Four years after debuting in the heart of Carlsbad Village, Bluewater Grill Carlsbad has developed a reputation as the go-to destination for the freshest, chef-prepared sustainable seafood in San Diego – an impressive feat given the number of seafood restaurants in the area. And at the center of that growing public acclaim is San Diego native Albert Serrano, who handles executive chef duties not just for Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill in Coronado, but also for Bluewater Grill Carlsbad, a sister restaurant in the Carlsbad Village. As the culinary voice for Bluewater in San Diego, Chef Albert is perfecting the neighborhood-specific ingredient and menu differences that make each Bluewater restaurant truly unique to their community.
“While Coronado obviously attracts a lot of visitors, it is also a very close-knit community of local residents who are intensely proud and even a bit protective of their neighborhood,” said Serrano. “This same feeling applies to restaurants here: the seafood, ingredients and even the dishes on the menu need to be specifically local to gain local residents’ trust.”
Thanks to Bluewater’s direct relationships with local fishermen, the La Mesa, Calif., native is able to create unique lunch and dinner menus featuring up to 40 varieties of fresh sustainable seafood and shellfish annually. From Pan-Seared Sea Scallops and San Francisco Cioppino with locally harvested Black Mussels to Grilled Whole Fish that changes daily, he is adding his own local gourmet twist to offer diners a new experience every time.
But Chef Albert’s commitment to local ingredients goes deeper. Bluewater Grill is one of the few restaurants in San Diego to operate its own fishing vessel, the San Diego-docked Pilikia, to provide customers with the freshest, sustainably caught seafood. Fishing off the San Diego and Southern California coast, Pilikia Captain Sean Burke targets only mature fish without the use of nets or long lines, harpooning the freshest most humanely harvested local Pacific swordfish and other varieties.
Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill and Bluewater Grill Carlsbad are among the few seafood restaurants in San Diego County to apply a full-disclosure menu philosophy and publish a Fish Origins Chart showing the specific farmed or wild source of every item on the menu.
“That attention to hyper-freshness and sustainability can be seen in our lunch and dinner menus of simply prepared fresh fish, which change daily, and in our specialty gourmet preparations like our Chipotle Blackened Swordfish served with dirty rice, corn and avocado relish. You really can taste the difference.”
San Diego born, raised and trained, Chef Albert has been cooking in San Diego for 25 years. He was previously executive sous chef at Peohe’s in Coronado, part of the Chart House family, after serving as executive chef at a family-owned restaurant in La Jolla for seven years.
His suggestion for seafood fans? “Ask the chef what he or she recommends. While no one can resist a gourmet dish made with the freshest, sea-to-plate ingredients, my favorites are the Crab BLTA and Bluewater’s original Seafood Gumbo, when it’s in season. Add a pint of our High Spot draft bear, approved by San Diego’s Mission Brewing, and a table on one of our outdoor patios, and you have the perfect San Diego afternoon.”
Bluewater Boathouse Seafood Grill and Bluewater Grill Carlsbad offers regularly updated lunch and dinner menus, outdoor dining patios and special event spaces. A Happy Hour Menu of $4, $6 and $8 small plate and drink specials is featured from 3pm to 6pm Sunday through Thursday in Coronado. Both restaurants are pet-friendly.