Food for Thought

BY Jen Karetnick | November 22, 2016 | Feature Features National

At the arts-driven The Betsy South Beach, chef Laurent Tourondel does right by the hotel's essence with LT Steak & Seafood.
Japanese tuna taquitos with mint-yuzu guacamole and sushi rice

“Ink runs from the corners of my mouth,” Mark Strand writes in his well-known poem Eating Poetry. “There is no happiness like mine. I have been eating poetry. ”

This is exactly how I feel when I hang out at The Betsy South Beach, a luxury boutique hotel that dates back to 1941. Despite its touristy location on Ocean Drive, nearly every evening there includes some kind of serious-minded literary reading, musical performance, art salon or gallery showing. Now the artistry extends to the hotel’s new signature restaurant, LT Steak & Seafood. A reboot of French chef Laurent Tourondel’s BLT Steak, which debuted at The Betsy back in 2009, LT combines breezy tropical notes with tailored textiles and framed photographs of both The Betsy’s historic past and signed headshots of notable artists and poets such as Allen Ginsberg. After closing in May, it reopened this fall with a seasonal menu that still features Tourondel’s notable quality steaks.

Indeed, an entire section of the menu is devoted to nearly a dozen cuts of prime or certified Angus or wagyu USDA beef, ranging from a surprisingly thick-cut hanger steak topped with maitre-d’ butter to a côte de boeuf for two. More than half a dozen sauces are available, at no extra charge, to add harmonics, and servers encourage you to order more than one. For the hanger and wagyu skirt steak, the tangy jalapeno-chimichurri is known to soften both the minerality and fibers of the meat. For those that are already pliable, like the filet mignon, it’s your choice whether to accentuate that richness with a St. Pete’s blue cheese or cut it with a shallot and red wine mignonette.
In fact, LT makes options a regular part of the dining experience. For instance, the Gruyere-topped popovers are served at the beginning of every meal with sweet butter as they always have been, and they’re just as crusty on the outside and pliable on the inside as ever—not to mention irresistible from the first bite. But if you decide you’d rather concentrate on the starters and salads—say, the soft, sticky bao bun stuffed with tender short rib, pickled jalapenos and ultrafresh, peppery watercress—the servers have no qualms about packing the popovers to go.

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