This Weekend’s Five Best Food Events – 7/3/2014

Tropical storm or no, a long holiday weekend involving hot dogs and beer is still something to get excited about. Here are five food events that you should take into consideration if you’re sticking around.

Delaney BBQ to Go, Briskettown, 359 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, Thursday

If you’re in need of a last minute solution to an impromptu party, consider ribs and brisket by the pound. Daniel Delaney’s smokehouse is offering both via pre-order; food will be ready for pick-up at 11 a.m. on the 4th. Place your order today only on Briskettown’s website.

Jersey City’s Freedom and Fireworks Festival, Liberty State Park, 200 Morris Pesin Drive, Jersey City, NJ, Friday, noon

A long weekend is the perfect time to explore a new neighborhood, and Jersey City is rewarding visitors and residents with an all day festival that will culminate with the Grucci fireworks show surrounding Lady Liberty. Food trucks, carnival games, and a free concert are all part of the event; the fireworks show starts after 9 p.m.

Hot Dog Eating Contest After Party, Professor Thom’s, 219 Second Avenue, Friday, 7 p.m.

If you can’t make it to Coney Island, hot dog eating champ Joey Chestnut will be kicking back at this East Village bar. The bar is also celebrating the fireworks’ return to the east side with beer specials and is known to throw some pretty epic costume parties — so break out those American flag pants from college.

Oliver’s Astoria Summer Fundraiser — Inaugural Cornhole Tournament, Oliver’s, 37-19 Broadway, Queens, Saturday, noon

Loosen up the arm and be ready to flex some muscles — beer-drinking kind included — with a summer charity cornhole tournament. For $50, guests can play for cash prizes and attempt to claim the title of champion while enjoying happy hour specials like $4 brews and $5 appetizers. Don’t feel like playing? Stop by to cheer on or boo teams. Be sure to register in advance.

SingleCut Beersmith’s Independence Day Celebration, 19-33 37th Street, Queens, Sunday, 1 p.m.

Celebrate your post-holiday hangover with more beer and BBQ, as this Astoria brewery will be keeping the door open to anyone who wanders in looking in for a drink special. Eclectic East Village craft beer pairing expert Jimmy’s No. 43 is bringing its smoker to Queens for a grand cookout, and the brewery plans to run drink specials every hour until 5 p.m.


Our 10 Best Barbecue Restaurants in NYC, 2013

It’s no secret that this city is in the throes of another barbecue renaissance, and like the cooking conditions for a well-done brisket, the process of getting to this point has been low and slow. The previous decade saw several spikes in ‘cue prevalence, adding regional styles to the restaurant landscape along the way. Post-millennial NYC barbecue owes thanks in part to operations like the now-defunct Pearson’s Texas BBQ (c. 1992) and Virgil’s Real Barbecue (c. 1994), which, while indeed real, now seems staid compared to the current smoky frontrunners (though, there are plenty worse options than Virgil’s Memphis pork ribs if you’re in Times Square). From early torchbearers like Danny Meyer and Adam Perry Lang to Zak Pelaccio’s Fatty ‘Cue and Hugh Mangum’s Mighty Quinn’s, the city’s smoked-meat options have never looked more well-marbled, and we can proudly declare that our barbecue bark is now as good as our bite. Here are our 10 best barbecue restaurants in NYC.

10. Butcher Bar, 37-08 30th Avenue, Queens

Ethically raised meat gets the star treatment at Matthew Katakis’s butcher shop turned barbecue restaurant. Pork ribs and burnt ends command respect, but the go-to order channels Philadelphia for inspiration. Chunks of smoky brisket topped with melted cheese and griddled onions drag an East Coast classic down South with compelling results. In-house sausages also give the shop ample opportunity to showcase the quality of its for-sale products; the plump links derive their homespun look from their coarse grind and natural casings, the filling bursting through the crackled exterior.

9. Hill Country Barbecue Market, 30 West 26th Street

However Texas-meets-Disneyland the place might be, this bi-level ode to the Lone Star State (and specifically, the Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas) displays its serious barbecue chops when it’s doling out thick wedges of fatty brisket and plump sausages imported from the very market that inspired the space. Load up on meat and sides like corn pudding and black-eyed peas and head to the downstairs bar where you’re likely to find a live performance. Past acts have included Tom Colicchio and Joe Bastianich, who tugged at both heartstrings and guitar strings to celebrate the launch of an “industry night” special a few years ago.

