Fish-favoring Valley chefs go to great depths with a lunch-counter classic.
4225 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix
The purists among us might cringe at the thought of pairing fish with a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, but sacrilege or no, seafood BLTs are a hot commodity. At Buck &Rider, chef Adam Knowles serves a crab cake BLT ($19, pictured) for the ages. “We want to showcase the quality and freshness of our seafood and make it approachable for lunch,” Knowles says. Using fresh Phillips jumbo lump crab, Knowles fashions his crab cakes with mayonnaise and egg to bind, along with spices and a little lemon juice. He then coats the lobes in gluten-free breadcrumbs before searing them in clarified butter. The resulting crab cake is meaty, with big hunks of sweet crab, but also light and crisp. Knowles finishes the sandwich with Little Gem lettuce, a slab of vine-ripened tomato and several slices of crisp applewood smoked bacon, stacked between a poppy seed bun baked in the LGO Bake Shop. With a shmear of caper-laced tartar sauce to brighten the crab, it’ll get you hooked.
The Hidden House
159 W. Commonwealth Ave., Chandler
For a bucket-list sandwich, head to The Hidden House for a lobster BLT ($22). It’s every bit as extravagant as it sounds. Chef Brent Tratten starts with a slice of Noble Bread brioche toasted in clarified butter and topped with house-made lemon aioli. He adds confit Roma tomatoes (slow-cooked tomatoes with thyme and garlic), Sweet Gem lettuce, sliced avocado, applewood smoked bacon and lobster salad, a mix of lobster tossed in lemon aioli with parsley and chives. The chef’s finishing touch is bottarga – tidbits of salted, cured fish roe. “It gives the sandwich an ocean essence.” You’ll need a fork and knife to eat this open-face, multi-layered masterpiece. “We wanted to elevate a good classic sandwich and bring downtown Chandler a product that they really don’t have – fresh lobster,” Tratten says.
High Tide Seafood Bar & Grill
2540 S. Val Vista Dr., Gilbert
Chef Eric Emlet put the salmon BLT ($16) on High Tide’s menu when the restaurant opened in 2014 and it remains a steadfast selection for many of his customers. The reason? He serves up a 6-oz. portion of grilled sushi grade Scottish salmon to anchor the sandwich, which he recommends ordering medium rare. Emlet encases the salmon in a retinue of sweet butter lettuce; thickly cut, ripe tomato; pecan-smoked bacon; and a slather of an herb-heavy green goddess aioli perfumed with anchovies and lemon, all stacked on a pillowy brioche bun. His vision for the dish was to create the “perfect bite”: “You have the richness and creaminess of the salmon, all the herbs and lemon in the sauce and the saltiness and crispness of the bacon,” he says. “I’m just trying to complement the salmon, not cover it up.” Anchors aweigh.