I’m going to channel the Captain Planet-like forces of the two other food bloggers that I dined with (Andy Freedman from Wined and Dined and Lawrence Weibman from NYC Food Guy) and write a super-review (planet-style!). I always thought Wheeler was going to hook up with Linka one day, but I guess that much sexual tension was only going on in my mind and would never see the fruition in a children’s cartoon. But I digress …
So my review is more thorough, funnier, has more pictures, and I got interviewed for an NPR story while I was eating, which is more than I can say for those two (or that one – I don’t know how they do their reviews over there). It’s odd; I actually brought the guys up in conversation (on tape – you’re welcome, Chris and Andrew) as one whose opinions I respected, and then they gotta go and rate Fatty ‘Cue a 3.8.
Did someone fart on your salami? This place was great, and all three of us loved it, so I know I’m not wrong about this. Now here’s the kicker; not only did we love it, we were full when we left and pleased with the price that we spent on the meal. Three of us got out of there for $175, and Andy had two picklebacks at the table (Jill, you just have to get a handle on this guy ;-) ).
Oh, The Pickleback. The Picklebacks were money.
Bourbon, pickle juice, and a PBR. There’s more to the pickle juice than just pickle juice, but I’m not 100% on the ingredients – regardless, they are the perfect first step on this journey. The flavors work quite well together and this one is a must have when you get here.
The one thing I want to know is how they could come in and not get a pickleback? They’ve been so hyped up. Even though they missed a couple pieces of this puzzle, Immaculate Infatuation is still right about a lot of things. Let’s start with those:
The Master Fat: Just going to link the picture because white toast and oil in low light on red plates makes for ZERO food porn value, and next to the same in taste. Pass.
The Cucumbers: Smoked chili, brown rice vinegar, toasted sesame seeds. Pass. Cucumbers in a bowl; exactly right. You want some cucumbers that will melt your face, go to Szechuan Gourmet and order … the cucumbers.
The Brisket: The Fette Sau Brisket crushes this brisket. I like what they’re trying to do here, with the pork bun style/make-your-own-banh-mi action, but the flavor falls way short. All three of us had our own little brisket bun creation and we didn’t feel like we got ripped off on the meat. Of course, we came in slingin’ biz cards, cameras ablaze, with a reporter in tow, so maybe we got hooked up on the portion size.
Turn that frown upside down little bun: just because you’re served on top of this average brisket, doesn’t mean you have to get all pouty about it.
So that’s what they were right about. Now, the contrapositive and some more of the stuff they missed:
The Bowl Of Noodles: I’m wrong often, and this one, I guess I’m wrong on, because Andy, Lawrence, and Chris all loved these, and I didn’t. Certainly not for $9 – I’m sorry. If you’re going to sell noodles for $9, I need something in there like a mushroom or a fried egg. Something. The bowl of noodles is exactly as small as it looks there. And it’s $9. Fucking $9? Sitting here typing this … it’s absolutely impossible that standard 3X restaurant markup could be used here. I got robbed ordering the noodles, the fat, and the cucumbers, but they were only $20 all together, so it didn’t really seem like a big deal. Now that I think back to it, I’m kind of irritated.
The Ribs: How does Chris mention math in his intro, write about the price, and then not mention the fucked over economy of scale going on here? I don’t actually see this on the menu, but taking this from Chris, It’s actually $4.66 (repeating, of course) a rib for three and $5 a rib for four. Why do they punish you for being seated as a two or four top? That makes no sense.
Notice that there are only two ribs in the picture – it seems that my food photography wasn’t quick enough to capture this plate in all its glory.
These guys rolled in after we were finished and were eating at the bar; we told them what to order, and when the ribs came out, before one of the guys even touched the ribs, he told the bartender “Let’s get another order of those.” His friend commented that he wanted to wait to see how they tasted, but as soon as they bit into them, they fell silent.
Did I mention that they were incredible? They were incredible. It’s a toss up between these and Dinosaur for best ribs in the city.
The ‘Cue Coriander Bacon: With steamed yellow curry mustard and pullman toast. This was Andy’s favorite bite. The flavors come together in this creamy, smoky, curry-y conflux and enhance the bacon. I indicated that you could get better bacon (standalone) across the street at Peter Luger, and everyone agreed, but the combination here was a big win. Take note: DO NOT eat bacon by itself, the bite wouldn’t exactly be worthless, but it’s not what the chef intended.
The Lamb Ribs: Strong, but I definitely wanted more lamb here, so I am agreeing with the portion claim just this once (well, I guess twice – the noodles). I am a huge lamb fan. Something about that meat that you don’t get from any other animal – I think it must be the distinct taste of lamb grease. That sounds gross, but it’s oh so tasty.
I wondered why they didn’t try to do more of a Thai basil/mint thing with this stuff as a play on the traditional European lamb presentation (this is a cool little read on mint jelly with lamb.
Fazio Red Curry Rubbed Duck: This was not simply a smoked duck, this is how the duck wants to be remembered when it passes on. I could eat a whole duck prepared this way. I’ll agree with Chris that the curry dipping sauce didn’t really add anything to the flavor, but I had one bite with the dipping sauce and just didn’t dip anymore, it was great buy itself. Pink in the middle, crispy on the outside – I wanted to try these with some rice pancakes, green onion, and black bean sauce. Maybe if the chef was less enamored in Thai food preparation and spent a few weeks in China, I’d see this happen.
Smoked Crab Laksa: I didn’t like this at all. The lime overtook the dish and made it hard to detect crabbiness and smokiness. We might have just got a bad batch, because it was overpoweringly limey. They said it was their best stuff, and I’d been excited to try it before, but I was let down.
One thing I don’t think that Chris gets is that smoking food is not inexpensive. With all the production that goes into preparing smoked meat, it is going to cost a lot of you do it right, and it’s going to cost more if you don’t have a huge place like Dinosaur Barbecue. If you ever wondered why barbecue places are almost always behemoths, there’s your answer. I’ll get into explaining this another time.
The other thing they didn’t review; The S’mores Pie. Why are you not ordering dessert? You can’t get by in this town just reviewing appetizers and entrÃ©es, gentlemen. Well, actually, I think you can, but just because the place is known for smoking meat doesn’t mean they can’t crush it on the last page of the menu as well.
This was one of our favorite bites of the meal. A part of our conversation went pretty much like this:
Lawrence: Oh man, it was the graham cracker crust that made it for me.
Andy: Yeah, but the mousse-like chocolate in the middle? That was good stuff.
Lawrence: Can’t forget that marshmallow on top. The way they browned it? They must have done it with a blowtorch, creme brulÃ©e-style.
Me: Yeah, when there’s three components of the dish and you’re fighting over which one made it awesome, you know it’s pretty damn awesome.
Of course, to bookend the meal, we had another pickleback interation, the Tong Po. We three were the first people to try this drink, and our bartender was proud to show it off. Adam listed the ingredients in the ‘pickle’ shot: Pineapple, smoked chilis, rice wine vinegar, ginger, tamarind, and vanilla bean. It started with a not too tasty sugar-derived Thai whiskey called Mekhong, and finished with a Singha, which I am sure Sifton would have preferred.
I liked the pickleback more, either because I liked the bourbon or because the steps of flavor were more complementary. It might not be salvageable simply for that terrible Meh-Kong shot in the beginning, but maybe the juice just needs a few tweaks.
We grabbed a car home (because that’s what you do in Brooklyn) and rocked it back into the city. We all thought this place was great, but it definitely had some rough spots. Nothing that you can’t avoid when you come here and have a great meal.
Don’t listen to Chris on this one.
91 South 6th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211