Blua serves Balkan-inspired snacks and cocktails. The name is a combination of the words “blooming” and “dua,” a word which means love in Albanian.
You’d never know the dreamy 39-seat space was once a sports bar, as it’s been completely gutted. An ornate couch and communal wooden tables contrast with a more industrial island ringed by metal bar stools, hanging plants and flickering faux candles everywhere.
Artistic touches include an ethereal mural and a chalkboard wall, representing the personality, family history, and memories Blua is meant to reflect.
Charcuterie tops out as the most expensive item at $20, most other tapas-like nibbles are $10 or under. European meats and cheeses include soft and hard goat cheeses, a 12-year gouda, a very tough but fatty and flavourful Balkan dried veal and Rosette pork salami.
The strong, salty cheeses and meats are balanced out by thinly sliced red and green apple, fresh grapes, smashed figs, and some mildly funky marinated olives, the whole thing drizzled in sticky sweet honey seasoned with paprika in the traditional Balkan fashion.
Balkan fries ($7) are available in regular or sweet potato form, topped with green onion, feta, the same paprika honey drizzle and a sweetly smoky house ajvar of roasted pepper and eggplant (available on its own with bread for $4).
Blooming Love ($13) is a smoothie-like concoction of vodka, Greek yogurt, apricot jam, peach and lemon that strangely works.
It’s quickly apparent the cocktails are as beautiful as the surroundings, all garnished with flowers and dried fruit or herbs. They not only enhance the look of the drinks, but the experience as well with different aromas.
An Olive Oil Sour ($14) blends traditional raki with Cointreau, olive oil, sea salt, grapefruit and lemon, all topped with a smooth egg white cap decorated with drops of Angostura bitters and olive oil. All those ingredients considered, the end result is actually quite light and mild.
Liquid Garden ($13) is based on an aromatic cucumber-and-dill-infused gin, lifted even further by green apple and lemon, rounded out with a little dash of bitter, golden Aperol.
If you’re curious about where the infused spirits are sourced from, just take a look over your shoulder: they’re all made in house.
An eccentric but chill mix of anything from Method Man to Van Morrison to Ashlee Simpson suits the boho ambience. The kitchen is open until 11:30, drinks served until last call.