Saturday, March 07, 2009

BLT Market: New York's Best Brunch?

Bring Your Appetite and Your Visa Card, You'll Need Them Both

The reasons I love BLT Market may be the reasons some hate it.

It’s a tad snobby, a bit touristy, a smidge stuffy and certainly expensive. But if it’s a terrific brunch you’re looking for, you’d be hard pressed to find a better morning than the one that can be had on the edge of Central Park at the Ritz Carlton New York.

My brunch visit to BLT Market was really by mistake, as I was under the silly impression that the restaurant would also offer its standard menu on a Sunday. Not the case. On Sunday, these seats come at a premium, and you’re gonna shell out some decent coin to hang with the big boys. The good news is that you’ll walk away happy having spent your monthly Starbucks budget on what is simply delicious food.

How much are we talking? The brunch at BLT Market will run you anywhere from $38 on up, depending on what you have in mind. The basic omelets, benedicts, etc…. all start here, and our friends at the Ritz add a surcharge for upgrades if you wish to step up to the hanger steak and fancy salads…. which is what we did. Gazing at what our neighbors were ordering, we couldn’t help ourselves. We did the salad thing… but more on that in a minute.

First, the baker. If in fact you choose to order the bread basket, you better be hungry. The problem here is that everything tastes so good, you won’t be nibbling, you’ll be inhaling. This is what happens when expert bakers send warm baskets of croissant, madeleines, danish, muffins, scones, baguettes and pound cake to the table. It is a beautiful pile of goodies and worthy of the trip alone.

Toss in almond brioche french toast, perfect fritattas, buttermilk pancakes, smoked salmon, a decadent croque monsieur and a hamburger the size of a Volvo, and you’ve now got a delimma of just what in the hell to order. The good news is there really is no bad choice.

Back to the salads. My companion ordered a lobster salad, piled about a foot high with freshly poached lobster, watercress, tomato, avaoado, etc… in a homemade buttermilk dressing. She didn’t speak much, as time gabbing would interrupt the assault on the dish. I understood. She was happy happy.

My salad was a crisp, fresh ceasar salad of romaine hearts on top of what was easily the largest piece of chicken I’ve ever seen on a plate. The chicken paillard was pounded delightfully thin, and covered not a plate, but a platter. The warm, lemony chicken proved to be the perfect partner to the salad, and sure enough the dish was just terrific. Everything about it was fresh and homemade… there was care going into the preparation of these dishes and it showed.

Don’t think food is the only thing at BLT that is dressed to impress. The meyer-lemon ginger mimosa was light and refreshing, as well as the pomegranate salsa bloody mary. Sure, these will set you back another $15 bones or so, but hey, you just spent $48 on a salad. Let it go.

I guess by now you can tell I like the food here…. and who wouldn’t. It is everything you look for in the perfect brunch and more. It just costs a small fortune.

So with this knowledge in hand, I approach BLT Market as such.

This can’t be my regular brunch spot… just as I can’t smoke Cuban cigars everyday. But when I am looking for something special… a treat…. this is the place.

If you are going to shell out serious dollars for a serious meal, you expect it to be good… and BLT Market is just plain good. So with any meal or service, you feel good in the afterglow when you believe you got what you paid for.

Let’s tally it up, shall we?

The room: Nebraska farm house meets Martha Stewart with a bucket of yellow paint. Charming and odd, in a good way. Kudos.

The service: Steady and polite, if not a hair slow at times… but professional. Reminded me of just about any Parisian joint on a Sunday morning.

The setting: At the foot of 6th Ave at Central Park couldn’t be better for a post-brunch stroll or carriage ride. Or, hang a right and walk to the Apple Store.

The food: Flawless. This is the level of fare you’d expect from a BLT property, and especially one in the Ritz. I’ll be back.

BLT Market
* American
* 1430 6th Ave, New York 10019
(At Central Park S)
* Phone: (212) 521-6125