I went to friends and family at BLT Market the other night. (F&F is the industry term for test-run before a restaurant opens to the public.) Occasionally when I meet people for the first time they ask "you're married to Laurent?" Yes. And then they say "I just went to BLT Steak and loved it. All his restaurants are great." Yes. I love BLT Steak too, but that is not my Laurent, otherwise it would be called BLG. The T is for Laurent Tourondel.
I first met Laurent [Tourondel] back in 1994. He was chef de cuisine at CT , Claude Troisgros's restaurant. I was working at D'Artagnan. We spoke daily when he would call in to order foie gras, squab, and the like. Ironically, BLT Prime now occupies the CT space on East 22nd Street.
He opened Cello in 1999, which had a fast and fabulous run as one of the city's top tables. It was near-perfect seafood served in an elegant townhouse. Incidentally, the building on East 77th street was recently purchased and is now being used simply as a residence by the owner.
My dinner date and I were discussing our memories of Cello. I recalled the orange flower water donut holes that were served warm on a square porcelain plate at the end of the meal. Almost on cue, our waiter delivered a plate of two orange beignets filled with marmalade. Not exactly the same, but a sibling of the Cello donut and just as good.
That is perhaps the best way to describe BLT Market. It is neither BLT Steak nor BLT Fish. It is something different, but still has the feeling of the BLT family. The menu is a blend of Italian, American and French, all the food Laurent [Tourondel] likes to cook. Yes. I like BLT Market too.