Thursday, February 22, 2007

Chophouse Review: BLT Steak

Hopefully this answers the question: What the hell does sirloinsports mean? Inspired by a couple of Dirty Jerz denizens, we've embarked on a Chophouse Tour of sorts over the past couple of years. There's no set schedule. Just a constant itch to go out and chomp at the classiest joints around. And whenever we dine, there's always an accompanying review.

This past week my buddy Mayor and I satisfied a long-overdue chop craving. After a quick drink and cigar at Club Macanudo (frequented frequently by Michael Jordan, Governor Arnold, and other celebrities), we set out to BLT Steak to saw away.

Using the Bruce System of Chophouse Rankings, here's what transpired...

Location: BLT sits on 57th between Park and Lex in Manhattan. Smack in midtown, on a busy two-way street, pretty easy to get to. A quick stroll down the road to The Plaza. SCORE: 9 (out of 10)

Ambiance: The blue awning out in front is nice, and will look better once the scaffolding is cleared from the street. The bar greets you on the left as you walk in, and there's a narrow 20-foot walk to the host through boozers and those waiting for a table. The lighting is a bit brighter than most places, and most of the tables are crammed close. There's enough elbow room, but it's quite easy to eavesdrop on conversations next to you (more on this later). Big plus: Mayor had a pillow to support his back sitting on the bench side of the table. Big BIG minus: I shit you not, midway through our chops, the theme from Ghostbusters started playing. Seriously. I don't even know how to react. Mayor and I agreed to pretend that no such thing ever happened. Overall, definitely a bit on the trendy side, but not in an overly annoying way. SCORE: 7

Bar: Just came from Macanudo, and it was already 8:30, so there was no reason for another drink...until we were told they needed just a couple minutes to set up the table. So why not, right? Interesting that they didn't have Bud Light, even though the Miller was an able replacement. The bar didn't have any feature that made it stand out, and they were strapped a bit for space. Solid bartenders who didn't make us stand there waiting with a $20 bill sticking out of our mitts, which is always uncomfortable (especially when there's a mirror in front of you, and so you get so sick of waiting that you end up staring at yourself and realize how horrifying you look in the weird fluorescent lights). Big points for the strategically placed plasma in the upper right corner showing the Rangers-Devils game (Rangers lost...strong). If Marty Brodeur is involved somehow, it's a classy operation. SCORE: 7

Bread, Appetizer, Salad: Wow. I mean, WOW. Hands down, no question, BLT has the greatest bread I've ever had. Ever. I'm told it's called popover bread, which had its 10 seconds of Hollywood fame in My Blue Heaven, courtesy of the dude who played Uncle Lewis in Christmas Vacation. Anyway, words will not do it justice, so you'll have to try for yourself. But just a tremendous job. And if that wasn't enough, here comes the applewood smoked bacon, which I'd put up against its Peter Luger counterpart in a second. To cap it off, the Caeser Salad was very strong, and the croutons had a little extra kick. This part of the meal could not have been better. All Class. SCORE: 10

Sides: So tempting to try the Jeff Conine asparagus, but decided against it. Went with the creamed spinach (standard), potato gratin (standard), and the stuffed mushroom caps (a bit of a changeup). The sides were a bit on the small side (that's what she said), but we were so stuffed from the bread and apps and salad and chop that it didn't make a difference. The spinach was not quite at the Popeye Standard set by Cap Grille, but it was still solid. Possibly in the Top 5. The gratins were solid, not spectacular. Of course, anything compared to the au gratins at DelFrisco's are subpar. But anytime the potatoes are soft, that's a plus. The 'shrooms (settle down, Gonzaga) were pretty tasty, although a tad dry. SCORE: 8

Chop: Don't know about all of you, but my chop needs to be charred. And this one was, so bravo to the chef. Obviously went with the 14-oz NY Strip - my go-to if I'm surveying a chophouse for the first time - and it was cooked perfectly medium, which made it very easy to saw through. Some negative points as Mayor's chop was a bit well-done to his liking. The optional Bearnaise sauce was perfect for those side pieces that are a bit gristly. A strong chop that was a few spices away from a higher tally. SCORE: 8

Dessert: Both of us are out of steak-eating shape (my gut would suggest otherwise), so dessert was a long-shot after that feast. Still, we checked out the menu, and it was disappointing. As Chris Russo would say, "That's a baaaad job" if you don't have a cheesecake on the menu. Pretty inexplicable. And no chocolate cake either (note: there was some hippie version of this, like a tart or some nonsense). Menu was salvaged somewhat by the TJ Lemon Sorbet. Mayor had a drive home ahead, so we passed on a tawny Port. SCORE: 6

Crowd: When we first sat down, there were two beautiful babies sitting to our left. Certainly not your normal chophouse occurrence - not that I'm complaining. After about a half hour, they were replaced by a couple of dudes in their 40's. One of them was rocking the George Pataki haircut, only if Pataki rolled out of bed and forgot to execute his comb over. The other guy thought he was hot shit, even though he had apparently killed and skinned the camel whose skin made up the fabric of his blazer. ANYWAY, after a few minutes, he called over the waiter, and asked that drinks be sent over to a couple of middle-aged ladies sitting across the room. Moments later, another waiter comes by to report that the ladies wanted to buy them a drink instead. Clearly confused (and a bit perturbed), he insisted that is order be executed first. Later on, after a convenient bathroom break, the dude introduced himself, but the damage had been done. Whoever was to blame, the fact remains that the Send A Drink Over To The Lady routine that is gold in the movies was clearly botched, and no recovery was possible. SCORE: 7

Service: Where to begin. Classy host, fast-moving bartender. As we headed over to our table with half-full Miller Lites, a waitress appeared and insisted she carry them over for us. All. Class. A separate guy came over with our menus, and yet another who offered us water. The waitress was very nice, although not the type you can B.S. about chops with. The friendly cutie pie at the coat check was rocking Napoleon Dynamite's girlfriend's ponytail. I tipped her and then we went outside and played tetherball. SCORE: 10

General Class Factor: The meal and service were so good, that we're willing to forget the "Ghostbusters" atrocity. Friendly, non-pompous people serving your meals, harmless New Yorkers trying to act a bit cooler than they really were, and a chophouse atmosphere where you could hang with your boys just as easily as taking your lady for her monthly dose of red meat. SCORE: 9


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whats your problem man, Ghostbusters rule!