8. The Strand Smokehouse, 25-27 Broadway, Queens

When Queens native and former John Brown Smokehouse chef de cuisine John Zervoulakos decamped to The Strand, he promised to put his own local spin on the techniques he learned while under Josh Bowen’s tutelage. And so this beer garden-barbecue hall combo in Astoria serves Greek-inflected slow-cooked lamb leg, smoky and fragrant with rosemary, in addition to oddball specials like duck pastrami and beef short ribs hefty enough to rival Kenny Callaghan’s exalted specimens at Blue Smoke. Not into land animals? Zervoulakos channels old New York with barbecue kippered salmon, hot-smoked and served chilled.

7. Fatty ‘Cue, 50 Carmine Street; 91 South 6th Street, Brooklyn

Currently enjoying the quiet life with his family upstate, Zak Pelaccio started something special with ‘cue guru Robbie Richter in 2010 with the original Fatty ‘Cue in Williamsburg. Watching the brand expand to the West Village then shutter for over a year in Brooklyn only to rise from the ashes like a smoke-charred phoenix (mmm … magical bird meat) has been juicy drama for New York restaurant obsessives. Luckily, the meats coming out of chef de cuisine Anthony Masters’s kitchen are just as succulent as the gossip, as familiar cuts are put through the Fatty Southeast Asian wringer. Spots of brilliance come in unlikely places, as in a West Village starter of tender poached chicken tossed with intense smoked eggplant, celery, sesame, and pickled jalapeño. Bonus points for ending the meal with pies from Butter & Scotch.

6. Blue Smoke, 116 East 27th Street

Danny Meyer’s foray into barbecue country helped lay some of the foundation for the city’s current ‘cue climate, and over 10 years later, the food coming out of chef Kenny Callaghan’s kitchen has helped keep this spot relevant. Pulled pork achieves a balance of smoke and saucy tang, piled high over white bread during dinner or bursting out of brioche at lunch. Chicken wings exhibit a similar piquancy, cooled down when dipped into blue cheese. Also of note: Blue Smoke’s mac and cheese is some of the best in town, arriving at the table with a soufflé-delicate browned crust.

5. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 700 West 125th Street; 604 Union Street, Brooklyn

Twenty-five years ago, when everyone was scanning the South for smoked meat inspiration, John Stage up and opened a damn fine barbecue joint in Syracuse, New York. Now with locations in Harlem and Park Slope, the chain boasts two hallmark items–mammoth chicken wings and tender pork ribs–both of which hinge on Dinosaur’s addictive smoky-sweet barbecue sauce. But meats alone do not a barbecue restaurant make, and dishes like fried green tomatoes with smoked shrimp remoulade, as well as simple sides like Syracuse-style boiled salt potatoes, reveal the attention to detail put into the menu.

4. BrisketTown and Smokeline, 359 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, and the High Line near West 16th Street and 10th Avenue

Crowned the 2013 Brisket King (no really, there’s an actual crown), Daniel Delaney took his Texas-inspired barbecue game to the elevated streets when he opened Smokeline on The High Line. The Brooklyn flagship cooks up arguably the city’s best brisket, and even offers breakfast tacos starting at 8 a.m. Across town, you’d do well to stick to what’s between the buns. That means either “The Deckle” or “The Mess”: the former showcases slices of fatty brisket flickering with spice from a peppery bark and hit with the zip of pickles and onions, the latter is a mash of the same brisket, pulled rib meat, and griddle-crisped cheese assaulted with chili sauce and onion relish. Both are only available at Delaney’s Manhattan kiosk, which serves an abbreviated menu of brisket, sandwiches, and ribs.

3. Fette Sau, 354 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn

Williamsburg’s first post-millennial barbecue joint is also its most adventurous. Pork belly, a rare find in the city’s barbecue community, is a menu mainstay here, but if you happen to see any lamb or goat, jump on it. Feeling cheeky? Pinch at the glistening face meat of both pork and wagyu beef. In another New York barbecue first, Fette Sau was also the first outfit to experiment with slow and low pastrami.

