You can bet that anything Donald Trump puts his name on will be over the top. And in the case of BLT Prime at Trump National in Doral, you would be wise to double down.
The space is plush, and depending on your tolerance for glitz, bordering on tacky. The architecture — with its Corinthian columns, topiaries and fountains — evokes a Vegas casino. The image is reinforced with a massive red carpet and motorcycle at the entrance. You will even find a portrait of The Donald himself, pointing his finger and mouthing, “You’re fired!”
We found ourselves happily munching on airy puffs of golden, Gruyère-laced popovers and a divine smear of chicken-liver paté, quite convinced we had found paradise — in Doral, of all places.
Not so fast. Shrieks of “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” rang out from a table of families with preschool-age kids seated directly behind us — inexplicable, considering the dining room was mostly empty.
The manager shrugged his shoulders when we complained. He handed us his card on our way out, by way of apology.
We waited for appetizers for what felt like an hour, a delay that seemed more pronounced due to the fact that our otherwise polite, well-trained waiter disappeared on us. Like any hotel kitchen responsible for three meals a day plus room service for the resort, this one can get backed up.
When appetizers did arrive, I was thrilled to sample one of the best crab cakes I have had in years. This thick, full-on meaty patty was draped in ribbons of shaved fennel and bracing chunks of lemon pulp, see-through coins of radishes and showered with piles of fresh dill, all resting in a deliciously rich aioli.
A tuna tartare cube was brightly flavored with soy sauce and lime-ginger dressing and topped with a nice crumble of crunchy potato gaufrettes.
Our gorgeously composed lobster salad with two massive claws was slightly overdressed, but lovely with its nice arcs of avocado, radishes and a coddled egg. A lunchtime entrée of chicken paillard over tiny sprigs of arugula was equally impressive.
For mains, we ordered the bone-in rib eye as well as a Kansas City strip. The kitchen cooked both a proper medium-rare, as ordered, with juicy, warm, red centers.
The steaks looked as though they could be on the cover of a glossy food mag, but both lacked flavor. Thankfully, a selection of sauces compensated, including a lusciously stand-a-spoon-in-thick béarnaise.
Sides were mostly very good, an exception being oddly sweet brussels sprouts studded with bacon. Of course, potato dishes, including mashed, are addictively buttery and rich.
Like the whole concept, the dessert menu includes a blend of classic steakhouse nostalgia mixed with modern choices. A praline malted sundae and peanut butter chocolate mousse were a bit much for us. Our favorite was the exquisite passion fruit crepe soufflé that was as light as cotton candy but not nearly as cloying.
A fine collection of dessert wines by the glass complemented the sweets well. A gorgeous, amber-colored and caramelly 2010 Sauternes from Chateau Suduiraut is a nice choice that works perfectly with the chocolates. The stale coffee served tepid, however, did not impress.
Despite mostly spot-on cooking from the talented chef Dustin Ward, BLT Prime could use a service revamp and a few food tweaks before diners can feel like a pricey gamble here will pay off.
Critics dine anonymously at the Miami Herald’s expense. Follow Victoria Pesce Elliott on Twitter: @VictoriaPesceE.