Restaurant News & Reviews

Los Osos' Blue Heron serves up 'contemporary coastal seafood' by the bay

California yellowtail is served with forbidden rice, zucchini, carrot, bok choy, snap peas, cilantro chimichurri and citrus relish at Blue Heron restaurant in Baywood Park.
California yellowtail is served with forbidden rice, zucchini, carrot, bok choy, snap peas, cilantro chimichurri and citrus relish at Blue Heron restaurant in Baywood Park. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

As Baywood Park’s Blue Heron glides towards its one year anniversary, the seafood-focused restaurant is spreading its wings as a destination spot for locals and visitors alike.

Blue Heron is part of the bayside property that’s also home to the Back Bay Inn and Back Bay Café. All three are owned by local resident Bill Lee, as is the nearby five-acre farm that provides much of the restaurants’ produce and fresh chicken eggs.

The meticulously lush grounds at Blue Heron offer patrons a variety of outdoor dining scenarios.

Enjoy a cheese plate and a glass of wine while soaking up the sunset on the patio. Grab a pint of craft beer and settle into one of the comfy Adirondack chairs on the lawn. Or spend a lazy Sunday morning noshing on freshly baked pastries and sipping mimosas around one of the cozy fire pits.

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Blue Heron restaurant in Baywood Park evokes a modern nautical theme with rich aquamarine walls and copper-topped tables. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Inside the dining room, copper-topped tables are complemented by mid-century modern chairs, and rich aquamarine walls showcase natural elements such as stone, coral and white-washed driftwood.

The inviting design evokes a modern nautical theme, said Shaun Behrens, director of food and beverage operations for the properties. (He previously worked as executive chef at Robin’s in Cambria and Luna Red in San Luis Obispo.)

Behrens added that all of the craftsmanship was provided by artisans from Los Osos and Baywood Park.

An open kitchen format lets patrons see Blue Heron’s cohesive culinary staff at work.

Chef de cuisine Bryan Robles has been on board since August and stepped into his current position in January. A Los Angeles native, he attended Pasadena’s Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts right out of high school. After some overseas travel, Robles worked with Roy Yamaguchi at Roy’s in Pasadena and staged, or, interned, at Mélisse in Santa Monica.

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Grassy Bar oysters are served with a citrus mignonette, pepper-horseradish sauce, soy citrus ponzu and sea beans at Blue Heron in Baywood Park. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Landing at Blue Heron represents a return of a different kind for Robles. He grew up coming to memorable family vacations at his aunt and uncle’s house in Los Osos.

“Being able to execute my career here is a dream opportunity,” he said.

Robles describes Blue Heron’s cuisine as “contemporary coastal seafood that’s seasonally influenced.” “We want to portray the bounty of the land with the utmost respect,” he added.

In the hands of Blue Heron’s culinary team, that farm-to-table philosophy translates to a dedicated from-scratch approach that includes filleting whole fish in-house, tenderly simmering soup stocks for as long as two days, and making pickles and fermented salsas. Everything possible is utilized, either in the kitchen or as food scraps for the farm’s chickens.

Blue Heron’s dinner menu changes frequently. Recent favorites include local Grassy Bar oysters on the half-shell with pepper-horseradish sauce, as well as Mary’s organic chicken confit ravioli with mushroom Parmesan crème.

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At Blue Heron restaurant in Baywood Park, pan-seared hanger Steak comes with crispy fingerling potatoes, glazed farm vegetables, cumin carrot purée and salsa verde. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Another popular option is the Baywood Burger, served with housemade potato chips or salad.

The burger is also available for Sunday brunch, as is a delicate omelet filled with farm-fresh sautéed vegetables and breakfast tacos with short rib and scrambled eggs on housemade blue corn tortillas.

From May through October, when Blue Heron hosts the popular Beer at the Pier music series on Mondays, the restaurant offers casual outdoor barbecue options such as sausage sandwiches and street corn. Beer, wine and cider are available during concerts, as well as at dinner and brunch.

“It feels like we’re really starting to understand our place and our concept,” Behrens observed. Decisions such as “committing to being open seven days a week has helped develop a lot of trust with our customers, and this is one of the most connected and talented teams I’ve ever worked with – it’s really a family.”

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The lush grounds at Blue Heron restaurant in Baywood Park offer patrons a variety of outdoor dining scenarios. David Middlecamp dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Blue Heron

1305 Second St., Los Osos

805-540-2828 or blueheronbaywood.com

Hours: 4 to 6 p.m. happy hour and 5 to 9 p.m. dinner daily. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday brunch.

The scene: Take your pick of indoor or outdoor ambiance at this inviting bayside destination.

The cuisine: Local ingredients are thoughtfully presented in seafood-focused, farm-to-table cuisine such as entrées, small plates and burgers. Craft draft beer is available, as well as local and international wine selections.

Expect to spend: Small plates and starters $10 to $20, dinner entrées $18 to $35, Sunday brunch entrées $14 to $20.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Blue Heron's chef de cuisine as Bryan Flores.

Katy Budge is a freelance writer from Atascadero. Contact her at ktbudge@sbcglobal.net.
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