2. Alchemy, Texas; 71-04 35th Avenue; Queens

Occupying the space that previously held Robert Pearson’s eponymous meat paradise (which then turned into Ranger Texas Barbecue), Alchemy is a playground of sorts for Josh Bowen of John Brown Smokehouse. Even if the end results aren’t always spectacular (though most of them are), it’s loads of fun witnessing the swirling aurora borealis of barbecue tradition and NYC ingenuity at work. To wit: goat ribs and a rosy, fat-capped hunk of prime rib redolent with smoky char. Even frogs legs appear, taking a wallop of Indian spices, a mop of foie gras, beer, and vinegar.

1. Mighty Quinn’s, 103 2nd Avenue

Hugh Mangum’s beefy brick-and-mortar aspirations have become the stuff of barbecue dreams. Don’t believe us? Proof comes sliced and piled into brioche buns in the form of brisket with a squirt of sweet-sour “Texalina” sauce. A hulking beef rib vies for the top spot with exemplary pulled pork. Both meats sport aggressive bark, with an interior that’s tender as can be. Throw in a solid list of craft beers available by the cup or growler, plus thoughtful sides like edamame with goat cheese, and you’ve got yourself a contender for the title. With a majority of highs and only one or two lows (pork ribs, lackluster sausages), Mighty Quinn’s might just be the most well-rounded barbecue experience in the city.


BrisketTown Is Serving Lunch and The General’s Got Doughnuts

ISA in Williamsburg is now open for lunch from noon to 4 p.m. The Mediterranean restaurant has turned some of their dinner entree options into smaller dishes divided into snacks, pizzas, soups, and salads. Some items, like the Tuscan kale Caesar salad garnished with sourdough croutons, are available for both meals, but the new breakfast pizza is topped with egg, pancetta, salsa verde, and fontina cheese. Muffaletta and Milanese sandwiches are served on homemade focaccia. 348 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn

Daniel Delaney’s BrisketTown began serving breakfast brisket tacos a month ago, and now they’re officially on the menu, served in tortillas with cheddar cheese and scrambled eggs. The bacon in a bacon, egg, and cheese taco is made from smoked and cured pork shoulder instead of belly. For vegetarians, a Brussels-sprout taco is topped with pickled onions, salsa verde, and homemade ketchup. Meat tacos are $4 each and vegetarian tacos are $3.50 each. The new lunch service also includes a smoked rib sandwich and a smoked brisket sandwich. Each is $6, but pricing is subject to change after a full lunch menu is instated. 359 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn

Hung Huynh’s new Asian restaurant on Bowery, the General, will now serve pastries and coffee from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the in-house bakery. According to Diner’s Journal, the new outpost opened on Wednesday morning and serves doughnuts “encrusted with cereals,” from pastry chef Thiago Silva. Think Cocoa Puffs and Fruity Pebbles. “Pretzel Bombs” are filled with bacon, egg, and cheese, and Stumptown Hairbender coffee is available. 199 Bowery

Chelsea’s Willow Road began serving lunch and brunch earlier this month. The weekday menu has heavy dishes like a beef pot pie for $19 and sea bass escabeche po’ boy with cucumber and pickled shallots for $16. Lighter options include the “Twenty Greens” salad for $10, and allows for add-ins like puffed wild rice. Weekend brunch includes a grilled grapefruit with mint sugar. 85 Tenth Ave.

Nordic hit Aska will now offer a 10-course tasting menu from chef Fredrik Berselius on Friday and Saturday nights for $115 a person. “We want it to be an opportunity to keep looking for other ingredients,” Berselius told Fork in the Road. “Now nothing’s growing in the farmers’ markets, but if it’s growing we’re using it.” He said spring and summer will be the most exciting times to try new dishes at the Williamsburg restaurant. Drink pairings can be added for $65. The new menu will be available after March 15. 90 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn

Salvation Taco, April Bloomfield and Roberto Santibañez’s modern taqueria in Murray Hill, is now open for weekend brunch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Find Mexican-inspired dishes like chilaquiles and fried rice with eggs, and baked goods like a roasted poblano biscuit with chile jam. Other nibbles include the crispy pig ears and kimchi pork-belly pozole from the dinner menu. Every dish is under $15, and specialty cocktails, like a cucumber mimosa, run for $10. 145 E. 39th St.


