Restaurant Name: Char No. 4
Restaurant Location: 196 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY
(photo credit: Robyn Lee)
Sid and I have been eying Char No. 4 up like a leg of lamb for some time now. And, finally, last night, we took a bite. Did it live up to our drool-inducing expectations? Hell yes.
First, this is no place for vegetarians. I believe I saw some sort of vegetarian pasta on the menu...but let's face it: however upscale this spot might be, it's a bbq joint and in bbq cooking, veggies are a garnish. Plus, the meat here is awesome - perfectly cooked, perfectly smoked, and super-tender.
For starters, we had the Smoked and Fried Pork Nuggets with Char No. 4 Hot Sauce and the House Cured Lamb Pastrami with Coriander Aoili and Rye Toasts. Both were great. The nuggets were super-crisp on the outside and soft, soft, soft inside (the interior was smoked, minced pork meat) While delicious, I think I might have preferred meat that had not been minced. The sauce was HOT and though it was advertised as a "house" sauce, it tasted suspiciously like Sirracha to me.
The pastrami (pictured above) was delicate, sweet, salty, and generally fabulous. It was mounded atop a mustardy aoili and topped with pickled onions and tiny micro-cilantro (which I'd never had...and LOVED). I'm not certain I've seen Sid eat anything quite so happily in all my life.
For dinner, we tried the House Smoked Spare Ribs with Jalapeno-Bacon Cornbread and Baked Beans and the Smoked Pork and Maple Sausage with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon. Again, both were great. The ribs were very meaty and very juicy. The outsides were crusty with spices (though the sauce they were served with was perhaps a bit on the vinegary side). The cornbread was the most awesome thing EVER. I could have consumed an entire plate and still wanted more. It was fluffy, tender, flecked with fresh jalapeno, studded with crisp bacon, and served with honey butter. Good lord.
The beans were the big disappointment of the evening. Cloying, thick, and almost crunchy (undercooked?)--they generally sucked.
The housemade pork sausage was delicious - very juicy, creamy with pork fat, and slightly sweet from the maple. It was served on a bed of tiny Brussels sprouts that had been sauted with crisp bacon nuggets and (I think) some hazelnuts. Very rich.
Though Char No. 4 is billed as a Whiskey house (and they have a truly impressive array of Whiskey cocktails, etc.), they also have a small but solid wine and beer list. Overall, great food and drinks, friendly, helpful service and a fun atmosphere. Plus, there's that cornbread....mmmmmmm.