February 14, 2005 | Ask Gael
I’m dreaming of summer in Kennebunkport

       Latch onto the glorified lobster shack launched as phase one of BLT Fish - the latest love child of Laurent Tourondel’s crush on American cooking. Emigrating from landlocked Auvergne, Tourondel’s curiosity led him to explore and exploit our native cuisine: popovers, onion rings, the glorious chowders. He even indulges in slivered iceberg, smartly slicked with oil and malt vinegar as a nest here for fried oysters, and also deals in rude but irresistible battered and cream-cheese-stuffed jalapeño poppers. A full blast from the raw bar - oysters, clams, periwinkles, octopus, whelk, seviche, mussels, stone crab - will seduce shellfish connoisseurs. I’m knocked out by his invention, Taylor Bay scallops, lyrically bathed in apple and lime juice dosed with coriander and mustard oil. The chowders need some work, as does the cole slaw, but not the hauntingly mellow lobster bisque. Huge chunks of impeccably tender flesh overflow an absolutely gorgeous lobster roll in its proletarian red plastic basket beside a nest of superlative fries. As for pedigree, if it’s salmon, the menu promises, it will be wild. Sea bass, line-caught. Scallops, harvested by divers. Certainly our black sea bass is so judiciously cooked, it doesn’t even need its perfect lemon hollandaise. Plans for upstairs are grander, truer to Tourondel’s heritage. Beyond that, watch out. He confesses: “I really love barbecue.”

21 West 17th Street near Fifth Avenue 212 691 8888



Patina Restaurant Group