BLT Fish has been around since 2005, with chef Amy Eubanks, who started as sous chef after logging hours at Cello and Café Boulud, at its helm as executive chef since 2010. Shortly after opening, it received a Michelin Star as well as a three-star New York Times review. On a recent visit, it still had all the energy of a recently opened hot spot, but the menu has had time to find a groove and live there comfortably.
The restaurant is actually on the third and top floor of its building; guests enter into BLT Fish Shack, a totally different, more casual, experience, and take an elevator up to the dining room, which is dominated by a giant skylight and an open kitchen. It’s a comfortable space, almost too comfortable for such a high-end restaurant, but it’s an unstuffy, almost fun atmosphere that inspires you to take your sports jacket off and kick back a little. All good things.
Appetizers include the standard shellfish tower, but we’d advise skipping it in favor of chef Eubanks’ crudo preparations, which demonstrate a real knowledge of each ingredient and what best accompanies it. Pacific hamachi crudo was brightened up by grapefruit, with diced avocado for richness. The richness of salmon belly carpaccio was tempered by celery and fresh horseradish.
Entrées also demonstrate a deft hand; the skin on the Mediterranean branzino is as crispy as broiled chicken skin, and the sunchokes, shaved raw fennel, and saffron on the plate all work together to create a delicate balance. Seared escolar (pictured), with a meatiness similar to swordfish, was taken in a completely different, but also well-balanced, direction, with parsnip, blood orange, and pistachio. Nicely cooked Belgian Dover sole receives a traditional preparation, topped with fried capers and Meyer lemon brown butter.
It’s refreshing to see a menu these days that isn’t overflowing with fatty meat. After a meal at BLT Fish, it feels nice to not leave overloaded. It’s also great to feel like you’re eating seafood the way it was meant to be prepared.
Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers.