Talk to people who’ve been around this town for a while and you’ll discover that DC used to be a bit of a one-trick pony in the food scene. We had steakhouses. Meat and potatoes was what we did. And though the city’s culinary scene has advanced by leaps and bounds, every now and then it’s nice to go back to those beginnings. And frankly, sometimes you just want a perfectly cooked, big, honkin’ steak. Enter BLT Steak.
The steakhouse down by the White House, which opened its doors in 2006, ushered in a new chef this past spring with the departure of Victor Albisu and the arrival of Jon Mathieson. Though French cuisine might not be the first thing that pops into your head when you think “steakhouse” (unless we’re talking about steak frites), Mathieson has been putting his classic French-training to work on the new menu at BLT. And it suits the restaurant well.
Courtesy of ThreeLockharts PR
At a recent dinner at BLT, I found myself enjoying more surf than turf with three out of five of our tasting courses being seafood dishes. A charred octopus dish with a light lemon herb vinaigrette and tiny, orange gooseberries rolled out. Then a ruby tuna tartare with avocado and soy-lime dressing, and then a pan seared paiche, a type of South American freshwater fish, with a black truffle vinaigrette. Don’t be fooled by the fact that these dishes were all seafood–rest assured that they were served in steakhouse-sized portions. Bright flavors from the lemon herb vinaigrette, the gooseberries and soy-lime dressing all stood out in the respective dishes.
Continuing on with even more seafood, if you find yourself at BLT in the next two weeks, you might want to join them in paying homage to the soft shell crab before it goes out of season. Mathieson and his team are rotating several soft shell crab dishes on the menu, such as a pan seared version with a spring vegetable ragout, a polenta-crusted soft shell crab, a sandwich version on brioche with sriracha aioli, smoked bacon and roasted tomato and more. If you’re intimidated by the idea of making your own soft shell crabs but want to eat them in the comfort of your own dining room, Mathieson can show you how to clean, prep and cook the crustaceans at a BLT cooking class on August 18 from 12:30 – 3 PM.
But enough about the seafood and more about the meat, which obviously there is plenty of at BLT. Before you get to the steak your mouth has been watering for, don’t pass up the grilled double cut smoked bacon. Thick, salty slabs of bacon and a few airy popovers smothered in butter or topped with a warm chicken liver paté and you know you are walking down the almost-too-rich path of the American steakhouse. Don’t let all of that steal the show from a dry aged cut of steak that’s cooked to textbook perfection of medium rare, along with the classic sides like creamed spinach or potato gratin.
If you haven’t tapped out by dessert, the strawberry sundae with meringue and madeleines or the Meyer lemon cheesecake with a huckleberry sorbet will satisfy the craving for something sweet after a lineup of savory dishes.
In the end, BLT Steak mirrors what the DC food scene does successfully: it combines the old with the new, the classic with something fresh. BLT makes room for the French influences, while staying true to offering great steaks and other steakhouse staples.