Monday, June 04, 2007
Great Northern BBQ
354 Metropolitan Ave.
at Havemyer St.
(L train to Bedford or Lorimer)
OK, I’m going to attempt to do something few publications can do: write about a place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn without using the word hipster. Here goes: Hipsters who aren’t cool enough to be vegans will love... wait... ah, crap! OK, for real, here we go: From Kim and Joe Carroll, the lovely people who brought you Spuyten Duyvil, Williamsburg’s Belgian beer heaven, comes the next big thing for a neighborhood already annointed the next big thing. Fette Sau (translation: Fat Pig), a rib-sticking barnyard bbq fiesta, replete with communal picnic table seating, 55 bourbons and a slate of delicious, ice-cold local tap beers.
I visited with my bandmates last week and we did it up right: gallon jugs of Brooklyn Lager off the tap, tumblers of Blanton’s bourbon, neat, of course and a chef-picked meal for four that included pulled pork, two racks of ribs, beef brisket, flank steak, and a tray of sides including a paper cup of delicious, tangy baked beans; cold potato salad; a massive pickle; spicy red-pepper flecked broccoli; and sauerkraut. The verdict? Pretty damn good, though still a rung below the city’s more established BBQ emporiums.
I give high marks to the pitmaster. The highlight of the meal was the pulled pork, juicy and flavorful. The ribs were also excellent, blackened with a tasty dry rub. The brisket was a bit dry, but delicious. Those of you who prefer a lean brisket versus a brisket marbled with fat will love this one. Besides, the BBQ sauces, served on the side, can alleviate any, uh, dry meat issues. The sides were utterly forgettable, though forgivable.
I have to imagine it takes time to properly work in a massive gas-and-wood-fired smoker, so it’s understandable if Fette Sau, which has only been open since March, isn’t quite firing on all cylinders just yet. It can also be confusing to order for first-timers. There is no table service, you order by the pound right from the counter, which is really just fine, and authentic to some of the best BBQs I’ve been to. But, unless you know how many ribs are in a pound, you’re better off asking the chefs to help you out. They will, and will do a fine job.
There are ways to do Fette Sau without breaking the bank, but be prepared to spend, especially if you wish to drink. We spent $200 on dinner for four with beers and bourbon, and that's without table service. Somehow, Jack Daniels becomes a $7 glass of bourbon (2 oz.) when featured next to its more aristocratic counterparts on the whisky menu. That’s just wrong.
But Fette Sau gets it mostly right. So many other BBQ restaurants trip all over themselves trying to be authentic “Southern” BBQ, a mistake Fette Sau avoids, preferring instead to embrace its Brooklyn environs and to prove that, yeah, we Yankees can light a good fire, too.--F