site will agree with the author’s opinions. That’s what makes blogs such a rich and interesting medium. But I have just about had it with people who have no problem ponying up their insults but not even their names. Michelle, you have much more patience with this than I do. Perhaps the negativity is a testament to just how passionate people are about food. (/rant)

    Now that I have that out of the way…

    I have never eaten at Blue Point, but I kind of feel the same way about Ken Stewart’s down in Akron. I have been there several times (because of work, or other people choosing the place) and I have always kind of shrugged my shoulders in wonder. The food’s decent and the service is good. But I don’t think it earned the reputation as THE PLACE to go. It seems more to me as the place to see and be seen than a place for really excellent food.


  10. Anonymous
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    QUOTE: That’s what makes blogs such a rich and interesting medium. But I have just about had it with people who have no problem ponying up their insults but not even their names.

    and your NAME is “hot coffee girl”????


    FYI… I’m the anonymous that started this thread with the first post…i believe that Michael Walsh made the point (better than i did) that i was trying to allude to…there IS something to be said for consistency, quality, customer service, etc. To me the most SUCCESSFUL restaurants are the ones that stay in business! I also think the Red Lobster comparison was way off base. I don’t necessarily buy into the whole “foodie” angle…to me it’s kind of self-absorbed…at the end of the day and from my viewpoint…if you are a chef and own a restaurant your “passion for food” doesn’t mean squat if you can’t pay the bills!

    Full disclosure: I own a small marketing firm and have been in the restuarant marketing business since the early 90’s.. I have restaurant clients locally as well as nationally and work for some of the most respected chefs in the WORLD…to say i’m not impressed whether or not this chef does this or this dish is that would be an understatement.

    Blue Point has been a client of mine since the day it opened and i would recommend that any chef or “foodie” who is serious about opening up a restaurant study their business model very carefully…i guess the point i’m trying to make and the angle that i come from is that i have seen soooooo many “chef-driven” restaurants come and go (do the names Piperade, Wilsher Grille ring a bell?) that perhaps i’m a bit jaded about the whole “foodie” “passion for food” thing…also i find that most (but definitely not all) of the chef-driven restaurants are the hardest to deal with due to the EGOS that these people have…note my venenzia comments above…

    as for posting as anonymous i will dispense doing so from here on out…I like this blog and think Michelle offers a unique forum that this city desperately needs (we should talk business)…i hope that i offer another viewpoint that adds to the discussion…

    anyway…in honor of “hot coffe girl” my moniker will now be from here on out “cold beer guy”.

  11. hot coffee girl
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Fair enough, Cold Beer.

    -Kelly Gruver the Hot Coffee Girl

  12. michelle v
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Michael. And good luck w/ the grand opening of Wonder Bar. The pictures on your blog look great. Best of luck.

  13. Anonymous
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Negativity has a way of breeding negativity. So if you bloggers don’t want people to react in a certain way, then be more skilled in posting. A skilled writer and thinker can make a point without having to resort to calling something a glorified something else. That is just plain lazy, and IMHO you got what you had coming from anonymous.

    While on the subject, is the Hot Coffee Girl posting here to complain about “insults” and “negativity” not the same person who dedicated an entire post to mocking someone for being fat and for choosing certain clothes? And isn’t this the same Hot Coffee Girl, who, when called out by one of her commenters for being mean, reacted by digging through the IP addresses to identify where this person worked in order to “out” them? And isn’t it a fact that the person that Hot Coffee Girl is defending ended a post by taking a completely off-base pot shot? Even assuming that the commenter negativity was unjustified (which it wasn’t), I’m not sure that this Hot Coffee Girl is well-positioned to be the one to complain.

    In addition to the Red Lobster shot, the other issue at work here is that, besides apparently having been provided with the means to eat out a lot, you haven’t shown the qualifications to justify a lot of your opinions. And that is why when you make negative comments that are out of line, people who do have the qualifications slam you.

    It’s nice that you have started this blog to provide a layperson’s views on dining experiences. It has the potential to be a great resource for folks.

  14. michelle v
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Wow. On one hand, I’m glad a post has sparked a lot of debate. On the other, why the need to poke shots? I would expect these types of reactions if this was a political or religion blog, but never from food. While I appreciate your comments and thank you for reading the blog, I don’t want any bashing between posters, ok?

    I honetly don’t feel I was out of line by saying a glorified Red Lobster. That’s my opinion after having dined there several times. I said I can appreciate and respect the reputation and good business practices – and I meant that. And I said I liked some of their items. And I do hope they continue to do well. It’s not my favorite place and I’m sure you have places you don’t think too highly of, but others adore.

    And as far as showing my qualifications, I believe I’ve written several times that I’m not a professional. I pay attention, I read, I cook most nights, I know a thing or two about business, and am pretty much just obsessed with all things food. I never claimed to be anything more. My comments are not out of line. You don’t have to be a professional to have an opinion about what places you like and don’t like. And I really don’t have to justify anything beyond that.

