Monday, November 17, 2008

A Vegetarian Who Loves BLT

A goal of mine while living in NYC is to dine at every restaurant in the BLT family, as you know I’ve made it to BLT Prime and BLT Market, both of which left a lasting impression. Since those outings I’ve ventured to BLT Fish Shack, BLT Steak and BLT Burger. (BLT Fish is the only one that’s missing!) As a vegetarian I’m probably harder to please then their typical customer so hopefully the fact that I love these restaurants despite my non-carnivorous ways should only further prove how wonderful these restaurants are- amazing service, knowledgeable staff, impressive décor and great food and desserts.

BLT Fish Shack is located directly underneath BLT Fish on 17 St. between 5th and 6th Avenues. The décor at BLT Fish Shack is not shack-like at all; in fact, you feel like you’ve just walked into a local Cape Cod restaurant. Diners sit in white wooden booths upholstered with nautical blue and white striped cushions, there’s a raw bar where fish specialists are preparing mussels, clams and lobsters in the middle of the room and the menu and daily specials are written out on chalkboards throughout the space. My friends ordered mussels and calamari for appetizers and lobster and fries for their entrees. I joined the clean plate club by choosing from the "Pick A Fish" section of the menu where patrons choose a fish- Organic Salmon, Yellowfin Tuna, Cod, Skate, Striped Bass, Flounder or Steamed Lobster- and a sauce- Lemon Hollandaise, Spicy Salsa or Tartar Sauce, all of which are served with arugula sald and a choice of rice pilaf or roasted potato. I had the Organic Salmon grilled and topped with the Spicy Salsa.

A few weeks later I made reservations via OpenTable for BLT Steak while my dad and brother were in town visiting. Just like at BLT Prime, our meal started with the amazing popovers, severed with butter and rustic sea salt. We ordered appetizers to share followed by our individual entrees. I definitely recommend these vegetarian options: the Roasted Beets and Apple salad, a side of Grilled Asparagus and the Chopped Vegetable Salad. For dessert we enjoyed the rum laced carrot cake with cream cheese icing, Carmaelized New York cheese cake and the Sliced Fruit and Berries.

Later that week I took my brother to BLT Burger, who surprisingly offers a to-go menu, located on 6th Ave. btw 11th & 12th Streets. We began with an order of sweet potato fries that were cooked to perfection. My brother ordered the Classic Burger which is made with 5 oz. of Certified Black Angus beef, however we have heard from friends that the Lamb Burger is the best. Having looked at the menu beforehand I knew I had to try the veggie burger. I have never tried the frozen veggie burgers like Boca Burger, nor do I want to, so I saw this as my chance to order a “gourmet,” handmade veggie burger. It was served on a whole wheat bun and made with a medly of organic grains, vegetables and spices. It was good, especially when I loaded it with ketchup, but I’m definitely not hooked. We topped off our dinner with milk shakes! A friend of mine recommended that we try their spiked milkshakes which included a list of tasty sounding concoctions like The Shocker (Stoli Vanilla, Oreos, vanilla ice cream) and Grandma's Treat (Maker's Mark, caramel syrup, vanilla ice cream). My brother ordered The Shocker, while my theory was, why mess up a good thing that I only treat myself to about once a year with alcohol because chances are I wouldn’t like it. So I ordered a vanilla milkshake but asked to have Oreos in it. And of course, the other older sister was right! He didn’t love his, he was hoping that it would taste more like a milkshake and less like alcohol, while I finished mine so fast I wished for another. ;)

Many other cities are lucky to have at elast one of the BLT restaurants besides NYC including, San Juan, Washington D.C., White Plains, Miami, Los Angeles, Scottsdale, Las Vegas.

All of the BLT restaurants are owned by Executive Chef Laurent Tourondel. And interestingly enough the BLT stands for "Bistro Laurent Tourondel." After the four year program at Saint Vincent Ecole de Cuisine, where he earned a "d'Aptitude Professionnelle de Cuisinier," the French chef cooked his way through some of the world's most esteemed kitchens. He first opened BLT Steak in 2004 which garnered so much praise he then opened BLT Fish, BLT Prime, BLT Burger, BLT Market and BLT Fish Shack in NYC.