BLT Steak first appeared on my radar when one of our colleagues, Joseph, mentioned it, having been to the one in Hong Kong in November. He said the food was excellent and Joe knows good food, so I began looking into this place and discovered a gem, hidden in plain sight.
BLT, is the acronym not for Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato, so don’t expect an inexpensive sandwich, but it does stand for Bistro Laurent Tourandel, the chef proprietaire who created this growing empire.
I love steak – always have, and steakhouses have always been one of my favorite genre in the world of great dining. But no matter where I go, I’ve found that imagination and creativity were sorely lacking in the majority of them. It’s usually some type of potato, spinach, aged steaks and half way decent desserts with each side dish quite minimal and terribly overpriced. Most steakhouses are also stuffy, pompous places where I rarely feel comfortable. BLT Steak was an exception to the rule.
Suddenly, the opportunity arose for me to dine at the flagship restaurant on East 57th Street off Park Avenue in Manhattan. Keep in mind that the bulk of America’s great steakhouses originated not in Texas or Chicago, but in New York. Thus it’s a surprise that in a city that’s home to such great steakhouses as Gallagher’s, Peter Luger’s, Ben Benson’s, Smith & Wollensky, The Palm, Sparks and so many others, the quality of this eatery stands out so uniquely. Based on feedback from our team around the world, we’re making this comparison against steakhouses throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia and South America.
It is as if a very smart group of people had discovered every single nuance that was wrong or outdated at great steakhouses and fixed them, making BLT Steak absolutely perfect, which is just what we found it to be.
We’re making this decision based on a number of factors:
- Freshness and quality – while others have comparable quality and freshness, the use of ingredients and techniques at BLT Steak create a unique dining experience;
- Style – BLT Steak has sleek, stylish restaurants but more important, the style of both food and drink are superb, with a very contemporary edge, yet clinging tightly to traditional steakhouse favorites;
- Creativity – We found that BLT Steak has engaged some of the most talented people to deliver a thoroughly enjoyable menu with creativity at its core;
- Flavor – many a steakhouse has wonderfully flavorful meats and sauces, though we found BLT Steak has established a standard for flavor in its food that is exceptional;
- Decor and Ambiance – part of the overall experience of a great steakhouse is the decor and ambiance of the restaurant itself and they’ve not failed on that side, providing elegant, sophisticated settings at all their properties for diners to enjoy, with a relaxing, comfortable setting lacking the stuffiness of others in the class;
- Service – their service standards are incredibly high, with great attentiveness to patrons without being obtrusive, pompous, pretentious or arrogant, with staff that treat guests warmly, allowing privacy and relaxation;
- Price – steakhouses are never bargain dining experiences, though BLT’s menu provides a wide range of superior quality food at relatively reasonable prices – we found prices fair compared to the high quality of food and drinks served;
- Locations – from New York to Hong Kong, they’ve opened in key markets and established themselves as a premiere quality chain without the feel of a chain restaurant at any one location, allowing each to accommodate local style, flavor and culture.
Overall, these criteria make BLT Steak, in our opinion, the very best and most perfectly run steakhouses.
We loved the creative manner in which dishes were presented, the fresh quality, the flavor combinations and overall experience. One wonderful example was the Crabcake, served with a Meyer lemon sauce and radish salad, it retained an exceptional quality, superior flavor and had a most exotic visual appeal. The tiny sliver of lemon on either side of the crabcake showed the gastronomic attention to fine detail and dedication to the craft in the kitchen. Grilled Tuscan Bread, served along side a rich aspic glazed foie gras mousse adds to the mystique, as do tiny slivers of Fonduta on Toast and an appetizing board of Italian salumeria. Their Blue Fin Tuna Tartare, another famous appetizer shown above, is outstanding for its visual appeal and unique combination of flavors and textures – it is accompanied by gaufrette fries.
One could say ‘steak is steak’ but this is really not true. Managing the quality, preparation and doneness of a steak is more than a science, it’s an art as well as a dedicated discipline. Without dedication, guests would soon find their ‘medium rare’ steak more ‘well done’ than as they wished. That’s happened to us on any number of occasions at many of the other ‘great’ steakhouses in New York, Dallas, San Antonio, Wichita, Washington, Los Angeles and other locations. It’s actually more common than you think. However, the culinary team at BLT Steak has this issue well under control and takes great care to ensure your dish is prepared perfectly and pride in doing it right.
The Prime Hangar Steak is sublime and the 28-Day Dry-Aged Prime Bone-In NY Strip at 20 ounces was the finest strip steak I had ever consumed in my lifetime and I’ve enjoyed many. The Bearnaise and Barbecue sauces were unimpeachable in character and depth of flavor. The Lobster Salad “Cobb” Style was absolutely a work of impeccable brilliance. The refreshing Chopped Vegetable Salad was just right to cleanse the palate but afforded a unique blend of unique flavors in an extraordinary dressing we can’t even describe with words – it just has to be tasted to know how great it is. For side dishes, we enjoyed incredibly delicious Truffled Mashed Potatoes, Creamed Spinach and amazingly prepared Glazed Carrots, cooked just enough, but not too much, nor too little.
When Joseph was in Hong Kong, he enjoyed an outstanding Lemon-Rosemary Chicken (above) that was, according to him, out of this world. He raved over their signature Popovers, but we admit that those served in New York were immensely better and bigger. We attribute that difference to a variable in the nature of flour available in the United States and that in China. Nonetheless, those in Hong Kong were delicious.
The Hong Kong location is amazing, right on the waterfont with a great view of the Harbour and the city’s famed skyline.
Those popovers (shown below) are one of the most enjoyable treats and far better than most breads served in restaurants and much better than any Yorkshire Pudding I’ve ever had in England (where they’re not called popovers). Crunchy on the outside, soft, moist and full of air on the inside, these light, delightful puddings are served as a bread course and really don’t need the butter with which they’re served. Just break one open and enjoy. Best part is, they’re not filling, leaving plenty of room to enjoy your meal without becoming bloated and stuffed.
We loved the fact that whether in Hong Kong or New York, the food, ambiance, and everything is designed and implemented to afford maximum comfort to the guest. The food is comfort food, though presented in stylish manner in some cases, in others, one feels like you’re at home. While many steakhouses have been bastions of male dining for a long time, BLT Steak has been smart enough to balance everything so that everyone feels comfortable. The menu, for example, includes dishes suitable to anyone’s dining preferences.
The nicest thing of all is that they also have the perfect pastry chef designing desserts for the entire chain. Julie Elkind, whom we named Best Pastry Chef, an indication of the incredible talent that goes into the creation of everything at BLT Steak.
BLT Steak is owned by Esquared Hospitality. Please visit their website and dine in the BLT Steak nearest you, or try one of their other superb brands. Their company motto is “Exceeding Expectations” and in truth, they do… quite abundantly. We’re sure you’ll love and cherish every moment and each morsel.