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BLT Prime

Note: Click here for a later visit to BLT Prime, and here for an earlier one.

BLT Prime is the only restaurant in Laurent Tourondel’s empire that’s open on Sundays. I had a BLT craving today [November 20, 2005], so I headed out to the restaurant, arriving at 5:00pm (opening time).

Both BLT Prime and Steak serve a $28 entrée that’s a riff on the familiar BLT sandwich. Here, it’s made with ‘kobe’ beef and foie gras, and served on toasted ciabatta bread. (You’ll find a photo of it at the website of either restaurant.) It’s about the cheapest meal you can have at BLT. I decided to give it a shot. It’s a tasty sandwich indeed, but like the burger at DB Bistro Moderne, a bit of a gimmick. I could barely taste the foie gras, and the beef was nothing special. At the price, I rate it a dud.

I had a couple of other complaints. The BLT sandwich comes with an enormous helping of french fries, but this isn’t stated on the menu. It seems to be the only entrée that comes with a side dish, so I had no reason to expect fries. My waiter happily took my order for a side of potato skins ($7), which left me with twice as much potato as I needed. (Probably four times, actually; either the skins or the fries came in portions far beyond what I could eat alone.) Had I known the sandwich came with fries, I would not have ordered the skins.

By this time in the meal, the server assignments had been re-arranged. My new server came around to ask if everything was alright, and I told her I was a bit miffed that the menu didn’t announce that the BLT came with fries. She remarked, “I would have told you that.”

I was also unhappy with a cocktail called a Tamarind Margarita ($11). It came in about the smallest cocktail glass I’ve ever seen. The drink tasted fine, but one expects a margarita to be a little bigger than that.

On the other hand, the restaurant is generous with extras. When I sat down, the server brought a helping of a wonderful paté and crispy bread. While I was devouring that, one of BLT’s famous popovers arrived. The popovers, first introduced at BLT Steak, weren’t initially offered when BLT Prime opened. I suspect they had some complaints, and now both restaurants have them. (They even provide a free copy of the recipe.) I did not order a dessert, but the kitchen sent out two half-dollar sized hazelnut ice cream sandwiches, which were excellent.

Overall, it was a mixed performance for the restaurant. It is hard to believe that I dropped over $50 for a cocktail, some potato skins, and a glorified BLT sandwich.

Well, despite my misgivings the second time around, I still award three stars based on superior overall performance.

BLT Prime (111 E. 22nd Street between Park & Lexington Avenues, Gramercy)

Food: ***
Service: **
Ambiance: **
Overall: ***

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