Shades of Blue

Blue Point beautifully balances enthusiasm and know-how

The cilantro grilled swordfish ($12.95) was thin like an abalone steak, and the flavor of the herb was soft. A garbanzo-bean salsa, with diced red peppers, scallions, and roasted potatoes, reminded me of that American summertime classic three-bean salad.

The ravioli ($9.95) was stuffed with crab meat and served with crab legs on the side. The cream sauce was redolent of rosemary and, we concluded after discussion and repeated tastings, sage.

At $3.95, desserts were as much of a bargain as everything else on the menu. Tiramisu (ugh!) was a sweet cloud of cream, like a piece of bland wedding cake. The fudgelike chocolate torte, on the other hand, was a serious piece of work -- a dark star of cocoa-bean intensity.

With youthful enthusiasm and professional know-how in ideal balance, Blue Point is exactly the sort of small, distinctive bistro that makes the dining scene in the city so special. It's far from the maddening downtown crowds -- but not too far.

Blue Point, at 2415 Clement in S.F., is open daily 5 to 10 p.m.; call 379-9726.

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