By Victoria Pesce Elliot
This recession-slammed season might seem a ridiculous time to open another pricey steak house on South Beach, and Laurent Tourondel might look like just another celebrity-chef name on the door. But the elegant new BLT Steak fills a need for superior fare and fine service on Ocean Drive.
“Resort elegance” in the Betsy Hotel courtesy of ultra-suede booths, boxy modern lanterns and a hand-lettered blackboard the size of a movie screen.
- Teasers: Complimentary chicken liver pate smeared on toasty sourdough bread and piping hot, Gruyere-laden popovers.
- Appetizers: Bold hamachi with avocado and hearts of palm.
- The Main Event: Steaks rosy-centered and cooked to perfection. Notably the heavily seasoned and lightly handled rib-eye served with its bones in a sizzling cast iron skillet.
- The Main Event Part 2: Simple branzino and crave-worthy Alaskan black cod with a honey glaze were nearly perfect.
- Sides a Plenty: Buttery creamed spinach brushed with garlic, nutmeg, Gruyère and béchamel and gorgeously seared, cigar-sized asparagus.
What didn’t work
- Boston lettuce with citrusy dressing was picture-perfect but timid.
- The fryer: Waffle fries, skinny fries and onion rings all needed more crispness.
- Seafood: A $50 Dover sole was marred by a gummy brown butter sauce with soy and capers that leaves a sticky film on the lips.
Complimentary orange blossom madeleines would satisfy a baby sweet tooth, but for connoisseurs of sweet, there is Key lime pannacotta, blueberry meringue pie with lemon sorbet and peanut butter chocolate mousse. The outrageous crepe souffle combo with pastry cream fused with a brulée torch is at once airy, rich, tart, sweet, creamy, crusty, smooth and rough.
BLT Steak, The Betsy Hotel, 1440 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 305-673-0044; 7-11:30 a.m., noon-2:30 p.m., 6-11 p.m. daily; later on weekends. Prices: Appetizers $10-$17, entrees $26-$50, sides $8-$10, desserts $10.
FYI: Reservations suggested; available at opentable.com. Full bar; corkage $35. Valet parking $20 with validation. AX, DS, MC, VS.