A Conversation with BR Guest Culinary Director Sam Hazen on Blue Fin’s Revamp

The Times Square restaurant recently underwent a complete renovation
Blue Fin

Blue Fin

Charred Spanish octopus with smoked paprika, olive oil potatoes, and romesco is a popular appetizer.

Blue Fin, the modern seafood restaurant at the W New York Times Square, officially re-opened in October after a redesign by Robert McKinley, known for his work on Sant Ambrose SoHo and Gold Bar. The space is sweeping in size, minimalist in décor, and safely tucked away from the chaos outside. My personal recommendation: get the lobster, prepared with breadcrumbs, out of the shell. I don’t know what sorcery they perform in the kitchen, but it comes out tasting like a toffee-coated crustacean—which, yes, is delicious. Sam Hazen, Culinary Director of Seafood at BR Guest Hospitality (the group that operates Blue Fin), filled the Daily Meal in on what’s new.

The Daily Meal: How was the new menu conceptualized?
Sam Hazen
: Chef Juan Carlos Ortega and I spent hours discussing the menu, looking at Blue Fin’s food history, what some of the favorites were and how could we create new favorites. The miso cod spring rolls, short rib raviolo, and grilled garlic butter stuffed calamari are some of those new additions. We also created a section on the sushi menu called “Boo-Shi” which are unique sushi dishes created by our Sushi Chef, Mike Boo.

What will fans of the "old" Blue Fin notice as new and improved, or different?
We changed the menu by 75 percent, with the main focus now being on market-driven seafood and vegetables. Chef Juan Carlos Ortega and I talk about the food daily and try to pay attention to what’s current, what’s in season and really take the dishes to the next level. For example, we put a great twist on the standard salted edamame by offering the BANG BANG Edamame, which is tossed in a Kung Pao sauce with peanuts. Our crispy pork belly lettuce wrap is a fun play on the squab lettuce wrap and we’ve also added our Sfoglini pasta from Brooklyn which has a king oyster mushroom Bolognese, a hearty vegetarian option.

Did you keep any old favorites on the menu?
The Brussels sprout Caesar salad and the glazed Chilean bass, because everybody loves those dishes!

What has the crowd been like since the reopening?
Being in the Times Square area, the clientele is always a moving target. The diners range from tourists to locals, along with many of our loyal clientele from surrounding businesses who are excited about the reopening. Various celebrities and Broadway cast members frequent the restaurant as well.

Do people actually take the "to go" theater snacks — the sweet popcorn and warm cookies — to the theater?
They do! The fun part is watching guests finish them before they actually leave for the theater.

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