Steak has always been a gentleman’s game. According to the New Yorker, in the early 1900s, when the first beefsteak clubs opened in New York, women were not allowed to enter. They were boy’s only affairs and even knives and forks were deemed unnecessary. In the 1920s, when husbands started bringing their other halves to dine at the clubs, menus began offering items such as tomato salads, fruit cups, and sides of spinach – even utensils appeared.
Even so, women kept their distance. The smoky environment and 60-ounce porterhouse steaks kept many women away. And the boys got their clubs back.
Times haven’t changed much. Steakhouse decor is a genre of its own and only recently have we seen a new breed crop up, free from the dark wood, leather bench, cigar room stereotype. The newly opened ‘anti-steakhouse’ steakhouse Dakota Prime, the revamped Mandarin Grille, and the latest to join the brat pack: BLT Steak.
Gone are the overly masculine interiors, replaced by stylish exposed faux brick and a cream-on-beige palette. The smart interior is matched by a smart menu that includes favourites from BLT’s mother restaurant in New York. All the side-dish staples are there, although many have a modern twist: creamed spinach, mash (but with jalapenos), gratin (but sweet potato and turnip). The appetiser list has been sexed up too, adding Maine lobsters to Cobb salads and pairing prawns with blue cheese rather than cocktail sauce.
We started with the steak tartare, not beef but tuna, stacked into a building block with avocado and dressed with soy-lime ($160). The tuna had a nice chill while the softness of the avo cut through the citrus dressing. If you are a Japanese food enthusiast you’ll already know this combination is a winner.
The vine-ripened tomatoes with burrata mozzarella ($138) was also a wonderful combination of creamy and tart. The onion-ginger vinaigrette heightened the flavours of the tomatoes and the soft, salty cheese.
In case you were wondering, the name of the restaurant does not reference the classic bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich. Rather, BLT stands for Bistro Laurent Tourondel, Tourondel being the man who has been busily reinventing the steakhouse in the US. Although the French-trained chef himself does not man the grill in Hong Kong, it’s in highly capable hands, those of Chef Chris Mark of Ocean Grill and Craftsteak fame. BLT’s prices surpass those at Craftsteak but the newcomer still represents good value in comparison to other steakhouses around town.
We tried an eight-ounce USDA filet ($318) and the USDA 14-ounce rib eye ($408). Both are certified Black Angus and broiled at a scorching 1,800 degrees to your liking – medium-rare for us.
The filet was packed with flavour and was so tender it could almost be cut with a fork. The eight-ounce was certainly enough for this diner and the entire steak was evenly marbled to ensure every bite was as wonderful as the last.
The rib eye, on the other hand, had a belt of fat that did little to flavour the meat and merely disguised the more edible parts of the steak. The texture was chewy and made us wonder if it had spent too much time in the freezer. It gave our jaws a workout. Whatever the case, go with the filet if you prefer a tastier, more tender cut.
For side dishes we tried the grilled asparagus ($78), the sweet potato and turnip gratin ($58) and the sautéed mixed mushrooms ($68). The blanched asparagus was tender and sweet, plated skilfully by the chef. The gratin was a homely baked dish of sliced root vegetables, cream, herbs and butter – humble and well done. The mixed mushrooms were a decent no-frills side.
We refreshed our taste buds on an order of carrot cake with ginger ice cream ($68). Although not our favourite choice for a dessert, it was highly recommended by the staff so we went for it. It provided an authentic though rich end to a heavy meal. The ice cream was spicy-sweet and rebalanced the palate nicely.
We were hearing “oohs” and “ahhs” about BLT’s braised beef cheeks and made a mental note to try these on the next visit. Sitting on the harbour front, with unobstructed views, BLT Steak would seem destined to do well.
Shop G62, Ocean Terminal, Tsim Sha Tsui, 2730 3508. Daily 11am-10.30pm.
Tuna tartare $160
Tomatoes with burrata mozzarella $138
8 oz filet $318
14 oz rib eye $408
Mixed mushrooms $68
Carrot cake $68
Ten per cent service charge $129.60
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Shop G2, G/F, Ocean Terminal