BLT Market birthday dinner - review
- Jel212 Feb 13, 2008 11:46 AM
I was so excited to discover that this was the spot for my surprise birthday dinner - had been wanting to try for a while, so much so that I walked to it one time at lunch to look at the menu and peer in.
My SO and I got there a few min early for an 8:30 reservation. The service was not what I expected, no one asked for our names, and we had to ask a passing waiter who would take our coats. There's not a particularly good waiting entrance area. But, once we got settled, went for a drink at the bar - a nice dark hallway off the bright dining room, linking to the hotel's lounge. 8:30 comes and goes w/o word from the hostess. SO goes to check, and we're told it will still be a little while. We get a second drink and are seated by about 9pm. Wasn't too bad, except surprising for a Tuesday night. Service throughout the meal was a little slow, but the servers were very nice.
Meal started with a delightful amuse bouche from the chef - homemade pigs in the blanket, with saurkraut and mustard, in a flaky shell. It was incredibly delicious - melted in your mouth with a perfect balance of richness and bite. We both agreed that a meal could be made from that alone.
Next was the complimentary garlic bread - a heavily buttered and herbed crispy loaf that we agreed we "had" to finish. It was crispy, garlicy, and delicious. It could have been a tiny bit less buttered, but maybe that's the glory of it? Not that I could stop eating it or anything!
We shared the raw yellowfin appetizer - a beautiful plate of pink, green, and orange that had a wonderful mixture of citrus, creamy miso paste, and a kick from tiny fried onions. A lovely light dish that tasted "interesting" at first, but left me wanting more (and the portions were not big, but big enough overall).
I got the duck, which was gorgeously seared, with a thick, glazed skin. It was sitting on a bed of collard greens and little bacon cubes, and under a gloriously seared piece of fois gras. It was rich and delightful, as expected in a duck breast. No big surprises, but downright tasty and wonderfully rich without being overpowering. The fois gras was incredible. I could have made a meal of it, no problem - it was stunning, melted in one's mouth with a mindblowingly-rich flavor. The chop was lovely - managed to be light and juicy - and the bites with the breadcrumbs were the best.
We got a side of the mashed potatoes (a bit small for $10!) which were lovely, smooth, and lightly garlicy.
For dessert we shared the special - dark chocolate torte with a hazlenut gnosh. The torte missed a little bit b/c it had a wafer layer in it, which gave it an uncomfortably chewy quality. The gnosh, however, was all I needed. A massive punch of chocolate, it was delightfully grainy with what I'm guessing was undissolved sugar. Too sweet for the SO, I found it insanely good. Matched my delight with the fois gras.
We opted out of a bottle of wine, and I went for a glass - the pino grigio, which turned out to be just heavy/sweet enough to match well with both the tuna and the duck. I was very happy with it.
Overall, definitely what I hoped for and expected in a seasonal restaurant - fantastic fresh ingredients w/o being at all nouveau. The atmosphere was bright and felt farmy in an upscale way, which was very nice. A wonderful birthday pick - I give it an A.
We also had a great meal again last weekend.
See our updated notes:
"The corner of Central Park South (59th Street) and Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas) that has been the home of many top International dining places is now home to a top Regional American run by top French owner/chef, Laurent Tourondel, his kitchen staff and restaurant management team. While we have not been fans of other BLT restaurants around Manhattan, we love BLT Market.
BLT Market is the latest and perhaps the best of the Manhattan artisanal and the locally grown farm produce restaurants featuring the best of the Hudson River Valley and Long Island agricultural purveyors. In fact we were seated next to a large table hosted by BLT Market’s meat purveyor who enjoyed celebrity status with the restaurant management and the executive chef. Yes, this is truly a restaurant that benefits from and takes advantage of the best of local food products, including mounting photos of the purveyors on the walls of the restaurant.
The restaurant’s style is definitely the best of the turn of the century; that is 1900. Plenty of natural wood, zinc buckets, canned vegetables, bottles of honey, fresh cut flowers and wired wound incandescent lamps. The house tap water is served in real milk bottles.
There are three dining areas, the prime room facing Central Park, the entrance room which has a bit of coffee shop feel and a more quiet room off to the right of the entrance. And being directly across the street from the Central Park horse carriages taxi stand, there can occasionally be a faint smell of the horses throughout the rooms.
We had excellent service throughout our dining. The front desk honored our reservation and reservation request for a special table. Our waiter, Sergio, was excellent. Wine service was very professional.
We received wonderful updated versions of pigs in a blanket as our chef’s tasting along with a wonderful fresh, hot garlic and pesto infused baguette. The menu is seasonal featuring produce and other ingredients available at the time. During a recent winter dining, salads were accompanied with winter seasonal produce and winter seafood. Both were outstanding. Our main courses of Amish chicken and Berkshire pork chop were very good, both a reflection of a slow cooking approach. And while slow cooking has advocates, it our personal opinion that we prefer our pork chops and chickens roasted in a hot oven which produces crisper and more seared results.
We are not dessert fans so we passed, but the desserts at adjoining tables looked old fashion and wonderful.
The wine list was comprehensive with an excellent collection of New York, American and European wines. The prices were on the high side, when compared to other comparable restaurants. We selected the excellent Wolffer Estate Chardonnay, which was well balance with rich fruits and citrus, which complemented our seasonal dishes."