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Mar 31, 2007 06:02 PM

BLT Steak -- B Forewarned

I am not a beef eater but my GF is and occasionaly she hankers a steak. One of the few restaurants in Washington at which we have never eaten was BLT Steak. Washingtonian rated it as #53 (of 100) in the metro area and I repesct Laurent Tourondel as a chef so we thought we would try it tonight. It has been a long time since we were so disappointed.

The ambiance is that of a sports bar. The bar (which features large screen TVs and a noisy crowd) is separated from the dining area only by the four foot high banquette on which many diners sit. This is not a place for a quiet conversation.

This is the 7th of Laurent Tourondel's mini-chain of restaurants (in New York, Washington, and Puerto Rico). I doubt if he has been to BLT Steak inWashington since it opened, if then. I cannot believe that a chef of his caliber would have allowed our meal to be served or would have eaten it if it was served to him.

The meal begins with a small container of warm chicken liver pate and toasted bread. This is one of the highlights of the meal. It was very good.

Feeling veggie-deprived, my GF and I both ordered a "chopped vegetable salad." The salad was 90% chopped iceberg lettuce, with a few hearts of palm, chopped olives, and cherry tomatoes thrown in. Hardly what either of us expected from the description. They were huge. If you ignore my advice and go to BLT Steak, order one, and share. Neither of us finished even half. This theme of quantity over quality continued. We were given two enormous "signature" popovers. They were too large and by the time you split one, the other was cold.

For an entree, she ordered filet (medium rare). She is petit but it was amusing watching her try to saw her way through the filet with a steak knife. It was cooked medium rare but it was also only medium warm and unexplainably tough. She also ordered a baked potato. It was the largest potato I have ever seen. It would have fed three people easily, if they all like luke-warm potatoes.

I ordered swordfish, hashbrowns, and roasted trumpet mushrooms. The swordfish was luke warm and dripping in lemon juice. I hate lemon juice on seafood. The description did not mention this, the server did not mention this, and I could barely eat it. The hashbrowns were awful. They were put in a small cast iron skillet and, apparently, stuck under the salamander (broiler). The top (crust) was overdone and the inside was raw potatoes. It was also large enough to serve 3-4 easily. The roasted trumpet mushrooms were good but obviously rpoasted in advance and re-heated when ordered. Sauteeing to order would have been a better choice.

During this meal, not one person (including the server) ever asked how it was or if we enjoyed it.

Despite our experience, we forged ahead and ordered dessert. It was described as "blueberry lemon merginue pie." In fact it was a small lemon tart with blueberries on top and a few minature marshmellows that were browned with a torch. And a quenelle of very tart lemon sorbet. It was pretty good.

With the dessert, the server gave us two tiny, very dry, chocolate brownies "compliments of the chef" and the bill ["no hurry"]. She then returned to pick up the check mid-dessert before I had taken out a credit card. I haven't felt so rushed since I last ate at Denny's [whose hash browns, by the way, are far superior to BLT].

Two things are certain: (1) we will never eat at BLT Steak again and (2) someone will post that they ate there and it was the best meal they ever ate. If you go there, I hope your experience will be better. For a $200 meal [before tip], there are very many restaurants in the area that offer better ambiance, better service, and far better food at a comparable price.

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  1. This is one of those experiences that makes one appreciate Morton's or the Prime Rib. You know exactly what to expect and it is almost certain things will meet expectations. Not very exciting, but not disappointing either.

    1. I ate there last night - I liked it. I loved the atmosphere, very young and clean and stylish. I hate the atmosphere at the Palm, so for those of you that like the Palm you probably wouldn't like BLT. We had decent service, but I'll agree with you that no one ever came back to check on us after we got our food and one person in our party had to chase down the waitress so that he could return his steak to have it cooked more.

      I thought the popovers were really nice, and the butter was soft. I didn't know what the stuff was that came with the toasted bread but it had lots of oil on top and it looked awful so I didn't try it.

      My margarita was mostly lime juice, I didn't detect much tequila in it and the glass it came in was extremely small. I switched to wine after that.

      My friend ordered the swordfish, and we were pleased to see that it was a normal human being sized portion. It wasn't dripping in anything either and she said it was excellent.

      The guys ordered a huge steak to share and they liked it. I don't eat beef so I can't say. I had the wedge salad, which was actually three little wedges of iceberg covered with blue cheese and nice big pieces of bacon. The presentation of it was lovely, so much better than getting a giant half a head of iceberg on a plate. I also had the mushroom risotto which was good, but maybe a tad salty. The grilled asparagus was really good - and the asparagus was cut into nice sized pieces.

      About 6 people came over to serve our food to us, and like I said no one ever came back. But I don't like being bothered anyway.

      All in all I really liked it and would choose it over the Palm anyday. Maybe its just that I'm sick of Gigi salads.

      1. You should have read my post from 3/12 on the "BLT Steak" thread. I would link it but I can't figure out how to. That was probably the worst dining experience I've had in DC in years. Either they are remarkably inconsistent, or there is something else behind the few raves I've read.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Pappy

          Pappy's excellent post (link below) is near the bottom.



          1. re: Pappy

            Thanks to both Pappy and Dakota Guy for entertaining, insightful posts that were a pleasure to read.

          2. As a final note: After our unpleasant experience at BLT STeak, I wrote a very polite email to the manager explaining why I was dissatisfied with the service and the food. I never received a reply, not even an acknowledgement. That seems to rather sum up their attitude toward clients.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Dakota Guy

              Welcome to the state of the restaurant attempting to be higher end in DC right now. I've had the same experience with more than one restaurant. One note though: you should print out the e-mail and send it via regular mail. If there's something I've figured out about writing letters about terrible experiences it's that restaurants are more responsive via regular mail than e-mail for some reason.

              1. re: Dakota Guy

                But Washingtonian rated it #53 out of 100. If that doesn't say "mediocre" I don't know what does. For once, I have to agree with Washingtonian.

              2. The original comment has been removed