On Christmas day, John and I usually get all decked out and have our traditional brunch in Miami Beach. This year, we had to modify our plans. After a Christmas Eve dinner party and a candlelight church service, sleeping in was just a given, and by the time we were done unwrapping presents and playing with our new toys, the brunch window at our favorite place had closed. Nothing left to do but venture into uncharted territory.
Upscale restaurants are adopting the practice of offering a prix fixe menu for those of us without upscale paychecks who enjoy the pleasures of fine dining. BLT is such a place and, spoiler alert, this meal was a very nice cap to an already blessed Christmas. They start you off with a small plate of amuse-bouche-sized crustinis with chicken liver paté. If you're mildly hungry when you arrive, this delicate prologue will rev up your appetite.
But they don't stop the teasing there. The paté is followed by their signature Gruyere cheese popovers served with whipped unsalted butter and a shaker of sea salt. These are crispy balloons that exude fragrant steam when you puncture them. Inside, the dough is mixed with the cheese in such a way that you can't tell where one ends and the other begins. Apparently BLT is so proud of these, they come to the table with the recipe printed on a signature card.
For our first course, we both had the butternut squash bisque with spiced cream and pumpkin seeds. Spicy is usually a deal-breaker for me, but this time I caved. It was thick, luxurious, velvety and addictive. It was hard to make the expected polite pauses between spoonfuls.
For the main course, John ordered the Tomahawk ribeye cooked medium with a fun sweet potato allumette (shoestring cut). The steak was a show-stopper. It actually does look like a weapon... or a dinosaur limb.
I had the roasted Delmonico with bone marrow chimichurri and roasted rainbow carrots. My steak
was not as tender as the Tomahawk and also slightly under medium but well-flavored. The mixed-in bone marrow made the chimichurri earthy and robust, a fine companion to such a respectable cut of beef.
We tried both dessert options, the Buche de Noel with eggnog ice cream, and the caramel pecan tart with brown butter ice cream and Bourbon sauce. The Buche was notably second rate and the eggnog ice cream a blunt disappointment. The flavors couldn't have been further from the expected. It was a beauty though, bedazzled with gold-covered pecans.
Generally speaking, I enjoyed discovering this restaurant which is located in a splendid setting, Miami's Trump National golf resort. I strolled down the sweeping marble hallways, gazed upon the rolling greens from the classic colonnade-lined porticos, breathed in the rarefied air of affluence in the wrap-around terraces evocative of those on Mediterranean villas.
The only cloud over the radiant landscape of this evening was a misunderstanding in the reading of the prix fixe menu. It lists the Tomahawk ribeye as one of the three main course options. However, when our bill came, there was a substantial surcharge for the choice. Nowhere on that menu is this surcharge clarified, at least not that we could see. We're big fans of the prix fixe menu whenever it's offered, but in the future we will be more careful and ask more questions. Lesson learned.
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