Taking over the kitchen of a well-established D.C. restaurant is fraught with its own set of perils. Patrons have pre-determined expectations and, for restaurants like BLT Steak DC, imaginative dishes run counter-intuitive to the “steak and potatoes” crowd.
Within these strict confines, the new and very young Executive Chef Jeremy Shelton weaves tried-and-true BLT Steak favorites with flashes of joyful experimentation and tasting.
Of course, any visit to BLT Steak begins with the piping hot and light Gruyere Cheese Popovers. Take a tablespoon – or a teaspoon for the calorie and heart conscious – and slather it over a split popover, then add a dash some sea salt. This is something not worth changing or experimenting with.
However, Chef Shelton brought some of his Miami experience with seafood -- at the Scarpetta at the Fontainebleau and Azul at the Mandarin Oriental Miami -- to BLT Steak with flair. The Wiano Oyster (MA) with Dashi and Balsamic Gelee was hearty, full and very tasty, but you should really order the Live Sea Scallop. Presented on a gorgeous open shell, the live sea scallop was flavored with Yuzu butter black truffle and had a firm yet soft texture. I don’t even like scallops that much and I liked it.
From the entrees, again with a seafood bent, the Seared Branzino is new and good. Presented with cannellini beans and pomegranate brown butter it was warm and hearty on a snowy night in D.C.
Still, I wouldn’t order it over the Wine Braised Rabbit. It’s always such a wonderful surprise to find different “meat(s)” on the menu, even if you are dining at a steak restaurant. Now, the best rabbit I have ever had was Chef Jeremiah Bacon’s at the Macintosh in Charleston, South Carolina and Chef Shelton’s was well-cooked on a bed of creamy polenta so rich and creamy I was desperate for more. I would certainly give him great credit for how soothingly filling this dish was to eat.
Now, the real treat in Chef Shelton’s experimental push comes from his desire to expand the Wagyu Tasting Menu. From a selection of Skirt, Strip and Rib-eye, I preferred the skirt the best. It had the best punch of flavor, almost edgy, and, again, like all the other meat, was nicely cooked.
If you still have room at the end, try dessert but honestly stick with the meats. It’s why you came to BLT Steak in the first place isn’t it?
BLT Steak DC
1625 I Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006