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lambretta76

BLT Fish

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3 stars?  From what I've read here, it doesn't seem to be of that caliber.

Note that most of the reports on this thread consider the casual first floor. Bruni:

The first floor, a boisterous fish shack, has a no-reservations policy,  paper placemats with illustrated instructions on how to eat lobster and a less expensive, though not cheap, menu of chowders, fried clams and the like. It's good for what it is, but it's an entirely separate experience, and it's not the focus of Mr. Tourondel's best efforts or my attention.

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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Panned by Adam Platt.

But my salmon steak looked as though it had been thrown on the grill straight from Citarella, and the scallops were fresh, if a little sad, sitting more or less alone in their big white bowl.
The John Dory I sampled tasted mildly vulcanized, even semi-frozen, and cost a grand total of $87. The puppy-size lobster was showered in an ingenious mix of panko bread crumbs and black olives but cost as much as a low-end iPod. Ditto the tasty, salt-baked New Zealand snapper, which cashed in at around $90, and the very good Cantonese-style red snapper, which is about four times what you can expect to pay for the same dish down in Chinatown.

Platt mainly criticized the restaurant's concept, but the review comes way too early. Perhaps this was a reaction to the Times review's coming out a week before.


JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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Two colleagues and I had dinner at BLT Fish the other night: an enjoyable experience, to be sure, but the restaurant is a bit over-hyped. Our feeling was that Bruni had perhaps awarded one star too many. Mind you, a two-star restaurant is still very good. But this didn't feel like it deserved three.

Our server got things off on the wrong foot. We said, "Can we order some appetizers?" He said, "The kitchen prefers to receive your entire order at once." This is no doubt true, but it was an awfully clumsy way of telling us that the restaurant values its own convenience over that of its guests. Perhaps he should have just said, "Sorry guys, but we have tables to turn here."

BLT Fish wheels out impressive looking whole fish. Red Snapper "Cantonese" Style was a gorgeous presentation, filleted tableside, but both the fish and the cantonese vegetables seemed a bit bland in the end. The appetizers, spicy Tuna Tartare and Softshell Crab Tempura, were more successful.

There were two different amuses--both imaginative turns on "bread & butter." But in one case there was too little bread and too much spread; in the other case, it was the opposite. No one came around to offer more bread.

Vegetables are separately priced side orders, steakhouse style. Sauteed spinach was fine. Our server talked us into ordering Salt Crusted Sunchokes, which were mushy and not at all interesting.

The sommelier helped us choose too excellent wines, both of which were a hit.

All told, an uneven performance. I would certainly return, but the restaurant needs some fine tuning.

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I was surprised to find this morning that mine was the last post on the BLT Fish thread—eight months ago! I returned to BLT Fish last night with one of the two colleagues who joined me there last May.

Andrea Strong reported yesterday that Laurent Tourondel's next venture is a branch of BLT Steak in Washington, D.C. Based on last night's performance, Mr. Tourondel needs to spend more time minding the store back home. Two years into the experiment, the BLT schtick is starting to wear awfully thin.

I believe BLT restaurants aspire to serve three-star food, and there is at least a colorable argument that they do so. Why, then, are they so determined to dumb down the ambiance? Naturally, the noise level is almost deafening. The menu is printed on loose sheets of paper, plus a separate loose sheet itemizing the raw bar, plus a separate loose sheet with "highlights" of the wine list, plus the wine list itself in a leather-bound book.

All of those loose sheets are obviously printed cheaply, and not meant to last. So you'd at least like to think that they are up-to-date, but alas, they are not. The waiter recites a long list of specials. It is black truffle season, and several of the specials include that ingredient, but it's more extra information than I can keep in my head, so I order off the printed menu. (I also presume, given the BLT franchise's propensity for upselling, that those truffle specials are more expensive than the rest of the menu, but our server doesn't mention prices.)

To start, we ordered a pound of Alaskan king crab legs to share. For the entrée, I ordered the Alaskan black cod with honey glazing, while my colleague ordered a Chatham cod special that the server had mentioned. We also ordered two side dishes (mashed potatoes and brussels sprouts).

A long wait ensued. My colleague saw a tray of crab legs on the kitchen counter. He thought, "Surely those must be ours." Ten or fifteen minutes went by, but those crab legs remained on the counter, unclaimed. Finally, we asked our server what was going on. A team of BLT staff now descended on us with the crab legs, our entrées, and the side dishes—all at once.

But it gets worse than that. Instead of an order of the Alaskan black cod and the Chatham cod, the kitchen had prepared two orders of the Alaskan black cod. My colleague pointed out the slip. After a conference, the staff announced that they are all out of the Chatham cod—a daily special, I remind you—but would he like the halibut? Well, what could he say? I ate my Alaskan black cod, and he snacked on the crab legs, while they prepared the halibut. Later on, he ate the halibut while I watched.

You'd think they couldn't mess up anything more, but they managed it. The server forgot to offer us a bread service. The crab legs came without the usual miniature forks for prizing the meat out of the shell. The side dishes arrived without serving spoons. The amuses-bouches came with disposable wooden forks—they can't run the dishwasher?

Earlier on, they had taken my coat, and promised to return with a claim ticket. The claim ticket never arrived. When I left, we had to turn on the bright lights in the check room and rummage around for my coat. Luckily, the place wasn't packed. And luckily, I had a distinctive scarf that set my gray wool coat apart from the many others like it.

To their credit, the staff was aware of the more egregious of their sins, and tried to make amends. We were served dessert wines for free, and my colleague's entrée was taken off the bill. But of other sins the restaurant is apparently out-of-touch: the cheap outdated paper menus, missing/wrong utensils, and so forth.

For all that, the food was great. I would happily eat the honey-glazed Alaskan black cod every day. The side dishes were wonderful, as they always are at BLT restaurants. Dessert (bread pudding) was excellent. The sommelier was knowledgeable, and recommended a terrific pinot noir.

But service and ambiance count, and the lapses here were too many to forgive. Laurent Tourondel's cuisine deserves a far better setting.


Edited by oakapple (log)

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any other recent experiences in the upstairs portion of BLT Fish?

I noticed that on his blog oakapple had good things to say about his most recent visit. anyone else? I'm planning on dining there in a couple weeks.

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Had a pretty good meal here the other night (upstairs).

a fluke tartare special was very good.

the "spicy" tuna tartare was boring (though my companion liked it)...and the "spicy" component was nonexistent (literally).

New Zealand pink snapper in a salt-crust was exceptional. just great. though not cheap at $35 a pound....(a 2 pound fish is just enough for two people but by no means a massive amount of food).

highly recommend this preparation. the sauces on the side are all good.

stuffed artichokes were fine.

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Went there last weekend upstairs.

For starters we had the spicy tuna, the octopus and the rock shrimp risotto. We also found the spicy tuna to be a little bit weak, but the octopus and the risotto were both very good.

For the main courses we passed on the fish by the pound, as it seemed highway robbery. We went with the scallops, cod with honey, and the tuna with bbq sauce. The Cod was the best dish here, well prepared, nice and flaky. The tuna and the scallops were ok.

We also orderered two sides: spinach and hen of the woods mushrooms. We sent both back, as they were poorly seasoned.

For dessert we went with the cheesecake brulee, which was ok, but sounded better than it was.

Overall we thought the meal was pretty good. Would consider going back.


Arley Sasson

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