111 East 22nd Street
(between Park and Lexington Aves)
Price Range: Entrees, $24-45; Dinner $49-79
When I stepped out of the taxi, I thought, “Thank God I wore something cute.” BLT Prime, the third installment in Laurent Tourondel’s triptych of Steak and Fish, happens to be right next door to the Elite Modeling agency, from whence pour frighteningly beautiful people. Not to be outdone, Prime is effortlessly chic, combining light and dark neutral tones to evoke a more modern glam kind of traditionalism.
Though the word “prime” called to mind math problems and a Transformer named Optimus, diners will be pleased to learn that the title refers to the array of red meat offered on the menu, a close match to BLT Steak. The BLT cult has trained its servers and hosts extremely well and our waitress was happy to explain the different kinds of meats and fish, as well as suggesting some of her favorite appetizers. Eaters are encouraged to try an appetizer, entrée with choice of sauce, and a side of vegetable or starch. I’m a bloodthirsty carnivore, so I ordered the Filet ($40) perhaps a bit too excitedly (my date was only slightly alarmed) and it didn’t disappoint. Pricey? You bet your Metrocard. Worth it? It was nearly perfectly tender and melted in my mouth. The special salad of warm potatoes, asparagus, onion, and vinaigrette held its own as a summery treat and delicate companion to my date’s Tuna Tartare ($14), which arrived in a cube atop avocado and ice, impeccably fresh. Choosing from the Fish side of the BLT coin, my date also sampled the Swordfish ($33), impressed by its fresh and succulent flavor. “It tastes like Nantucket!” I exclaimed, though after progressing halfway, we both agreed it had brought a mite too much salty sea air with it.
The sides arrived in adorable black pans, creating an illusion of home not entirely in keeping with the décor, but I didn’t care once I dove into the Creamy Spinach ($8) and buttery Mashed Potatoes ($7). The desserts offered the illusion of homemade but ended up too stiff. The Carrot-Walnut Cake with butterscotch sauce ($9) seemed a stuck-up version of its highway diner counterpart and the Pecan Pie ($9) was far outclassed by what you’d find in any Texas burger joint. That said, I still ate most of it.
I left with an ache in my belly and my wallet, but determined to make BLT Prime my new “Dad’s in town and wants dinner” standby.