Thursday, July 26, 2007

BLT Prime - "The pop overs are really good..."

There can be perhaps no more damning praise for BLT Prime than was paid by a Chef friend of mine recently when he dined there, his verdict? "The pop overs are really good." The concept of BLT Prime is admirable, marry the traditional American steakhouse with the culinary flair of French cuisine. Unfortunately intent only gets you so far. The fundamental problem at BLT Prime is that intent is let down by the execution. The steaks, Wagyu aside, are quite bland, flavorless and relatively expensive. The sides, despite some inventive creations, were almost uniformly disappointing. It is too bad because there is a lot to like at BLT Prime, the room has a clean modern design that is comforting to dine in, the service is very attentive and professional and the wine list is impressively comprehensive.

The blue cheese wedge was lackluster, with precious little blue cheese or bacon for the price. But oh those pop overs....

.....Simply marvelous

The Caesar was more successful than the blue cheese wedge, if a tad over dressed.

Perhaps the best appetizer on offer at BLT Prime, pop overs aside, is the wonderful salty grilled bacon. Shockingly I found it superior to Peter Luger's vaunted bacon.

Lord of the rings? Unfortunately not, despite the phallic presentation the rings were limp and greasy. A problem that plagued the leek hash browns and bizarre blue cheese tater tots as well. The potentially wonderful English peas with chanterelle and shaved truffles suffered from woefully undercooked peas.

The BLT Prime NY strip was equal to those of a traditional steakhouse in terms of portion size but lacked the juice and flavor of the latter. It was the best cooked of all the steaks I sampled at BLT Prime but it was still not satisfyingly charred, the other steaks fared worse. For a grill that operates at a claimed 1700 degrees one would think that searing the meat would be a simple matter.

The rib eye was perhaps the most disappointing dish at BLT Prime. Compared to the wonderful examples of the cut found at Smith and Wollensky and Wolfgang's the rib eye here lacks the bold yet complex flavors steak lovers expect. The exterior, despite showing areas of char was unevenly cooked and came adorned with the superfluous herb butter. The cut was also quite slender for the price compared to the aforementioned competition.

The bone in dry aged American Wagyu was excellent in terms of flavor and texture but despite being ordered medium rare it was delivered to the table in a decidedly rare state. Further it lacked a good char, coming in at a darkish brown with only faint grill marks. Never the less a very good piece of beef but at almost $100 for 10oz it should be.

The Japanese Wagyu was superb combining a delectably buttery texture and rich flavor that literally burst in ones mouth. Beautifully marbled the beef was beyond reproach and competitive with the Wagyu that I sampled at Kobe Club and Craftsteak, especially considering that it comes in slightly cheaper, costing "only" $26 an ounce.

I feel like a broken record but I simply cannot understand the over adornment of beef in the nouveau steakhouses, especially in the case of Wagyu. Frankly if you have a high quality piece of beef, either Wagyu or dry aged prime it should speak for itself, not be sullied by extraneous flavors. BLT Prime is the worst offender to date, the Wagyu here comes with marrow, roasted shallots, roasted garlic, Kosher salt, herb butter and an herb sprig. It also comes sliced which I am not in favour of, preferring a whole piece.

If I had to recommend a steak at BLT Prime it would be the Wagyu, either American or Japanese, but I would also recommend that you request it naked of the all adornments. The domestic prime beef here is not on par with what you can get elsewhere.

The dry aging room is centrally located in the restaurant. While the beef exhibits the tenderness one expects of the dry aging process it lacks the complex flavors, the earthy, musky undertones of the finest beef found in the city's top steakhouses. One steak that I was not able to sample because it was sold out was a dry aged, Japanese Wagyu rib eye that clocks in at $45 an ounce. This alone will be enough to get me back to the restaurant, but were it not for that cut I am not sure I would rush back to BLT Prime. The restaurant has a lot going for it in terms of decor, service and an inventive menu. Unfortunately the domestic steak is not on par with the competition and although the Wagyu is the starters and sides were disappointingly executed.

BLT Prime
111 E. 22nd St.

1 comment:

Jon said...

Have you tried BLT Steak? In comparing the menu's, they look nearly identical. The one thing that stuck out was the wagyu ribeye - for the same price (and apparently same steak) BLT Steak serves a 2oz larger portion than BLT Prime.