  15. michelle v
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    By the way, read over all the comments. One of the posters, a chef – a professional – happened to agree with me.

  16. hot coffee girl
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    Please…this blog has nothing to do with what I talk about on mine. I like reading Michelle and I respect her opinions about food, even when I don’t agree with them. If anyone has anything to say about my site…come do it there.

    Michelle-I am sorry that this thread got so far off topic.

  17. michelle v
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

    No need to apologize, it’s ok.

    And as for my anonymous posters, I will concede by saying maybe calling it a glorified RL was a bit much. Obviously from my comments above, I think more highly of BP than a RL, just not nearly as high as others.

  18. Michael Walsh
    Posted August 3, 2007 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Michelle, If there is one thing that i’ve learned the past few months while blogging and the cleveland.com food forum is that no one likes to hear anything negative. Which is amazing to me because this vail of negativity seems quite prevelant in our daily media.

    I posted some reviews on my blog early on, and while i was completely honest, i got lambasted by people who screamed, “who are you to judge” well i’m a customer, and with a blog, or a forum i have a voice and as long as i’m being honest and truthful about my experiance then there should be nothing wrong….well this is not how people think around here i guess.

    It’s a shame, because there are ups and downs, and there are good things and bad things. It’s like when i hire a line cook, and i test them, i make a sauce as it should be, and let them taste it, they usually say, “oh chef it’s so good” and i stare at them hopeing for something more inspired, the real test comes when i add a whole lot of salt, let them taste it, watch their eyes swell up, and they say, “oh chef that is so good” well, then i fire them because they will not every help my kithchen.

    I think as resoponsable foodies, we should feel free to exchange opinions about both the good and bad things we see, experiance. I don’t know who these people are that live in fairy tail land where everything is happy days, pink flowers, and smiley face stickers.

  19. michelle v
    Posted August 4, 2007 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Michael, for sharing more of your thoughts and experiences. Too funny about the salt. As far as the negative posters, that really amazes me. For me at least, I never encounter such negativity from my coworkers, peers, and all other people I encounter on a daily basis. But give someone a keyboard and the idea of being invinsible, and it’s amazing what comes out of their mouth. This was just a little taste. I agree w/ you on the food forum, people can get nasty there – and many other places as well. I guess peope have a lot of pent up anger they need to get out!

    Looking forard to trying your place!

  20. Anonymous
    Posted August 4, 2007 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Totally agree.

  21. Anonymous
    Posted August 4, 2007 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Agree about Battuto…. huge EGOS!!!!! That’s why they closed.

  22. M.
    Posted August 7, 2007 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Wow, I can’t believe how heated people get over restaurants. I guess if you have a financial stake in them, you would become defensive. Michelle, I also loved Battuto’s food. I used to work there. But I also agree with Michael about their attitudes. They refused to change ANYTHING for their customers.

    If you are getting a lot of vegetarians, offer them something. As an omnivore, I get annoyed by vegetarian requests, but it’s business. If people request bread at dinner, offer it. Don’t turn your nose up to your “client base.” (I hate that term, but it fits.)
    Maybe this is what Michael meant about “marketing.” Some chef-driven restaurants take it as an insult customers give suggestions.

  23. Denny
    Posted August 16, 2007 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know much about Cleveland, but as for the chef of the Venezia (Moha Orchid) I can tell you that he’s a fantastic chef. His talents are huge in the kitchen. You should taste his Maroccan cuisine! The flavors are sublime and his ice creams and sorbets are to die for, such delicate flavors and aromas.

    I had wondered where he moved to, as he told us a few years ago that he was leaving NYC. I googled him today and found this site and his restaurant site. If he’s really trying to come back to NYC, then great for us here and it’s Cleveland’s loss. ANYBODY can make pasta with red sauce, or put “ice in the pop.”

    Sheer luck that I found this site, but I left my opinion and I won’t be popping in here again.

  24. Anonymous
    Posted August 17, 2007 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    My understanding is that Battuto closed because the husband and wife owners were divorcing and decided they couldn’t continue to work together.

  25. Annabelle
    Posted September 3, 2007 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    I have to agree with you Michelle. Everytime someone tells me they are going downtown to eat at Blue Point, I have to ask them why? I think Suburanites eat at Blue Point because they don’t know where else to eat. If I didn’t have you and the other girls spouting off all the great restaurants in the area, I may eat at Blue Point still too. Blue Point is not a bad restaurant, however, I can cook this at home. As far as restaurants go, if I am spending $100 or more for two, I want something that I can’t make at home….I want something eclectic. While Blue Point may be consistent, I still think it’s “consistently boring”. Some of the other restaurants need to start advertising in the local suburban papers….so that the folks that don’t have you to help them, know where the heck to eat! Great Blog, by the way! And I had no idea you had foot surgery??? Okay, talk to you later.