New York Pitmasters to Compete for Title of ‘Brisket King’

Wednesday, February 20
Brisket King of NYC
There’s been a lot of talk about brisket as New York experiences a great boost in barbecue talent. Taste the work of the city’s pitmasters at Santos Party House during the second annual brisket contest. John Stage of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, Daniel Delaney of BrisketTown, Matt Fisher of Fletcher’s, Hugh Mangum of Mighty Quinn’s, and others will compete for the title of “Brisket King.” Tickets are $55 and guests will have two hours of unlimited brisket samples. 96 Lafayette St.


Mac and Booze at The Sackett
The Elbow Room will give away free samples of mac and cheese at Park Slope bar The Sackett (while supplies last). Flavors like “Chicken Tinga” and “Poutine Mac” will be available, and a special drink menu will include $5 Old Fashioneds and $3 bottles of Bud. 661 Sackett St.

Master the Art of Southern Cooking
As part of the Beard on Books series, Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart will celebrate southern cooking and discuss their new cookbook Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking at the James Beard House. Tickets are free for students but $20 is suggested as a donation. Make reservations online. 167 W. 12th St.

Thursday, February 21
The Power of Miso
The Japan Society will host Dr. Lawrence Kushi, who has studied the affects of nutrition on cancer, to discuss the health benefits of miso. Chef Edwin Bellanco of Midtown’s Vitae will demonstrate innovative ways to use the traditional fermented pastes. Everyone will leave the event with free samples and recipes. Tickets are $12, $8 for Japan Society members, seniors, and students. 333 E. 47th St.

Saturday, February 23
Who’s Next at LIC Bar
After Hurricane Sandy LIC Bar in Long Island City was flooded and much of its sound equipment was destroyed. In a heartwarming tale, British rock stars The Who donated amps and microphones to the bar after a customer contacted their management team. To repay the favor, Who’s Next, The Who tribute band, will play a concert at the bar on Saturday. Tickets are $20 and all the proceeds will be donated to Teen Cancer America. 45-58 Vernon Blvd, Long Island City


A Look at New ‘Cue around NYC; Pigs Ears Amidst Chaos at Salvation Taco

Our own Robert Sietsema surveys the latest barbecue offerings from “the East Village to Gowanus,” and finds worthwhile rib-stickers throughout the boroughs. His saucy list of favorites includes Daniel Delany’s BrisketTown, “which obsesses on beef brisket smoked in a trailer located just off Flushing Avenue,” the “barnlike” Mighty Quinn’s in the East Village, and Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue (word to the wise: order the coleslaw).

Also at the Voice, Tejal Rao visits Salvation Taco, the new Mexican restaurant in Midtown’s Pod Hotel. The “tchotchke-fileld” spot from April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman offers “casual drinking food, small plates to keep ordering until you’re full or ready to move on to the next place.” Rao advises bringing friends and ordering a whole lot of tacos. She also notes that the “nonlinear service we were experiencing might work as a model for chaos theory, at least at a TED talk.” But the clamor is not a dealbreaker; rather it’s part of the restaurant’s charm.

NY Times critic Pete Wells drives to Staten Island for Sri Lankan bites at Lakruwana. FYI, it’s “less than 10 minutes from the toll plaza,” and creates an atmosphere that, at times, feels “spectacular.” The restaurant specializes in food you can eat with your hands like “chicken in a chile sauce with a balance of sweetness and spice; sticks of pineapple in a lightly hot curry paste soured with tamarind; chopped kale mixed with coconut… fat yellow lentils stewed in coconut milk with the warming flavors of mustard seeds, curry leaves and cinnamon sticks.” Wells heads back to his borough satisfied, and awards the restaurant one star.

And now for a big one: NY Mag‘s Adam Platt reviews the revamped Eleven Madison Park. The restaurant, which shut down briefly last summer to create an epically exhaustive $195 tasting menu, is still making daily tweaks to its formula. Though Platt sees through many of the “gimmicky” offerings, he deems the dining experience to be one of the most “interesting and unpredictable” in the city. He gives the restaurant four stars.

