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Once upon a time, Laurent Tourondel was one of the city’s leading practitioners of this kind of old-world, Continental cooking. But when his four-star seafood restaurant Cello folded after the dot-com crash, he turned his attention to the less fickle, more dependable realm of beefsteaks and chops. For several years, Tourondel was the front man for a string of popular, eponymous BLT restaurants (BLT Steak, BLT Fish, BLT Burger, etc.), until he got into a squabble with his partners and left. Now he’s back in the big-money steakhouse racket, this time as the executive chef at the Tao Group’s (Tao, Lavo, etc.) pricey, perpetually mobbed new beef palace, the Arlington Club, which opened earlier this winter in the vaulted, split-level space that used to house François Payard’s namesake patisserie on Lexington Avenue and 74th Street.
I was a big fan of the original BLT Steak, and many of my mother’s discerning uptown friends (along with many discerning critics) have been singing the praises of this latest Tourondel operation. But with the exception of an oozingly tender côte de boeuf for two ($130), most of the dishes I sampled tasted like they’d come off the standard, if grievously overpriced, steakhouse assembly line. My sole “modern” meunière ($59) was oversauced and fatally chewy. The roasted chicken ($29) was bountiful but overbrined, and my friend the Steak Loon declared that his New York sirloin ($54) was bland and “as burnt as a cookout marshmallow.” The usual armada of side dishes have their charms (try the creamed spinach and house fries), but none are quite as satisfying as Tourondel’s famous popovers, which are as big as grapefruits and will last you through dessert, if you husband them wisely.
In the tradition of Tao, this Upper East Side steakhouse also features a large, fairly ordinary sushi menu.Ideal Meal
Popovers, côte de boeuf, creamed spinach, house fries.
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