January 2007: 100 Very Best Restaurants

No. 53: BLT Steak

The arrival of this New York import will be hailed by gastronomes as evidence of the increasing sophistication of the city’s dining scene. While the place is too new to assess its long-term significance, it does seem to be a new generation of steakhouse.

Like Charlie Palmer Steak and Ray’s the Steaks, BLT Steak breaks free of convention and makes those manly clubs where wheelers and dealers order mammoth steaks seem fusty and old.

This is a steakhouse that gestures at formal seriousness (two-tone leather-and-suede booths) without veering toward the uptight (the sound system pumps out the likes of Kool and the Gang and the O’Jays). Or just call it a French sensibility; the owner and overseer is New York chef Laurent Tourondel.

Meals start with a gratis crock of excellent pâté; fluffy popovers appear alongside your entrée; fish isn’t regarded as a dish for wimps or women watching their weight; and the dessert menu includes a light souffléed crepe filled with ricotta cheese.

The steaks do not stint on savor or size, though the menu does encourage sharing the 40-ounce porterhouse and the 22-ounce bone-in rib eye. It tantalizes foodies with the prospect of real Kobe. How do you know it’s the legendary beef from Japan and not something masquerading as legit? Here’s how: It’s $130 for five ounces.

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