Monday, April 12, 2010
So if you're expecting anything other than a rave review of BLT Market, too bad. I had one minor complaint about the meal, but we'll get to that...
At Christmas, restaurant gift certificates are a popular gift in my family of food lovers. This year, I was elated to get one for the BLT restaurant group from my brother and his family. It's been packed away for the right opportunity and with Spring weather upon us, Jeff and I ventured into the City for the day. I booked the reservation on Open Table about 3 weeks ago - it was surprisingly easy to get a prime-time table.
Situated on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Central Park South, the restaurant offers glimpses of Central Park. It's smaller than I expected, but very pretty. A chalkboard announces the additions to the seasonal menu and the hostess station is surrounded by shelves of market items for sale, including Tourondel's cookbook and postcards of the stunning paintings that add color and flare to the restaurant.
The menu offers a good selection of seasonal fare. Appetizers included Maine scallops, Mache salad, and an asparagus terrine, among other things. Entrees included fish, duck, chicken, veal, and lamb, all prepared with seasonal produce. Spring was definitely in full swing at BLT Market.
Our order was promptly taken and we were served an amuse bouche and some garlic bread. The amuse bouche was, well, odd. It was pigs in a blanket. When I heard that I thought it must be some sort of gourmet sausage, but to my surprise it was a hot dog. It was wrapped in a flaky dough and topped with a little sauerkraut and some mustard. It was very good as far as pigs in a blanket go, but seemed out of synch with the rest of the menu. Our only guess was that it was selected due to the beginning of baseball season, but it just seemed odd...
The garlic bread was another story. It was moist and delicious and each slice was slathered with a pesto that was flavorful but not too garlicky. Yum! That was more like it.
Our first course came quickly. We shared an appetizer portion of the risotto: Arborio risotto with English peas, morel mushrooms, Rock shrimp and Coach Farm goat cheese. This dish was sublime, divine, and well, just other-worldly. The peas were crunchy and sweet, the shrimp tender an surprisingly plentiful and the morels added an earthy flavor to the whole dish. The rice was al dente and the whole thing came together with creamy aged goat cheese. My mouth was in heaven.
I doubted my entree could top that, so I waited eagerly for a taste. The wait wasn't long. A server promptly placed our dinners in front of us - they say you eat first with your eyes, and this food looked good! I had opted for one of the additions to the menu: Branzino stuffed with seafood and served with a radish and micro green salad. Jeff selected veal cheeks blanquette with pearl onions, and fava bean ragu. The dishes were very different but equally delicious. My fish absolutely amazed me: it was a whole fish, skin on, but had not a bone in it. When you think stuffing, breadcrumbs usually come to mind - this didn't have a single breadcrumb. It was full of chopped shrimp and scallops and a few sweet plump raisins. Jeff's veal cheeks were tender beyond belief with perfectly cooked vegetables, including sweet, crunchy fava beans.
Needless to say, there wasn't a bite left on either of our plates. We did not, however, save room for dessert. We were presented with two cinnamon crusted donuts: little munchkin-like donuts, steaming hot and a perfect ending to the meal.
Gracious service and excellent food in a lovely setting put BLT Market on our list of restaurants we'd visit again. If you get the chance, give it a try - you'll experience some of the best seasonal cuisine around.