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Blue Velvet: Welcome back to the 80s

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Inside downtown’s Blue Velvet, the vibe is sleek, dark, and moodily reminiscent of the 80s, in the unisex bathroom with its clever sinks and puzzling lack of mirrors, and via the waitresses, whose severe miniskirts make them look like those endless rows of models in old Robert Palmer videos. “Addicted to Love,” anyone?

Despite the 80s trappings, Blue Velvet aspires to be a fine dining destination restaurant, and succeeds based on its ambitious menu, thanks to chef Kris Morningstar, who has worked at Patina – one of the city’s great generators of new chefs – and Meson G. The space, in the ground floor of The Flat, a former Holiday Inn now renovated into rental apartments, is on the less-commercial west side of the 110. There’s no other hotspot within walking distance.

The food takes itself very seriously and expects customers to do the same. Fine glassware and china are set on the table. Cutlery is changed with every course. The chef sent out an amuse-gueule of salmon tartare, a perfect combination of salty and tart flavors and soft and crunchy texture. The starters are arrayed on their plates like edible concepts; the lobster cassoulet included a puddle of perfectly-cooked flageolets in a tomatoey reduction, set off by a boudin noir (French blood sausage) bread pudding topped by several small pieces of lobster that were tender and tasty. The fondue salad, another starter, was similarly complex: a pool of melted Cantal cheese surmounted by two tiny grilled-cheese sandwiches, offset by a circle of microgreens. There is one apparently simple starter on the menu, a butter lettuce salad with marcona almonds, but somehow I expect chef Morningstar has found a way to bring simple greens to a new level.