Wednesday, January 02, 2008

BLT Steak= B-etter L-ook T-o (others for) Steak

Dear Frank the Assistant Manager and the water/bread guy at BLT Steak:

I'd like to thank you for your efforts. You two were the only ones who attempted any semblance of service on our inauspicious visit a couple of months ago to your establishment. The prime rib for two was delicious and came sizzling hot and perfectly prepared. The ginormous popover with big sea salt shaker was kitschy and cute (and equally yummy). Even your country pate in mason jar was a pretty delightful gimick. And the wine list...surprisingly decent! I even applauded the Long Islandite next to us with the very large diamond encrusted watch who (pre-cut his entire hunk of meat before feeding--like I do for my dog) got a nice bottle of Opus One (the "label" he heard about once in an episode of Entourage, no doubt)--and the way he talked about it was as loud as his watch. But I digress.

I had nothing against him (other than his existence). I was more angered by the General Manager who hovered over Joey Buttafuoco VI and his henchmen, smelling the sweet aroma of conspicuous consumerism and, perhaps, the large well-exercised bowels all the better to digest the pedestrian decadence of a meaty sales dinner, while ignoring the other diners--including us--on a somewhat busy Saturday evening. But that was only the beginning of the bad service. (And when I say bad, I mean it oozed the sickening scent of that which attracts a certain species of beetle .) It's unfortunate for all the hard work produced by the back of the house when the front of the house just f*cked it all up. Let me just list the various nodes of the bowel movement that was our experience that night:

1. We made a reservation for 7; we were seated at 8.
2. We called ahead and inquired about corkage. "Thirty-five," said the 14-year old hostess. Upon seating, the GM makes a b-line towards us and barks, "You know there's a charge for that don't you? [Yes, it's 35.] Sorry, you're wrong, it's forty (so deal)," [real professional]
3. Our server took our order. Someone else dropped it off. No one checked to see if the order was a) correct or b) if we needed anything in the hour and a half interim (except when the water boy came around to pour us more tap and until we summoned you, dear Frank to complain).
4. No one touched the wine that we paid "it's forty bucks (so deal)" for someone to effing pour.
5. The GM, after circle jerking with the "gentlemen" from Long Island, (I kid you not) SITS DOWN TO EAT WITH HIS FRIENDS, not once checking on us or the other tables. WTF? [scales the heights of professionalism].
6. The music was turned up so loudly (to drown out the reverberating din of conversation due to bad acoustics) that it was uncomfortable.

Look, here's the deal, Frank and water/bread guy (and the kitchen staff): you should tell Laurent Tourondel that you love your jobs and you like the idea of the restaurant. But when your captain is sinking the ship, aiming it directly at the iceberg called incompetence, you kind of wanna jump. There are many, many, many, places to go in this city to get a great steak at various price points (and this one isn't at the low end), so what people want is good service and atmosphere to accompany their yummy piece of flesh. You know this. Maybe he should as well.

Anyway, this could have been a great experience, as the food was pretty good. But as it stands, I will never go back, as the poor service and deeply JV operation reminds me more of a chain and less of a celebrity chef outpost. For the latter, I'll go to Brasserie Beck, WestEnd Bistro, or even Charley Palmer's. And for the former, I'll go to...well, I don't do chain restaurants.




Food Rockz Man said...

I've never been to BLT Steak . . . thanks for saving me a disappointing, expensive trip!

Anonymous said...

Love the blog and the write up on BLT! Hits the nail on the head with not only this establishment but several, err many others in DC! Unlike NY, the local labor market cannot seem to make the transition from being a smart ass in the street to kissing your ass for money!
On the good for BLT - avoid the service, go directly to the bar for lunch and devour one of the best manly burgers in the area!


Anon: Thanks, man. I don't disagree that the food is pretty good. I might even consider pulling up to the bar for a burger one day. My husband works almost next door to the place.

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