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There’s No Recession at BLT Market

Note: BLT Market closed at the end of 2011. The space is now Auden.


Hardly a day goes by without another dozen restaurants practically giving their food away — anything to get customers to part with increasingly scarce cash.

But the recession has not yet arrived at BLT Market, Laurent Tourondel’s haute barnyard on Central Park South. I reserved a table for an informal meal with friends visiting from out of town, but my heart sank when I looked at the online menu. The place is more expensive than ever. If they’ve made any compromise for tough times, I sure-as-hell can’t see it.

Appetizers are $14–19, entrées $26–45 (the majority over $35), side dishes $8–12, desserts $9–12. None of the entrées come with vegetables, so for a three-course meal you could easily spend $70 per head before tax and tip.

You’ll likely go north of $100 if you drink wine, as the expensive list has few options below $70 per bottle. It tops out with an 1870 Château-Lafite-Rothschild at the odd price of $11,111.

You do, at least, get some nice extras, starting with the excellent “pigs in a blanket” amuse (right) and the terrific warm bread stuffed with spinach. I wonder, though, why they haven’t come up with any other amuses: I’ve had the same one twice previously. The novelty this time was a serving of warm, cream-filled doughnut holes after dinner.

Both savory courses were faultless: a Chestnut Apple Celery Root Soup with Mushroom Toast ($16; above left) and Roasted Halibut ($27; above right).

There is no mystery about why BLT Market is so expensive: the dining room was full on a Wednesday evening. The chef de cuisine these days is Ed Cotton, formerly of the Michelin-starred Veritas. His work here has flown beneath the radar, as the original reviews pre-dated his arrival, and I don’t believe any of the critics have been back. The Times never reviewed the place at all, an omission that ought to be rectified.

I think there are better options for your money, but if you happen to dine at BLT Market you won’t feel cheated. Everything is well executed, the service is excellent, and the faux barnyard décor is easy on the eyes, if not especially original.

BLT Market (1430 Sixth Avenue at Central Park South, West Midtown)

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

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