Working in the financial district of New York is my definition of living the high life. People roaming the FiDi are well dressed, impeccably groomed, and generally looking important with their Blackberry devices.
Then why do I have very little interest in working in lower Manhattan? The food.
I dread going to meetings in the Financial District for one reason: it’s quite hard to have a proper meal there. Lunch times are overcrowded, from the corner delicatessens to the fast food joints, the line of office workers just kills my appetite. Dinner time? Well honestly this place looks like a ghost town after business hours.
Those who can afford to take 3 hours off during lunch, they can simply hop on car service to the likes of Nobu and Wolfgang’s in Tribeca. What about the not so privileged ? I’m talking about the not-quite-there-yet group of bankers, accountants and lawyers that actually need to be in the office to do real work. I hope BLT Bar & Grill is the answer as I entered the doors.
The W Hotel, which houses the BLT Bar & Grill, is part of the revival of the Financial District post 9-11. From the entrance of the hotel, you can hear the construction of the new World Trade Center. This for me is still an eerie and slightly depressed feeling. However, seeing new buildings rise out of the ground shows the persistent nature of New York. This new W Hotel is breathing new life into the area, bringing some much needed hospitality services among the countless offices.
One more interesting factoid before we get to the food. During the construction of this project, the BLT Group (original named after the chef Laurent Tourondel) parted ways with the celebrity chef. So in some ways, this is the first BLT restaurant where the name is little more beyond a history and a trademark.
So how will BLT Bar & Grill do without the “LT”? Not too bad, in fact I’d say it’s just the right restaurant for the right neighborhood.
The decor, and the casual American style menu doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s a bar, there’re a few TVs, and plenty of comfortable seating bathed in natural light (something cubicle workers would truly appreciate).
From the drinks to the entrees, everything was well thought out and delicious. Even the bread was a welcomed change of pace from the usual baguettes and sourdough that you regularly get at restaurants in this neighborhood.
Our four entrees of fish, chicken, pork and steak were all cooked brilliantly.
I loved the tenderness of the chicken and the pork chops, two types of protein that are quite challenging to execute well.
For dessert, two colleagues shared a soufflé. It was creamy, rich, and just the right portion to get you through the afternoon without food coma.
On my way out, I spoke to the manager about the Twitter post earlier this summer that set the foodie websites ablaze. The story that Fat Tire Beer might finally make it to New York City at the bar of BLT Bar & Grill. There was a subsequent Twit that said it wasn’t happening, and I wanted to find out if it’s temporary, or permanent? Her official response was that the brewery simply ran out of stock before the restaurant had its official opening, and that the arrival of Fat Tire Beer is imminent. There you have it folks, another reason to come here once the kegs make it over.
Got an early meeting with a vendor in the Financial District? Dread no more. After the meeting, make sure they take you to lunch.
Photos taken with iPhone4
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BLT Bar & Grill (Make a Reservation)
123 Washington Street
New York, NY 10006