BLT Steak

221 Main Street (ground floor of the Ritz Carlton Hotel)
White Plains, New York

5 Second Summary:
Price Range- Dinner entrees $26-92 served a la carte, vegetable and potato side dishes range from $8-9 (at time of posting)
Ambiance- BLT Steak bills itself as a “Modern American Steakhouse” that “integrates traditional elements of a cozy French Bistro with those of a stylish, urbane boite.” [Writer’s note: I do “get” the boite-lounge-nightclub feel with some of the bistro coziness, but BLT Steak is definitely more formal and upscale than your corner bistro.]
Cuisine- Steak
Hits- Perfectly executed meats
Misses- Pricey entrees and cocktails may make it a “special occasion” or “expense-account” type of place
Like many other couples, Rich and I celebrated Valentine’s Day this past Saturday night.  We made reservations at BLT Steak and were subsequently bombarded with comments about its mediocrity.  Refusing to believe that grand master Joel Robuchon, Food and Wine magazine, and The New York Times’ William Grimes could be wrong about Chef Laurent Tourondel, we went anyway.
Our meal began with house cocktails.  Rich had a lychee and ginger capirinha made with cachaca and garnished with a generous slice of ginger and a whole lychee.  I had a meyer lemon and mint martini with Absolut Citron (delicious) followed by a less-satisfying “Perfect Purple Pear,” Absolut Pear with creme de cassis.  Although the latter was not as sweet as I feared, the blackcurrant liquor was still rather sweet.  I did enjoy it “pear-ed” with my steak but would probably have been better off opting for a nice rioja.  After cocktails, we were served two crusty slices of bread and a jar of warm, rich, spreadable chicken liver.
Then came the treat that sold me on Laurent Tourondel: light, airy, buttery, egg-y gruyere popovers.  The crust was flaky and just utterly divine.  The doughy middle had lovely air pockets and a rich, cheesy taste and thick texture.  I don’t even LOVE gruyere, but I finished every crumb of this popover.  (Like cooking eggs perfectly, I find the perfect popover elusive and impressive.)  To borrow a phrase from Beantown food blogger Lingbo Li, it was undoubtedly a serving of “food porn.”
Rich ordered a crab cake appetizer with meyer lemon (a culinary motif for the evening) and a radish salad.
We both ordered filet mignon: mine medium rare with a red wine sauce (see photo below), Rich’s blue (one step rarer than rare, with a cold, deep red center) with bearnaise sauce.  Garnished with a round pat of herbed butter and thyme twigs, the steak was perfectly cooked and showed technical proficiency in both its cut and execution… but it was still filet mignon.  I suppose it was my fault for opting for a leaner cut (as I prepare for wedding dress season in July)— a healthier, and perhaps more boring, choice.  The filet was lovely, but filet isn’t the most flavorful of meats.  I should have opted for hanger steak, a cut I love for its flavor but rarely order because it is tough (no pun intended) to prepare well.  I get the feeling that BLT’s all-star execution would have done a bang-up job with the hanger steak and left me with a tastier plate.  Or perhaps Rich and I should have shared the porterhouse for two, but Monday-morning quarterbacking is what it is…
My side dish was roasted tomatoes, which I chose to be somewhat healthy.  Ha ha ha. What came out of the kitchen was this delectable oil-and-breadcrumb-topped beauty that sang of fresh garlic and parsley.  I could have eaten a table full of these roasted tomatoes.  Then again, I could have kept away and and all vampires in the county.
Rich’s side dishes (not pictured— I wasn’t quick enough with the camera) were stuffed mushroom caps and parmesan gnocchi.  The former were deliciously earthy and woodsy.  The latter were gooey, cheesy, and attracted attention for several tables beyond us.  Rich’s fascination with dairy continued with his beloved cheesecake: this time a New York cheese with citrus soup and blood orange sorbet.
My dessert was a charmingly light pudding (a formed pudding in the British style, not the liquidy, Jell-O, American variety) on the Valentine’s Day specials menu.  Warm and soft, it was the perfect mouthful of textured grain with bits of sweet date (and by “sweet date,” I’m referring to the fruit, not Rich).  There was a light toffee sauce (irresistible), caramelized bananas (Heaven), and oven-kissed, citrus-y kumquat slivers joined by vanilla ice cream atop a bed of almond crunch.  I’m a complete sucker for a good pudding, and this was no exception.
We were also treated to a pair of chocolate puddings topped with powdered sugar.
Although we walked in with low expectations, Rich and I were both exceptionally pleased with the meal.  The sweet and savory treats presented between and after courses were what one expects from a top-notch restaurant, and each course showcased the technical precision one would expect from the kitchen of a prominent, award-winning, and classically-trained French restaurateur.  Our bar tab did raise the bill significantly, but it would have been an expensive meal even if we spent the evening tee-totaling.  The extremely knowledgeable, gracious, and helpful servers and sommelier were top-notch, and the meal itself was praiseworthy.  I can’t pinpoint precisely why, but we did leave feeling that it somehow wasn’t worth the hefty price tag.  As my readers know, I have no qualms whatsoever about paying for a great meal (for perspective, I paid similarly to eat at Chicago’s Alinea and left that experience blown away).  I’m sure the Ritz-Carlton real estate and the celebrity chef status justify the cost, but the one criticism that rang true was that this meal was, indeed, overpriced.
Since neither Rich nor I have careers that include expense accounts, we won’t likely be back on BLT Steak’s power scene anytime soon.  Given the menu innovations and convenient Westchester location, we would go back for another special date… only next time we might be more inclined to drink the house wines.  🙂

2 Responses to “BLT Steak”

  1. Thomas J.Brigantino Sr. Says:

    What was the total tab for your dinner? Thank you, Thomas.

    • Thanks very much for your question, Thomas.
      With tax and tip, the bill came to $300 (or $150 per person). That amount included an $85 bar bill (3 cocktails @ $15 each + a half bottle of wine). The food we ordered included one appetizer, two steaks with sides, and two desserts.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: