Blue on Highland, Needham, MA

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | May 12th, 2011 | Chef Interviews

If you’re contemplating a night out at a fine restaurant, perhaps Boston is the destination of choice.  However, if you want to stay away from the traffic and parking delights of that city, why not look to the west?  Just thirty minutes outside, you will find Blue on Highland, located in Needham.  With fewer headaches, and food and atmosphere to rival any Boston restaurant, it is the perfect choice.

I spoke with Chef Peter Tartsinis to learn more about this dining destination.

TT: Your dinner menu has a variety of ethnic dishes, from Thai to Italian to French.  What is your inspiration for menu items?

CT: The inspiration for our menu at Blue on Highland comes from our experimentation with various flavor profiles. We haven’t defined ourselves as a specific cuisine, which allows for a lot of interplay when it comes to what we put on the plate for our customers. I think we also like to keep our menu fresh, interesting and sometimes a little out-of-the-box. While there are some staples on the menu, we always want our clientele to experience new dishes.

TT: Are you able to source any of your ingredients locally or work with a regional farm?

CT: We’re working more and more with local farms and farmer’s markets as well as some great and well known local vendors, including Kinnealey Meats, Captain Marden’s Seafoods & Sid Wainer & Son.

TT: Do you change your menu weekly, monthly, seasonally?

CT: Our menu changes seasonally, but  from time to time we will change, augment, add new items, or take items off based on what might be selling or the feedback we’re getting from our customers. I wouldn’t call it a science since I think a menu is a living entity that ebbs and flows with the needs of the customer and with what works best for the restaurant.

TT: What is your favorite dinner item on the menu?

CT: That’s tough, there are so many great things here that I personally love. The bucatini  with mini-lamb meatballs and hand-crushed tomato sauce, while simple, is one of my favorites. We also do a risotto of the day which is always pretty amazing!

TT: You have a jazz brunch on Sundays.  Do you have live music on other days?

CT: Currently we only do the Jazz brunch, and I don’t think we’ll be expanding beyond that. There are a lot of great places to hear live music in Boston and our Jazz brunches are great, but that’s not who we are. We are first and foremost a pretty versatile and welcoming restaurant with amazing food and an even better atmosphere. The Jazz brunch was born out of our customers welcoming it, and one of the owners is actually a musician…and that’s pretty much us in the nutshell. “Blue” is unique.

You may have a great neighborhood restaurant where you live, and then you may have your favorite ‘city’ restaurant, and then there’s the place you love to hang out with your friends. We’re lucky enough to be all those rolled into one. It’s really great to see people hang out at the bar after work and then show up with their significant others on a date night, and then come in with their family for brunch. I hesitate to say we’re able to be everything for everyone….but, we kind of are.

TT: What makes Blue on Highland a unique restaurant?

CT: I’m not really sure how to answer this. I mean there is so much. I guess it boils down to the people. We have amazing people on both sides of the fence. Our customers are pretty amazing, and we’re lucky to have such a loyal customer-base. That being said, I’ve never seen a staff that works so hard to make sure everyone is happy. From the front of the house to the back of the house it’s a tight ship, and of all the restaurants I’ve worked in I’ve never seen such a synergy. It’s also a pretty magical place especially during the summer. When the giant bay windows slide open and you’re eating great food and drinking fabulous cocktails and talking to your family and friends it just feels right. I guess it’s like a club you’re instantly part of once you sit down.

To learn more about Blue on Highland, please visit their website.

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