No Sense Left Behind
By: Maria K. Regan
At BLT Steak, opposites coexist easily – with inspiring results.
Complex wines present a variety of flavors and impressions that keep tasters savoring every last drop. So it is with Waikiki’s BLT Steak. From wine list and menu to atmosphere and décor, the dining experience gratifies all five senses with an engaging complexity.
The restaurant’s interior is traditional yet modern; welcoming yet refined. Warm-hued leather chairs and banquettes are inviting and comfortable; clusters of modern pendant lights, rich walnut floors, and feather-light curtains add layers of sophistication.
In the main dining room, two walls are nearly filled with floor-to-ceiling windows and glass doors, which are left open to catch the ocean breezes. Waikiki’s tropical elegance is in the air, whether you dine inside or out on the palm-fringed lanais.
Oahu’s natural beauty is reflected in BLT Steak’s décor, which includes a large floral mural in hot tropical colors on one wall, and a big-wave frieze behind the bar. Nature joins each table, too, in a small arrangement of petite dried flowers anchored by a handsome, pocket-sized piece of driftwood.
One of the first food items to arrive at every table is a plate of BLT Steak’s warm and airy cheese popovers, served with butter. Diners have the option to add a delicately crunchy dash of Hawaiian sea salt, dispersed from the restaurant’s iconic salt shakers. Shaped like miniature antique milk cans, these shakers echo the menu’s ties to local farms and add a rustic touch to each table. In addition to the signature popovers, all guests are served a complimentary amuse-bouche of chicken-liver pâté with toasted baguette.
Though the cuisine here reflects the melding of haute French sensibilities and hearty American fare, many of the dishes also have a touch of “washoku,” the Japanese culinary philosophy that emphasizes variety in texture, flavor and color. Take, for example, the Tuna Tartare. This appetizer is built on a base of smashed avocado, which leads up through a silky (and satisfyingly thick) layer of chopped ahi, followed by a crunchy topping of toasted shallots and, finally, a crown of soy-lime dressing. The contrast of bright avocado-green against rich ahi-red; the layered textures, and the unexpected square shape make this dish an intriguing feast for the eyes as well as the palate.
Other options to start include a variety of salads and raw-bar selections like oysters on the half shell flown in daily from British Columbia and Washington. Kampachi is served with avocado, pickled onions and a honey-orange sauce; crabcake with Meyer lemon and radish salad.
Beef is, of course, the main attraction. BLT Steak naturally ages its beef for maximum tenderness and flavor. All cuts are broiled at 1700 degrees – creating the perfect charred crust – finished with herb butter, and served with a selection of sauces.
Beef choices include Filet, Rib Eye, Porterhouse, NY Strip, American Wagyu Skirt, Braised Short Ribs and Hanger Steak, also called Butcher’s Cut. This last cut is seldom found in steakhouses because even for experts it’s challenging to cook. But when the challenge is met, as it is here, the flavor of this well-marbled steak makes devouring every bite no challenge at all.
Also on offer: island seafood, including grilled Keahole lobster, sautéed ono, and grilled tuna. Vegetables and potatoes are served family style – though you may not want to share your Spicy BBQ Kahuku Corn or Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes.
Additional dishes are featured on the Blackboard Menu, which Chef de Cuisine Johan Svensson changes daily to take advantage of fresh local ingredients. To complement its varied menu, BLT Steak’s wine list – recognized by Wine Spectator with a 2012 Award of Excellence – offers a well-chosen selection from quality producers in the world’s best wine regions.
As enticing as the wine list is, you’ll find plenty of additional temptation on the desert menu, including house-made ice creams (banana, pistachio, Maui rum) and sorbets (pomegranate, piña colada); Crêpe Soufflé with lilikoi (passion fruit) sauce, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Mousse.
Every meal at BLT Steak ends with a petit-four sized mocha-espresso brownie – crunchy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth heaven on the inside – compliments of the chef. That bite-sized brownie with two flavors (coffee and chocolate) and two textures (crunchy and heavenly) seems the perfect end to a meal at BLT Steak – the steakhouse with sophisticated seafood; the traditional yet modern enclave of French and American cuisine. Next time you’re in the mood for a meal that will satisfy a lot more than your taste buds, look no farther than BLT Steak.
BLT STEAK FAST FACTS
Dinner: 5:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 5:30 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Bar: 4:30 p.m. to close (7 days)
Private Parties: BLT Steak offers a private dining room and adjoining lanai for 24 guests. Room includes large flat-screen television for presentations or slide shows.
Cooking Demos: Every month, chef Johan Svensson hosts a cooking demonstration for 15-20, followed by lunch and a kitchen tour. Cost: $80.
Photos courtesy of BLT Steak