BLT Fish (downstairs) review
I just accepted a new job offer last night, so to celebrate we went to BLT Fish. The offical celebration is in a month when we head back to Blue Hill at Stone Barns for the peak of corn season.
The downstairs "clam shack" is a cross between Babbo (music choices and volume) and the front room of The Mermaid Inn (food/ambiance) but much more jam-packed (read: tight).
Danna and I walked in and were told by the well-dressed, well-coifed and glassed host that it would be a 30 minute wait. Waiting patiently (though starving), we breached the 40 minute mark and asked the whereabouts of our table. The host apologized and said that it'd be another 15 minutes. Argh. Then, less than a minute later, he said that a table was ready for us. We were both thankful - because we were about to walk out, and I really wanted to give this place a shot.
We get a seat in the back and quickly place an order for the Whale's Tail Pale Ale - the only remaining beer available on tap (of a possible three).
Oysters were definitely on the agenda this evening, so I went ahead and tried a half dozen, four of which were new to me. The one blue point I had (this was not a new oyster for me), though fresh and good, was the least pleasant-tasting of the bunch. Actually, I didn't like it at all compared to Beausoleils and Hama Mana (sp?) and others. All of the others were really, really good and fresh tasting. VERY briny.
Danna ordered a cup of the New England Clam Chowder ($5) - with bacon, we were made aware - and though fragrant with the smell of bacon and relatively tasty - it was a bit thin. Some may say the absence of large amounts of cream is a good, healthy thing - I say otherwise. The flavor was there, the ingredients were all good, but it was very thin on the lips.
For entrees, Danna was all about lobster ($MP - about $36 I think). She had her mind on it before we got to the restaurant, and nothing would change it. Good thing too. The 1 1/2 pounder was sweet and succulent. The tail was a bit firmer (overcooked) but that might have been a result of slower eating (cracking the claws and such takes time) as the fish continuing to cook a bit. The claw and particularly the knuckle sections were excellent. Juicy, salty, sweet in all of the right amounts. It was served with a ramekin of lemon hollandaise sauce (per Danna's request - but boring/near flavorless) but ended up on my plate, rice pilaf (average at best) and a forgettable shredded salad.
I ordered the yellowfin tuna (rare) with the spicy salsa ($24). The spicy salsa neither arrived on my plate nor tasted the slightest bit spicy when it finally did arrive. The tuna, however, was perfectly seasoned, grilled perfectly on the top and bottom and simply delicious. A nice portion size as well. I also opted for the rice which again, was less than great.
We decided to order dessert - this was a celebration after all. I got the key lime pie ($7), Danna went for the berry bread pudding ($7). The bread pudding was served cooled and was tasty, but we prefer our bread pudding warm and gooey. The key lime pie was very good, but not at the level you get in Bonita Bay, Florida, for example.
Total cost with tax came to about $112. Our waitress was great -- her persona fitting for this style restaurant, but not the upstairs one. She knew her stuff and was frank with her answers to our questions ("get the bread pudding, you can get apple pie anywhere"). I told Danna that she will, by night's end, be either really great or really bad. My odds were in her favor and she proved me right.
Would I go back to BLT Fish's downstairs room - in a word, no. Maybe for some oysters at the bar, but that would be it. I imagine the upstairs is amazing. The elevator alone was cool enough to warrant a trip back. I love seeing the inner workings of things like that. Would I recommend this place to a friend - sure, its worth going once. I think the prices - specifically for the main dishes - are too high. But I think there are better places for the price.
BLT Fish is right in my neighborhood and so when it opened I dined there(downstairs) a number of times during the first few months and I've given them the benefit of the doubt and been back a few more times. I had been to BLT Steak and liked it and so I assumed Laurent Tourondel would certainly be able to run this relatively casual operation. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The help seems to turn over weekly and the service has been very inept every time I visited. The food is mediocre, at best, (lobster roll has about 3/4" of tasteless lobster) and the prices are ridiculous. I haven't been there lately (say within the last 2-3 months) but I seriously doubt that it is any different than when I last ate there. I have yet to try upstairs so I cannot comment on it.