Time Out‘s Jay Cheshes tries the “new-wave sushi” at Chez Sardine, Gabe Stulman’s Japanese-inspired restaurant in the West Village. Cheshes finds that “the chef’s edgier sushi creations are a more significant departure from the ancient art form he’s messing with,” like braised veal tongue with sweet ponzu. But Stulman “knows how to conjure enough off-kilter electricity to fill seats for this offbeat cuisine,” and the place is worth its weight in uni.

NY Post‘s Steve Cuozzo initially seems to enjoy Sirio, the posh Midtown bistro from Le Cirque owner, Sirio Maccioni, where the atmosphere is “more convivial than clubby, with a mellow vibe that brightens the plush-polished, brown-on-beige surroundings.” But, wait — there is a “baffling black hole” of a menu and simple options go from “no-brainers” to “brainless.”

At the Daily News, Stan Sanger finds little fault with Harold Dieterle’s new West Village restaurant, The Marrow. Sanger writes of the chef, “[his] inspiration is literally home, his menu a playful homage to familial food influences: the right side to his father’s Germanic roots and the left to his mother’s Sicilian heritage. He does both sides equally proud.”

Bloomberg‘s Ryan Sutton thinks he’s getting punked — literally — at The Arlington Club, where the food, service, and freezing dining room temperature are as offensive as the price of the meal. Some of the kitschier menu items appear to be a “haute hat-tip to TGI Friday’s”; it “doesn’t quite work.”

At the New Yorker, Hannah Goldfield thinks Crown Heights’ Mayfield “steps into many of the pitfalls of the modern restaurant,” with a mildly annoying focus on locally sourced everything. But the delicate fish and vegetarian offerings make up for twee accoutrements and the Mayfield (as in, Curtis) is worth a visit.


BBQ NYC: New ‘cue, from the East Village to Gowanus

It was 21 years ago that former London hairdresser Robert Pearson opened Stick to Your Ribs in Long Island City, changing the face of New York barbecue forever. Previously, barbecue here had meant oven-roasted short ribs or pork shoulder coated with gooey red sauce. Restaurateurs claimed clean-air laws prevented them from using real hardwood smoke. Well, by installing a “scrubber” to neutralize the exhaust from his barbecue pit, Pearson proved them wrong. He went on to smoke beef briskets, kielbasas, and pork ribs for eight to 12 hours, Texas-style, with a coating of kosher salt and crushed peppercorns. Sauce—if you felt like you needed it—could be applied afterward.

Gradually, at least a dozen other good or great barbecues followed suit, so that now the city must be accounted one of the country’s ‘cue capitals, up there with Kansas City; Memphis; Lockhart, Texas; Owensboro, Kentucky; and Lexington, North Carolina. And just when we thought we had a solid collection, new pits began popping up. Several have appeared in the past few months, three of them among the best in the city. Counter Culture has reported on Daniel Delaney’s BrisketTown (359 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-701-8909), which obsesses on beef brisket smoked in a trailer located just off Flushing Avenue. Little else is served besides sides, pies, and the occasional pork rib, though Delaney has recently started selling brisket tacos ($4) during daylight hours.

The same fixation on Texas-style brisket is found at Mighty Quinn’s (103 Second Avenue, 212-677-3733), which occupies the former Vandaag space in the East Village and is named after a Bob Dylan song about a charismatic Inuit. If anyone thought you couldn’t open a real barbecue in such a densely populated neighborhood, Quinn’s shows you can. A giant black smoker thrusts into the dining room like an ancient angry god, and you can see the minions of pit master and Houston native Hugh Mangum juggling briskets in the back room. Quinn’s smokes its briskets a whopping 16 to 20 hours, and the fatty meat ($22 per pound) is ceremoniously sliced right in front of you. Meats are finished with a sprinkle of flaky Maldon sea salt—not a bad idea.

