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BLT Market

1430 Sixth Ave., at Central Park South; (212) 521-6125

Lunch, 11:45 a.m.-2 p.m., Mon.-Fri.; brunch, 11:45 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun.; dinner,
Mon.-Sun., 5:30-10 p.m.
CUISINE Seasonal New American
VIBE Farmhouse chic
OCCASION Family dinner, pampered affair
DON’T MISS DISH Veal-and-pork ricotta meatballs, American kobe skirt steak.
PRICE Appetizers, $12-$21; entrees, $26-$38; desserts, $9-$11.
RESERVATIONS Recommended.

When the chef launched BLT Steak, he lured with freshly baked
popovers just as suavely as he persuaded with a succulent porterhouse.
Now Laurent Tourondel runs a booming corporation: BLT Fish, BLT Prime and BLT Burger are all notches on his rapidly expanding belt.

At BLT Market, he bows to both seasonal and artisanal themes. It’s
impossible to miss the signs. Just check in at the hostess stand;
whitewashed shelves are stacked with artisanal goods: domestic olive
oils, as well as vinegars and syrups from across the country.

It’s a charmed space – with vibrant vegetable paintings, antique gardening tools and oak-plank floors – that eclipses its posh Ritz-Carlton address. Rustic wood tables are set with rosemary plants, and paper placemats wear seasonal catch phrases.

Tourondel playfully welcomes with gussied-up pigs in a blanket: a
Schaller and Weber beef-and-pork hot dog, wrapped up in a homemade
Gruyère-flecked pastry and topped with sauerkraut and mustard. It’s a
homespun amuse-bouche that makes a gratifying argument for the
trickle-up dining effect. At lunchtime, you’ll find a mix of
power-lunch brokers, jet-setters and BLT admirers soaking up the
sunlight as they partake in decorated sandwiches and Black Angus
burgers.

Lunch may be your best bet: Only then can you reap the benefits of
the excellent roasted leg of lamb panini, doused with fontina and
caramelized onions. Or a very fine blue-cheese-capped burger. Even the
seven-pepper-crusted skirt steak – a buttery, rich slab – is only
available before dusk. The dinnertime seven-pepper-crusted rendition, a
New York strip, wasn’t nearly as satisfying a cut of meat.

Of course, many engaging dishes appear on both the lunch and dinner
menus. Fluffy veal-and-pork meatballs are a must. Unusually light,
these robust meatballs are lavished with dollops of ricotta, a garlicky
tomato sauce and pea shoots. The semi-smoked wild salmon arrives tied
up with bacon – like a thick filet, and nearly as luscious as one,
though the floppy bacon failed to deliver a properly crisp casing.

On my fourth visit, I was relieved to find that an overdressed
watermelon-and-tomato salad retired with summer. But the stuffed
chicken did not: Rubbery skin clings to flavorless meat, and a side of
mushy tomatoes only added insult to an injured bird. What struck me
most about many dishes was that none of the ingredients revealed
themselves as singularly superior. Such was the case with a raw tuna in
an assemblage of tuna confit, avocado and hearts of palm. On its own,
the tuna sashimi wasn’t nearly distinguished enough to merit
market-fresh billing. This was also true of a Jasper Hill Bartlett blue cheese – not remarkably sharp – with leeks, candied walnuts and prosciutto.

However, a sumptuous pear tarte tatin shines, folded with an exquisite almond frangipane and skirted by port sauce.

Though BLT Market doesn’t critically raise the bar for the
market-driven restaurant, Tourondel once again proves himself an able
chef, a gracious host and a versatile entrepreneur.

Rubbery skin clings to flavorless meat, and a side of
mushy tomatoes only added insult to an injured bird. What struck me
most about many dishes was that none of the ingredients revealed
themselves as singularly superior. Such was the case with a raw tuna in
an assemblage of tuna confit, avocado and hearts of palm. On its own,
the tuna sashimi wasn’t nearly distinguished enough to merit
market-fresh billing. This was also true of a Jasper Hill Bartlett blue
cheese – not remarkably sharp – with leeks, candied walnuts and
prosciutto.

However, a sumptuous pear tarte tatin shines, folded with an exquisite almond frangipane and skirted by port sauce.

Though BLT Market doesn’t critically raise the bar for the
market-driven restaurant, Tourondel once again proves himself an able
chef, a gracious host and a versatile entrepreneur.

Until we eat again,
Restaurant Girl
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