From first to last, it was a rather blissful experience. We were escorted by elevator to the main dining room on the third floor (the more casual fish shack is at ground level) and, upon entry, realized we had eaten in this space when it was a restaurant called Flowers (we hadn'r been there in its aubsequent incarnation as A.Z.) Once we were seated, we were served slices of thick chewy bread with a delicious cod brandade with potate puree, a wonderful starter. A few moments later, BLT Fish's signature cheddar and chive biscuits (recipe included!) arrived with a maple butter. Heavenly! I ordered the spicy tuna tartare and cod in a acacia honey reduction; my companion opted for the octopus salad (highly touted by Bruni in his Times review) and the swordfish with rosemary cassiette. We shared side dishes of Parmesan gnocchi, hen of the woods mushroom and english peas with morels and bacon.
The creamy texture of the square-shaped tartare, heightened by the addition of a layer of avocado at its base, was unctuous and satisfying and given a crunchy kick when eated in tandem with the kitchen-made potato chips that accompanied the dish. My partner enjoyed the octopus salad but felt that Bruni's review created expectations that weren't entirely fulfilled. (He remarked that he had tasted as good an octopus dish at Pylos in the East Village).
The entrees and side dishes arrived and provided even greater pleasure. Both pieces of fish were very large and perfectly prepared. We agreed the gnocchi, though lighter than air and served with a mound of parmesan, was the least interesting of the three sides, paling in comparison to the meaty hen of the woods mushrooms and the earthy and smoky pea dish. I should also mention that I enjoyed my chardonnay (if a little pricey at $13 a glass) and my friend his red as well.
Neither of us had room for dessert but sampled the greenapple cotton candy, chocolate truffles and golfball-sized cinnamon doughnuts that concluded the meal. The cotton candy was reminiscent of the pink confection served at Jean-George but far more appealing in its appearance (served in a large jar vs. the bricks at Jean-George) and taste.
Before tip, the bill came to approx. $ 150.00 which really isn't bad for a meal of this quality. And the server was kind enough to pack an extra helping (or two) of the cheddar and chive biscuits for our breakfast tomorrow. All in all, a wonderful experience and one we will look forward to again.