Say “steakhouse” and immediately I think of the mid-’90s: carpeted floors, poor lighting, dated table settings, and an over-priced a la carte-style menu. I don’t know what made me think True Blue Butcher & Table was a steakhouse, in that sense, but oh, boy, was I wrong! The design of the restaurant is elegant but homey—perfect for dinner with the in-laws or date night with best friends, which is exactly how I tested the restaurant for the first time last week.
My husband and I and two other couples decided to make a trip on a weeknight and made a reservation to be safe. Wise choice (and easy to do on the restaurant’s website): The place was packed! We were seated at a great table, close to the open kitchen (which I loved) so we could keep an eye on all the beautiful plates being whisked away to diners. We all ordered carte blanche, no holds barred. Before we dove into True Blue’s decadent menu, we figured we should probably eat a veggie or two—you know, so we don’t get scurvy. We started with a Caesar and the baby greens salads. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better Caesar salad, hands down.
That’s right. I said it.
It was seasoned perfectly, with every crisp leaf of romaine covered in tangy, salty dressing and topped with a few delicious anchovies. The croutons remained unseasoned but my friend pointed out: they didn’t need to be. They had just the right amount of fluffy crunch, plus the rest of the dish was so full of flavor, the croutons would have been competing. I love a fishy Caesar, but I know not everyone does. It would behoove diners to mind that detail when ordering it.
The baby greens came topped with berries, walnuts, and blue cheese (which we ordered on the side, and it did arrive as such) with a house vinaigrette. We gobbled it up and fought over the last frilly piece of frisee. It was the perfect way to start a meal: lots of playful textures and nothing overly rich.
Once the veggies were out of the way, we got elbows deep in the menu. True Blue’s menu contains a small plates section split into cold and hot. Our salads were cold, so from the hot side we went with bread and butter, shrimp saganaki and steak frites.
The bread and butter came with two small loaves: a savory bread pudding and a gingered brown bread. The bread pudding had a flavor I couldn’t place, so I asked our server. It was bone marrow! Are you kidding me? It was to die for! (Vegetarians beware: bone marrow wasn’t listed on the menu). The gingered brown bread was extra yummy with a schmear of sea-salted butter. The steak frites was more frites than steak, but there’s no such thing as too many French fries in my world. The tenderloin came in at a spot-on medium rare, while the steak sauce was a nice balance of sweet, tangy and umami. I didn’t use much of it though because the beef was seasoned so well, it just didn’t need it.
All slideshow photos by Tom Dorgan
The shrimp saganaki was the only thing that fell a touch short, as the shrimp were in short supply and a tad overcooked. Two large croutons seemed out of place, but hello, fried halloumi! The fibrous brined cheese ultimately kept us happy.
We probably could have stopped there, but we had cocktails to soak up and our group loves to eat. For the mains we ordered beef and bearnaise, smoked pork chop, gnocchi fritto, and pecan smoked chicken. We missed the boat on the chicken and longingly gazed as it was taken to a table of lucky diners.
The beef and bearnaise featured 6 ounces (or 9, if one prefers) of center-cut filet cooked to temp. It was topped with bearnaise, roasted mushrooms and came with potato confit. We ordered it medium rare, though it came a touch on the rare side. Still, we were completely fine and made it disappear very quickly. The bearnaise was a rich complement to the lean beef and potatoes, and mushrooms rounded out the classic dish.
The smoked pork chop was a generous slab of meaty, smoky goodness. Of all the dishes ordered, it was the most thoughtful and beautifully composed. The addition of sunchokes lent a unique starchy experience and the pistachio puree added an earthy, nutty flair. Salting the blackberries was ingenious, and we adored the edible flowers and pea tendrils. They gave the dish the perfect amount of zip. My highest compliments to Chef Bobby Zimmerman: I could eat this everyday.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, the gnocchi fritto was not a fan favorite. We asked our server if the apples on the dish were cooked or raw because one of our diners had a raw-apple allergy. We were told cooked, but they in fact were not. As well the gnochhi were fried and took away from their normal pillowy texture. Thus the dish leaned a little on the greasy side, too. The raw green apples did offer some welcome acidity, but it was all but lost on the dish. Regardless, everything else on the table was stunningly fabulous.
Despite the fact we were all too full to move, we pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps and ordered desserts: a classic gluten-free chocolate cake with strawberries, and a dolce de leche cheesecake. The chocolate cake was rich but not too sweet, with a sinfully fudgy texture. The cheesecake was light but creamy with the slightest tang, which kept all of us wanting more. The addition of the chocolate ganache on the plate was lovely.
It’s worth noting our crew is very close and we all have service-industry experience, so we treat every dish family-style; though, each could have been eaten by one diner. But what’s the fun of dining out with a group if you’re not sharing?
We all were planning our next trip for brunch (um, mimosa flights—yes, please!) and to try out more bar snacks because, well after one visit, True Blue in fact made us true blues. Perhaps one of the best parts of their service comes at the butcher counter. Diners have a chance to select a hand-cut, gorgeous, marbled piece of USDA prime beef and pick Chef Bobby’s brain about the best way to cook it. Or they could just pull up a chair and let the pros do it for them. Either way, it’s a win.