The barnlike place also does decent pulled pork, Carolina-style; small, meaty spare ribs with a touch of cumin in the glaze; and beef ribs so big that one easily feeds two people on its morass of blackened meat and jiggly fat. The bone itself will remind you of something Fred tossed to Dino on The Flintstones. The sides? As always with barbecue, who needs ’em? But note that the place serves both mayo- and vinegar-driven coleslaw; each has its advantages in the fat-cutting department. Skip the edamame salad, which belongs at one of the sushi joints up the street. Not only does Mighty Quinn’s sell meats by the pound, it also offers modest single servings of ‘cue in recyclable paper trays at $6.50 to $8.50, with cucumber pickles, pickled peppers, pickled purple onions, and brioche rolls. This is discount barbecue par excellence.

Located near the Gowanus Canal just north of Four & Twenty Blackbirds, in an industrial neighborhood that seems exactly where a great smokehouse ought to be, Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue (433 Third Avenue, Brooklyn, 347-763-2680) is eclectic in its smoky barbecue stylings, a combination it calls Brooklyn Barbecue. The utilitarian space is filled with trestle tables, and wan art lines the walls. The beef brisket is the unfatty half of the cut, so too dry, but the fatty part is coarsely chopped into wonderful and supremely rich burnt ends ($28 per pound). Another selection you can’t live without is chopped pork. It shines in a killer Carolina-style sandwich made on a potato roll ($10). You’ll be asked if you want coleslaw on top as you move past the sides toward the register. The compulsory answer: yes! This classic has never been done so well in the city before.

America’s most ambitious barbecues each enjoy their own quirks, and Fletcher’s is no exception. While many spots avoid poultry due to the rubbery nature of the skin, Fletcher’s embraces it, doing admirable chicken wings (10 for $10). Somehow, flamboyant pit master Matt Fisher has found a way to make the skin taut, if not crisp. Less felicitous is his adaptation of Chinese char siu, the kind of pork found in Chinatown rice shops. It turns out tough, and the accompanying sweet soy sauce doesn’t help. But what the hell—a barbecue without a dud or two is like a great beauty with no birthmark.


Crisp and Chewy Pizza at Juliana’s; Spectacular Japanese Food at Chez Sardine

Tejal Rao visited pizza legend Patsy Grimaldi’s new outpost, Juliana’s, where the pies are made with an old-fashioned touch — cheese first, sauce last. The method allows the “tomato sauce [to] protect the cheese like sunblock,” Rao writes in her review of Juliana’s.” The benefits of such care are clear in the final product, as Rao notes, “the pies are milky white on top, the cheese in thick, Rubenesque proportion, smudged with a clean, bright red sauce and a few wilted basil leaves. The bottoms are brown as if the char were painted on in watercolors, and each bite carries the flavor of the oven without being scarred by it–the crust has a thin shell of crispness, but it’s soft and chewy inside.” Sounds like there’s a new thin crust in town.

Also at The Voice, Robert Sietsema checks in at the latest restaurant in Gabe Stulman’s Little Wisco mini-empire, Chez Sardine, where the name is a nod to “the crowdedness of the room.” While the place is labeled an izakaya, Sietsema writes in his review of Chez Sardine that the theme is “somewhat confused.” However, that’s not much of a concern considering that the restaurant “often diddles spectacularly with Japanese food,” as well as other culinary styles.

At the NY Times, Pete Wells digs the understated elegance of Elizabeth Falker’s pizzas at Krescendo. “Things at [the Boerum Hill restaurant] are not as modest as they initially appear,” and Wells falls hard for a roasted fennel crust. He awards the restaurant two stars.

NY Mag’s Adam Platt visited two new spots this week, Tribeca Canvas and Pig and Khao. Of the former, he finds that much of the menu has “crowd-pleasing qualities” (read: fried), however he also notes that, “at this helter-skelter Morimoto production, this key ingredient is clearly missing.” Pig and Khao, on the other hand, is an “Asian Hipster destination of a much more familiar kind.” Platt recommends the “sausage-laced” mussles and the “Thai-style whole fried fish.”

The chic Chinoiserie is gilded with a Las Vegas touch at Hakkasan, according to the Daily News’ Michael Kaminer. And while meat, fish, and veg “taste topnotch,” the food does not always get top billing at this splashy restaurant. Kaminer says, “it’s hard to shake the sense you’ve entered a splashy theme eatery engineered to pry gelt from giddy gamblers.”

