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The world-famous popovers that start any meal at BLT Prime

Sharp Focus

by Jen Karetnick | Photography by Michael Pisarri | Miami magazine | September 25, 2014

Miami is a sneaky kind of steak town. Given our abundant, aquatic natural resources, you’d be right to assume that seafood-focused restaurants proliferate here; we’re not exactly Chicago, stuck in the middle of the corn-fed, cattle-rich Midwest. You’d again be correct to think that big, succulent cuts of beef don’t really suit our figures, which both weather and culture conspire to make us display.

But we do benefit from discrete populations of Latin Americans, many of whom derive from countries—Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay—where the pampas reign supreme, who have brought their carnivorous leanings with them and have passed those cravings to the rest of us.

Thus the steakhouse thrives here, whether it’s the all-American, upscale chain (The Capital Grille, Ruth’s Chris); the homegrown kind (Christy’s, Prime 112); the comes-with-a-side-of-pasta Argentine grill (Las Vacas Gordas, Graziano’s); or the all-you-can-digest Brazilian rodizio (Fogo de Chão). So you’d be forgiven if you think that the recently installed BLT Prime at the Trump National Doral is just another location, location, location in which to consume, consume, consume. Of course, you’d be incorrect. As befits a Trump property, BLT Prime lives up to its appellation.

Indulging here begins with the complimentary eggy, cheesy, puffy popovers, made famous by Laurent Tourondel, when the French chef was a part of the BLT restaurants (including the 2004 flagship BLT Steak in New York, a replica of which was installed in The Betsy Hotel, South Beach, in 2009). Tourondel is no longer associated with the BLT concepts, which are now run by ESquared Hospitality, the company founded after the 2011 breakup by Tourondel’s former business partner, Jimmy Haber.

Fortunately for all concerned, the recipe for the popovers isn’t proprietary—since the beginning, it’s been handed out to guests and published in magazines, and newspaper columns—so we still get to enjoy these deliciously monstrous overtures to a meal. Naturally, they’re irresistible without anything on them, but just for kicks, slather them with sweet cream butter that’s been dusted with sea salt on top.

That dissolution between the pair of original BLT partners years ago may have been bitter, but you’d never know it by how this establishment, one of the two most recently opened by the company (the other is in South Korea), is run. Old-school servers aren’t likely to hurry you along in your enjoyment of any course, be it mushroom-stuffed mushrooms accompanied by a dirty martini or a peanut butter-chocolate mousse bombe paired with an espresso martini, though they do check back often to see what needs replenishment. They understand, as do frequent guests, many of whom are in Miami for business or for a golf vacation, the many different selling points of the experience here: the fare and the vibe.

While the first is courtesy of Head Chef Paul Neidermann and Chef de Cuisine Dustin Ward, coupled with the best available cuts of USDA prime certified Angus beef and other excellent products, the latter is thanks to an amalgamation of signature Trump style and a recent renovation. The rotunda-style dining room showcases materials such as gleaming walnut wood, natural stone, scrolled railings and buttery leather banquettes. Sit facing the equally spacious veranda, which is framed by floor-to-ceiling windows and offers views of the grounds, including the epic Blue Monster golf course. If you time it right, you can catch the South Florida day’s spectacular denouement while you dip into any number of appetizers and salads that rival the sky for attention: roasted beets composed with refreshing haricot verts, lightly bitter endive, pungent Gorgonzola and candied walnuts; ahi tuna chopped by hand and lightly tossed with ripe yet still firm avocado in a citrusy soy rinse; and grilled Nueske’s double-cut bacon in a sherry vinaigrette as scarlet as a sailor’s sunset.

Just as dazzling is a different kind of light show: the iconic South Florida thunderstorm. Storm watchers can relish a peerless encounter with cinder-hued clouds and strikes of lightning hitting the greens while they slice into any one of nine cuts of beef, expertly broiled to a juice-sealing singe at 1,700 degrees and then topped with herbed butter. My personal favorite is the 28-day, dry-aged porterhouse—which is offered, at 38 ounces, for two (or more) people—because it provides several different textural opportunities. On one side of the bone, the velvety tenderloin beckons; on the other side, the pliant short loin awaits. But I’m also a big fan of the more manageable 10-ounce hanger steak and the meltingly rich wagyu 10-ounce top cap. Both of these latter options are limited in quantity, so if you have a craving for them, call ahead and reserve them.

BLT has nine main course options other than steak cuts, and these include their justifiably famous Dover sole fillet, sauteed in a brown butter flavored with capers and soy sauce; grilled branzino presented with two styles of artichoke, both braised and fried; and simply grilled U-10 (10 to a pound) jumbo shrimp, perfumed lightly with a touch of basil oil. A roasted veal chop with a crust of fragrant rosemary and garlic confit is another standout, and even a half, free-range chicken is a temptation, stuffed under the skin with preserved lemon, rosemary and breadcrumbs.

Many patrons go to steakhouses for the sides, and you wouldn’t be misguided to do the same here. Creamed spinach is a garlicky triumph; sauteed hen-of-the-woods (also known as maitake) mushrooms add an exotic touch to any protein; and five different kinds of potatoes satisfy the fussiest of eaters. But the crunchy, greaseless onion rings are perhaps the most memorable, stacked in size order like the teething tubes of old for babies.

Given the superfluity and international range of steak venues you can find, well, just about anywhere in Miami, you might wonder why it behooves you to head west to this one. Until you experience it for yourself, you’ll just have to take our word for it: BLT Prime and the Trump National are a heavenly match made in Doral.

BLT Prime
Trump National Doral, 4400 NW 87th Ave., Doral, 305.591.6606

Lunch, daily, 11:30AM-3PM; dinner, nightly, 5:30-10:30PM

Raw bar, $18-$98; appetizers, $10-$18; salads, $11-$23; USDA steak cuts and American-style Kobe steak cuts, $29-$92; main courses, $26-$55; sides, $8-$13; desserts, $7-$10

Seafood Selective
It’s not all about the steaks here. The raw bar platters are elaborate arrangements of jumbo shrimp, crab claws, Maine lobster, clams on the half shell and a variety of oysters.

Crowd Control
Diners here are as varied as they come: Business meeters-and-greeters, convention-goers and golfers—oh my!

Wardrobe 101
You’re in suburbia, so think conservatively in terms of style. Gentlemen, a jacket wouldn’t be out of place at dinner.