Sometimes restaurant reviews can be difficult to prepare for. What if the food isn’t great? What if the service is subpar? What if they forget to take the cheese off my burger and I have to send it back because I’m lactose intolerant? Upon dining at BLT Steak, none of these questions came to mind. On the contrary, I found myself wondering how I could possibly do the food and experience justice with a mere combination of words, because what I experienced truly transcends the English language…
I approached BLT Steak with a calm sort of confidence. Ah yes, a steakhouse. Of course, I’ve been to many of those before. Shall I get the Ribeye or the NY Strip? Certainly I’ll get the baked potato for a side. After all, I thought I did my due diligence by checking out the website, glancing at the menu, and Google mapping the surrounding area, but once I walked through the front door, I realized my preconceived notions were as far from accurate as possible. It was a classy establishment. It would probably be one of the best meals of my life.
I thought, what better way to start my meal than immediately ordering a cocktail and a charcuterie plate? Clearly, the combo did not disappoint. The cocktail was rye-based and called “Rye Don’t We Just Get Along,” so not for those of you who get set off by trace amounts of gluten, and the charcuterie platter highlighted three pork selections and one beef. The rye and hint of bitters from the cocktail complemented the fattiness of the meat nicely.
Next came the largest seafood platter I’d ever laid eyes on, filled with oysters, Littleneck clams, crab claws, shrimp, and an entire half-pound of lobster. Having been tested negative for a shellfish allergy just a few weeks prior, the testament of grandeur came at the most amazing time and was accompanied by nothing less than a light and delicate Brut Rosé. I now know for sure what I have heard to be true: the lusciousness of lobster is truly one of a kind. My mind was seriously blown. I had literally never experienced anything like that. Literally. Like I had to ask my friend to prepare bites of the crab claw for me because I didn’t even know how to eat it.
At that point my stomach was about 98% full but I decided I must persevere. I’m glad I did because next came one of the best bites I have ever put in my mouth – grilled double cut smoked bacon with scallops, accompanied by a precious beet salad. The bacon was no grocery-store-meat-section-pre-packaged absurdity; it was the real deal. So real that I honestly didn’t know where one acquired such a cut of meat. Probably directly from the butcher. It truly was remarkable seeing a slice of bacon that had remotely no fat on it, and so exciting once I realized the scallop was almost like the fat’s replacement. When that had dawned on me, I knew Chef Mark Hennessy was a genius. I also seriously debated never eating bacon without scallops again, but then the sound of my crying wallet brought me back to life.
Next came the main course, and as you’ve probably noticed by the trend, it was far from disappointing. Before me sat a few items: succulent duck with a slightly sweet cabbage slaw, truffle mashed potatoes, Hen of the Woods mushrooms, baby Brussels sprouts, and, the pièce de résistance, a plate of thinly sliced, A5 grade Wagyu beef tenderloin. To say I was experiencing sensory overload would be an understatement.
The Hen of the Woods were one of the main highlights of the course. They were cooked in a way that actually made them crispy, and almost like you were eating a carb. I could not believe I was eating a vegetable. All you mothers out there, if you want your children to eat vegetables, grab some Hen of the Woods and cook them crispy, they’ll never know.
Of course I need to talk about the A5 Wagyu tenderloin. If you don’t know about Wagyu, let me give you a brief introduction. The Wagyu is a breed of cow that originates in Japan. The Wagyu, known for their “marbled” fat cells that provide energy for the animal unlike other breeds, are the most pampered cows in the world. A Waygu’s muscles get massaged. A Waygu gets fed sake when it’s stressed out. The Wagyu is afforded several luxuries most humans wouldn’t even dream of. Some might think this is ridiculous. I say God Bless whoever realized the taste potential of the Wagyu.
I had heard a lot about this cut of meat from the server, and was almost intimidated to eat it. Actually I wasn’t intimidated, I just wanted to sit and stare at it for hours because it was so beautiful. Once I finally regained consciousness, I took my fork and carefully transported one slice from the serving plate to my plate. I then took my knife, merely touched the piece of meat, and it instantly sliced in half, almost as if on its own. I then, again, very delicately, moved the bite from the plate into my mouth, chewed once, and found God.
The meal was concluded with an assortment of desserts that included a chèvre panna cotta, a chocolate peanut butter mousse likened to the “Elvis,” a selection of seasonal sorbets, and a pleasant limoncello-based cocktail with raspberry sorbet.
BLT Steak is a type of establishment that rarely exists. It is the type of restaurant every chef dreams to cook for. It is the type of space any restaurateur wishes they could call their own. It is class. It is grace. It is ingenuity. It is creativity. It is exquisite food. It is one of the best restaurants in DC.