Many restaurants will warn you that your dinner plate is hot. But at Black and Blue Crab and Steak, they really mean it. Before bringing out a steak, servers set a wooden charger on the table, along with the obligatory super sharp knife. The main attraction sizzles through the dining room on a metal plate at the new Burlington steak house before coming to rest on that charger. Seared at 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit—hot enough to melt silver—the 14-ounce Kansas City bone-in strip steak wears a beautiful char on the outside, with a juicy, tender medium rare interior.
Beef and seafood are the stars at Black and Blue, the first Massachusetts outpost of a popular upstate New York restaurant group built on warm hospitality, carefully sourced proteins, and an outstanding wine program.
Starters explore land and sea quite nicely. The summery Blue Crab Cocktail is more like a salad, featuring a generous portion of sweet North Atlantic blue crab atop a round of diced avocado and cucumber, surrounded with a drizzle of herb aioli. For hearty winter fare, try the Pork Belly, braised and marinated in an Asian-inflected sweet sauce and then seared to crisp perfection. Accompanied by a gingery carrot purée and a bright Brussels sprout slaw, it’s nicely balanced and unique.
It’s also a tricky dish to pair a wine with, but the staff at Black and Blue is up to the task. Blind tastings every Friday train servers to identify flavor characteristics in different grapes, and the flexible food-friendly list of 17 wines by the glass and 120 by the bottle gives them a lot of options to work with. Black and Blue’s other locations have been recognized with a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for their wine lists, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Burlington gained the same status.
The restaurant even offers some special wines by the glass, like the 2016 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, thanks to the Coravin wine preservation system. It doesn’t come cheap, at $42 per glass, but it might be just what a perfectly cooked steak demands.
Seeking something less intense? Pair the sea scallop main course with a glass of Pascal Jolivet Sancerre. The richness of the four plump, deeply seared scallops is perfectly balanced by a tart, slightly bitter lemon gastrique—a sweet-and-sour sauce generally made with vinegar and sugar—and enhanced by a silky potato-parsnip purée. It’s almost tailor-made for a French sauvignon blanc.
Because Black & Blue is a steak house, of course there are hearty sides. The French fries, made from “aged” potatoes, are extremely addictive, served with a delicious herb aioli. Want to be truly indulgent? Ask for ketchup as well, and dip in both. For something completely different, order the dumplings. A bit like slices of sweet potato bread pudding, the dumplings are a blend of sweet potato whipped with semolina flour, rosemary, and brown sugar, deep fried and then glazed with maple syrup. They’re actually sweet enough for dessert—or if your eyes are bigger than your stomach, they hold up beautifully for breakfast the next morning. Another unique side is the mac & cheese; made with orzo, a tiny rice-sized pasta, it’s a bit like mac & cheese risotto.
After such a hearty meal, perhaps just an after-dinner drink would suit; the restaurant offers an interesting list of ports and amaros (Italian bittersweet liquors). That’s not to say Black and Blue doesn’t offer some great sweet endings. The vanilla bean crème brûlée is luscious and soothing, without being overindulgent. But it’s wintertime, so overindulge in the peanut butter oreo mousse, a layered parfait of nutty goodness.
400 District Ave., Burlington, 781-365-1626, blackandbluesteakandcrab.com/burlington-ma owner Charles Fitzsimmons.