All words: Svetlana Legetic
All photos: Stephanie Breijo
No matter how you flip it or how much you like to maybe not think about it, DC IS a steakhouse town. The corporate credit cards, the wining, the dining, the impress-visiting-parents-and-foreign-dignitaries, the seal-the-deal dates-they all make the steakhouse a staple of the DC Restaurant universe. BLT Steak has, steadily, built the image of a younger, funner steakhouse brother: the popovers, the seasonal ramps menus, the toe-to-tail cooking classes, the barrell aging classes; they’ve done their bit to keep things fun and not-quite-as-expected and always a place we keep an eye out on.
And, with the new chef, Jeremy Shelton (following in the steps of Victor Albisu and John Mathieson) things are looking to stay as playful, if not even more so. Shelton previously spent time in Miami, cooking at Scarpetta, Azul at Mandarin Oriental and most recently Michael Mina’s Bourbon steak and it shows in his confidence in reinventing the classics, adding some of his Italian spins on them and creating dishes that, well, you can’t help but talk about.
Now that he has been in the kitchen for two or so months, we figured it was a good time to swing by and see how he has settled in. Most of the things we tried during our stop by were the BLACKBOARD specials he is running, though OBVIOUSLY popovers (with a healthy heaping of butter and salt) and their tuna tartare are classics you can’t pass up on. Trust us.
Next, the seafood appetizers we had were outstanding. The lobster fritters served alongside a truffle seafood bisque were to die for (all fresh lobster, all the time, as the photo below can atest-once that baby was out, it was nearly impossible to decide whether to eat those fritters or instagram ad nauseum)
and the oysters, laced in a lemon/yuzu froth were an unexpectedly lighthanded dish for a steak joint, and a welcome break in a sea of heavy comfort foods everyone else seems to be focusing on this time of year. Palate cleansing (in the best way imaginable too)
Obviously, the meat is the star of the show here. We had: the beef cheek which was so soft we basically just touched it with our fork and it fell apart (straight into our mouths)
a beautifully done scallop with seasonal, root vegetables
and, the crowning glory: a wagyu steak with a bone marrow and black truffle butter that was so rich and decadent I can almost still taste it in my mouth several days later. The official rumor is that Shelton is working on expanding BLT Steak’s wagyu menu, and if this dish is anything to go by, we’re all in for a treat. Even the most bone marrow shy diners will appreciate his new flip on the texture, coating it in a crunchy shell, and adding a certain herbal salineness to what you’d normally expect. And that butter-omg, that butter.
Having said that-please leave room for dessert. From the Crepe Souffle (below, dunked in a passion fruit sauce) to the penut butter chocolate mousse (with banana ice cream) to the old-school Malt Sunday (which comes with a merengue shell on top, perfect for that satisfying almost-brulee reminiscent first crack) – they all may seem like almost too much, but that is the whole point of the BLT Steak experience-going a little over the top a lot of times.
After all, that seal-the-deal date is not going to seal itself.
BLT Steak is located at 1615 I Street NW. Reservations available here.