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Big time Boston chef hangs his apron in Cohasset

Blu mussel restaurant cohasset

Photo for the Boston Globe by Jamie Cotten


It’s nice seeing Blu Mussel chef-owner Anthony Ambrose step into the dining room to visit a table or talk with guests. Ambrose made his name when he opened his first restaurant, Ambrosia on Huntington, in the early ‘90s. Among the many accolades it received, Esquire named it one of the top 25 best new restaurants in the country and Bon Appetit called it one of Boston’s best. Ambrose’s first job in Boston was under chef Jasper White at Jaspers. Among his other big influences, Ambrose credits his time studying with French chef Olivier Roellinger and his work as executive chef at Seasons in The Bostonian Hotel.

Blu Mussel restaurant Cohasset

Photo for the Boston Globe by Jamie Cotten


Located on Route 3A where the former Great Neck Grille used to be, Blu Mussel has been totally renovated. Tired of formal dining scenes, the chef-restaurateur has fashioned the 100-plus seat space to have a rustic feel. Walls and half-walls define different dining areas, passageways, a bar, and a lounge. There’s a street-side room that has the restaurant’s only windows (oh, if only they could be flung open in summer!), massive hanging barn doors that slide shut for private parties, and a fireplace. The bar takes up one side of the restaurant, and the adjacent lounge area has banquettes and cozy, low coffee tables made of six-inch-thick rounds cut from trees. A central, glass vault shows off wine, and servers cut bread at a butcher-block table in a walkway area. It’s been a tough spot for previous restaurants, but Ambrose has made Blu Mussel a pretty place.

Blu Mussel restaurant Cohasset

Photo for the Boston Globe by Jamie Cotten


First of all, the green curry and coconut blu mussel appetizer ($14) deserves to have a restaurant named after it. Served in a big, pleasing asymmetrical bowl, the lemony, coconut broth is as heavenly as the little mussels. I sipped a cup of it by the spoonful.

On each of three visits, the menu was a bit different. Ambrose says that 80 percent of the dishes will be constants, and that he’ll swap out a few others here and there.

I can tell you that the meaty Bolognese ($22) with the house-made, al dente fettuccini isn’t going anywhere soon. We enjoyed the chicken and fresh lemon pasta ($19), too, and were charmed by its frilly ballerine pasta. If I were choosing among meaty pastas, I’d take the Bolognese over the spaghetti and meatballs ($19), although the fresh spaghetti in it is great. Pasta plates are big (Ambrose doesn’t want anybody to leave hungry), and the kitchen is very obliging about splitting ours.

The fried fish in the tempura fish and chips ($21) is the best fried fish I’ve ever had. The batter is light but very crispy — just perfect. I needed classic tartar sauce, though, and not the sweet house version. (I will ask for some next time.) One evening, a grilled monkfish with bacon special ($26) is sided with grilled radicchio and mashed potatoes. The fish is lovely (and better without the bacon).

The Crab Louis salad ($22), served in early summer, is a mound of sweet lump crabmeat served over bright greens and sided with avocado, green beans, and boiled egg. In late summer, we loved the roasted root vegetables and the scallion mashed potatoes that sided the wintery-good short rib dish ($29).

“I’ve lived the high-end restaurant life,” says Ambrose. “This place is just about the food.”