BY BRYAN LAVERY
Photographs by Steve Grimes
Blu Duby owners, Joe and Cheryl Duby, have built a diverse and loyal clientele by combining an accessible menu and wine list with upbeat ambience. The restaurant is a hybrid of casual dining and fine dining. Their vision has been to create a community, bound together by relationships with their team of hospitality professionals and a "remarkable dining experience". The Duby’s have created an atmosphere where people can come and enjoy a drink at the bar, a few appetizers or a full dining experience in a casual, yet elegant venue. Their goal: “A remarkable experience designed to accommodate every budget.” The result: a casual streamlined operation with a recession-friendly, contemporary menu, that appeals to a broad demographic.The restaurant achieved the Duby's goal of being remarkable right from day one by providing a warm and welcoming ambience with plenty of style. Opening to immediate success in mid-July 2012, in the revitalized interior of a former warehouse (briefly the late but lamented Braise Restaurant) and adjacent to the boutique hotel, Metro, in downtown London.
Joe Duby is a well-known restaurant professional with years of solid experience and a large and loyal following. He had spent the eight years managing Waldo's on King before embarking on Blu Duby. Cheryl Duby is an admired and well-respected businessperson, co-founder and President of Bigger Solutions Inc., and President of International Automotive Solutions. Both of the Duby’s are hands-on.Together, the Dubys picked a team of dynamic hospitality professionals who are known for their customer service skills, clever repartee, and wit. They realize that there is not a single member of a restaurant staff whose behaviour does not affect the patron's experience, in one way or another. Daytime manager Mathew Mckenzie, William McKillop, Ray Nernberg, Scott MacDonald, and Toni Mansilla make up just part of the winning team. Part of the Duby’s acumen has been to employ the perfect blend of critical talent.
The restaurant’s cooking repertoire keeps changing, and the presentation is both stylish and contemporary. The culinary team prepares most everything in-house from scratch. Chef Jamie Craig's casual bistro-style selections and tantalizing vegetarian choices are on offer, as well as many comfort food favourites that have been updated and re-imagined. Craig brings a culinary philosophy of appreciation for fresh quality commodities and consistent proper preparation. In addition to his passion for cooking, Craig finds great satisfaction in helping to discover and develop the talents of younger chef apprentices. He keeps his own skills current and sharp by participating in tasting events and culinary festivals like Savour Stratford and Canada's Gold Medal Plate event.
Join Blu Duby for appetizers and wine, a quick lunch, or an upbeat evening of remarkable service in a high-energy environment. Contemporary bistro-style selections and tantalizing vegetarian choices are on offer, as well as many classic favourites that have been updated. The restaurant’s cooking repertoire keeps evolving, and the presentation is both stylish and simple. The menu is an eclectic collection of Asian, Continental and Mediterranean influences and features items such as vegetarian spring rolls, Moroccan skewered chicken, grilled lamb lollipops as well as roasted rack of lamb, or grilled beef tenderloin.
Blu Duby offers lunch engineered to fit into the most limited break, perfect for busy professionals working Downtown. You will find everything from comfort food in the braised beef onion poutine to light, healthy fare in a variety of fresh salads. With many gluten-free choices and vegetarian options to choose from, diners are certain to find something to enjoy. Recommendations include: hand-rolled gnudi and rocket (arugula); crispy-skinned salmon; and of course, Malaysian pad Thai with coconut milk, ginger, tamarind, brown sugar bean, cilantro, green onions and cashews.Small plates include: fresh mussels with micro-frites and a choice of sauces, Asian-inspired spring rolls with shrimp, and seafood potato skins with aged cheddar chive-crème fraiche.
Other notable items on offer have included: supreme of chicken is stuffed with leeks and walnuts and served with a sauce of garlic and cream; jalapeño mac and cheese with conchiglie, lardons and panko breading can also be served as a vegetarian option; duo of duck with seared breast and leg confit with black currant demi-glace and roasted garlic mash.
The restaurant features a diverse wine list offering wines at a variety of price points with half the list by the glass. The list features wines from both mainstream regions as well as off the beaten path.On weekend nights the restaurant draws a solid bar crowd. The dinner business is strong and the restaurant has become a downtown lunch hot spot. Walk-in business is always encouraged, and the star attractions are the hospitable owners and the staff. The Dubys also have an expertise for the corporate and private dining sector of the business. Several separate areas can be easily transformed into private dining rooms to accommodate parties. There is also small outdoor patio on Dundas Street.