With its lively scene and sleek décor, the new Blackstones proves that a traditional steakhouse can indeed have contemporary flair
by Mary Kate Hogan
It’s been years since Greenwich counted an all-American steakhouse in its restaurant mix. At Blackstones, the menu appeals to traditionalists—there’s enough prime meat to satisfy any carnivore’s cravings—but the modern black-and-white décor announces that this is not your father’s steak place. Owned by restaurateur Eddy Ahmetaj, the striking space was designed by architect Rich Granoff, its interior encased in “black-washed” oak walls with oversized black drum-shade fixtures hanging from the ceiling. Tables dressed in white cloth surrounded by black leather chairs fill the dining room, and the back wall is lined with abstract art by Carin Riley. This clean, contemporary décor puts added focus on the food, which consists of steakhouse standards prepared and presented with care.
When we walked in on a Thursday night for our 7 p.m. reservation and spotted throngs of people in the bar area, we thought that a private party might be under way. No, just the after-work crowd, lots of men in suits enjoying drinks by the substantial backlit bar before sitting down to dinner. We were seated at a round corner table, an ideal spot for checking out the scene.
At our waiter’s suggestion, we started with Big Eye Tuna Tartare, an appetizer that confirms that seafood isn’t an afterthought here. With a hint of citrus from the yuzu, the ample mound of chopped tuna served with avocado and giant wonton chips tasted so fresh, it seemed the ideal counterpoint to our upcoming meat feast. For those who want even more of a seafood primer, there’s a full raw bar and giant seafood platter. The menu includes many classic appetizers, such as lobster bisque, melon and prosciutto and Maryland crab cakes (with a modern twist from chili aioli and rainbow greens) and retro baked clams casino, which was calling my name. The waiter circled the table to spoon out the clams to each of us; these juicy morsels, tender from butter and white wine with a smoky crunch of bacon, prove there’s nothing like a classic done right.
If you love the taste of blue cheese with meat, order a wedge salad for the table. Though it takes a little effort to split the hunk of iceberg and giant beefsteak tomato four ways, the salad’s dressing is addictive and fried onion rings on top irresistible. For a healthier beginning, the Blackstone salad blends tomatoes, crispy green beans, roasted red peppers and mozzarella with a sprinkling of bacon.
About the meat: Blackstones serves only USDA prime beef that’s dry aged up to twenty-eight days. Though the Porterhouse for Two is the most popular order, we opted for a ribeye (Bone-in Rib Steak), a rich and beefy Texas-size cut filling enough for dinner plus leftovers for sandwiches the next day. All meat entrées are simply prepared, straight up with minimal sauces, perhaps because the quality and flavor speak for themselves. This was the case with the lamb chops, beautifully crispy on the outside and lush pink in the center, and also the tender and flavorful veal chop. These dishes come out meat-only on the plate, so sides are a must-order. We opted for a simple sautéed spinach (creamed is also available) and a classic elbow macaroni and cheese. Non-meat eaters are catered to also with choices of wild salmon, sea bass, sea scallops, lobster and tuna on the menu, as well as a regular Dover Sole special; we liked the seared tuna coated in black and white sesame seeds.
You can sip your dessert here—think cordials, grappas, port, scotch and cognac—or sample traditional sweets like a light and fluffy tiramisu that was proclaimed “the best I’ve had in ages” by one member of our group. The New York cheesecake was stellar and quickly devoured, while a super-dense chocolate cake was too rich for me post-steak, but my husband had no trouble indulging. Throughout the meal, service was attentive and pleasant with a slight delay at check time.
If you have a taste for steakhouse standards done right and served in a cool atmosphere, this new spot epitomizes a classic made modern.