January 9, 2011

Blue Door No Longer Gives You the Blues With Its Closing

On a cold Saturday evening our blog's staff set out to try locally owned and operated restaurant, The Blue Door. After a two year closure and shift in ownership, this restaurant I had heard legends of since my time as a freshman at Ausin College re-opened in October 2010. Located on Travis Street in historic downtown Sherman, The Blue Door is easy to overlook amongst banks, used furniture stores, tacky boutiques, and the usual humdrum scenery. The store front is aged and appears small, but we were surprised to find the interior of the restaurant to be deep, spacious, and surprisingly posh for Sherman.


The Blue Door features a tall, beautiful patterned ceiling from the original construction of the building, as well as its original tile flooring. The additional d├ęcor resembles a blend of shabby chic and rustic Italian styling. Installed by the previous owners are classic chandeliers and arch-like perpendicular columns draped with deep red fabric, creating a canopy bed-esque aura above the line of booths. This, paired with the low lighting (created by string bulbs and candles), classical music choices, and re-vamped fireplace, fashions the perfect atmosphere for a classy, intimate gathering with friends, family, or a date.

We were greeted immediately by the hostess, Sue, who we later discovered is also a partial owner of the eatery. Sue seated us promptly and introduced us to our server, Brittany, with whom we were already acquainted from school. As we waited for our bread (which is baked fresh daily in the store) we noticed Sue flitting about the store excitedly, chatting with patrons; it was difficult to tell with whom she was already acquainted and with whom she was just making friends. Our group also recognized a number of familiar faces enjoying dinner at the locale including friends' parents and Austin College faculty members.

It was certainly noticeable, however, that The Blue Door was at only about 25% capacity on a Saturday night; it was hardly bustling in this generally-lucrative time slot for restaurants. Upon receiving our fresh bread from Brittany, I inquired as to whether the business was always so slow at this time. Though she attempted to skirt the question politically (and went on to tell us about the three butters served with the bread: regular, garlic, and Italian seasoned; all of which were delicious), it seemed clear that it is always this way.

Even before we experienced our main course, it was clear to see that The Blue Door would be much more at home and popular in a swankier urban locale. Buried in the Texoma dining landscape of chains, buffets, and homestyle cooking, however, The Blue Door remains a hidden gem. With dishes ranging from Spicy Indian Catfish to Pork Roulade, the menu caters to those with more adventurous taste buds than such local favorite eateries as Tracks or Kathleen's Kitchen.

But, for awhile only dust fell onto the table tops at the Blue Door. Two years, no one got drunk off wine, ate a delicious meal and then went home to their upper middle class family. That is until Tony Angotta and Sue Burns bought the place from previous owners, Shanta and Das Menon. With that, the pair took the restaurants menu from eclectic menu to a new American dining experience. Instead of Indian cuisine Wednesdays, patrons can experience a prime rib. Long ago, the Blue Door was the place for Austin College students to obtain a steady job with a delightful family. The Menons only used the freshest ingredients and added flair to Sherman that was sadly lost in November 2008. The growing recession that the country was falling into and the desire to be with their family was the ultimate decision for the closing. However, the spark of this restaurant has not been lost since being bought by Sue and Tony. As one enters, the familiar pillars and table settings remind those of another time.

The real noticeable difference to the restaurant is of course the menu. As one customer asked the night I went, “you guys don’t have the horseradish crusted salmon anymore?” It was a delicious and popular item to go missing. Instead, customers are treated to the “Blue Door salmon” which is simply cooked with a maple glaze. There are two classic dishes that remained from the past being the pecan chicken and Indian spiced catfish. Overall, the menu had a delicious feel to it with such additions as halibut Florentine and Steak Johnathan. It’s a very rustic Italian and new American feel all mixed into one. The menu is still bringing customers in since October 27th when the restaurant re-opened. The official ribbon cutting ceremony will take place on January 18th. A good feature that is unique to the Blue Door is that everything they make is made there. Every single salad dressing and even the complimentary bread is made by owner Tony which is a delightful find in this community.

Despite all of these recent changes, the clientele hasn’t changed. The restaurant is a favorite among the middle and upper class families due to the pricing of the menu, which is between 15-30 dollars. This is atypical for a Sherman restaurant but definitely worth it in the end. As a native of Sherman, I recognized many families of prominence in the community and felt at home just like the old days. The restaurant is definitely still popular with the Austin College community where it employs students and treats the professors with the utmost care.

Though with our college student budgets, this newly-discovered spot would have to be a rare treat, we all thoroughly enjoyed our experience and intend to return. Particularly notable was the constant care of the staff, including Sue's invitation for us to explore and photograph the restaurant (given that we didn't disturb any diners). She even offered to take my food back to the kitchen after I spent an excessive amount of time attempting to catch a decent photo of my noodles. As we left for the night, we came across a fellow student entering the restaurant to apply for the job, symbolizing the growing and strengthening of the bond between Austin College and The Blue Door.
Each of our takes on our respective meals.

3 comments:

  1. I like how you gave your own opinions on the foods tried. I think I just might have to go there!

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  2. damn this makes me want to eat there

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  3. great pictures and writing guys, Keep it up!

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