At the NY Post, Steve Cuozzo also dines downtown at Tribeca Canvas, but isn’t the least bit impressed with the celebrity chef-helmed restaurant. Rather than finding “creative Japanese food” Cuozzo feels that, “the menu pays homage to Morimoto’s chutzpah in thinking he can sell anything to downtowners with grown-up dough and 16-year-olds’ tastes.”

On a more postive note, the New Yorker’s Siliva Killingsworth enjoy the “charismatic food” emerging from the kitchen at L’Apicio. She offers the following advice, “Diners looking to bowl a strike should aim straight down the middle column of the menu, which lists pastas and polentas. Salads can miss, but when they hit they redeem the entire category.” Overall, the “hotel lobby” atmosphere shouldn’t deter diners.

Jay Cheshes goes on a brisket binge at Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue and BrisketTown. He finds the “big tent” approach of the first location to be “great for groups,” however “there’s an opposable dud for every triumph on the wide-ranging menu.” At Daniel Delany’s BristketTown, “a few things [are done] really well in the Texas tradition.” He deems the place a “traditionalists barbecue shrine.”


BrisketTown Jumps on the Austin Breakfast-Taco Bandwagon

You can get up early on a Saturday and enjoy this smoked-brisket taco as early 8 a.m.!

When I wrote about Dan Delaney’s new BrisketTown a month ago, I hinted that the place is a kind of laboratory where menu experiments would be ongoing. At the time pies were the subject of experimentation, and now it’s breakfast tacos, an Austin, TX staple that is gradually gaining adherence in New York, via such places as Williamsburg’s Whirlybird.

Another view of the brisket taco ($4)

Well, now BrisketTown is in the Tex-Mex taco business in a big way. From noon till 3 p.m. on weekdays, and weekends from 8 a.m. till 3 p.m., three different tacos are available. First in prominence, of course, is the brisket taco, made from the pit’s signature long-smoked meat, plus scrambled eggs, cilantro, pickled purple onions (that’s the Brooklyn touch), and chile sauce. Unless I’m mistaken, that sauce is Sriracha — just the sort of sneaky ingredient you might find on a breakfast taco in Austin.

Not quite as good, but still well worth eating, the so-called bacon taco is made of pulled pork belly prepared in the smoker. There’s also a vegetarian taco whose principal ingredient is nicely charred brussels sprouts. A nifty idea.

Coffee and a selection of pastries is also available. Tacos come, Austin style, on flour tortillas, but you can also get corn if you request it.

The vegetarian taco ($3.50) at BrisketTown

BrisketTown lies just north of the Williamsburg Bridge on Bedford. See map below.


Unhatched Ducklings at Jeepney; Smoking Up Meat at BrisketTown

Our own Tejal Rao visits the East Village’s Jeepney, the latest venture from the Maharlika family, to try the unhatched duckling eggs at the “modern Filipino gastropub” in her review of Jeepney. She offers some guidelines for enjoying the small bites: “Think of the impossibly pure broth you get when you poach a whole, unroasted bird–don’t think amniotic fluid and don’t look down, because if you examine the tiny, scaly thing inside, folded up like a sleeping dragon, you might lose your nerve when it comes time to spoon up the duckling and put it in your mouth.”

Also at the Voice, Robert Sietsema smokes out the scene at BrisketTown, a Texas-style barbecue joint in Williamsburg. In his review of BrisketTown, he writes that the restaurant is helmed by Daniel Delaney, the hard-to-miss pit master “with horn-rim specs [and] red visor with a volcano of unkempt hair shooting out the top,” and serves as equal parts meat laboratory and designer deli counter.

At the Times, Pete Wells wants to bathe himself in the buttery polenta at the East Village’s L’Apicio. Of the Gabe Thompson and Joe Campanale restaurant, he notes, “the yellow grains are spread in a broad swath on a long wooden dish, the spianatora. At first they feel almost weightless on your tongue, like polenta foam, but gradually they surrender multiple waves of nutty melted Parmigiano-Reggiano.” Though some dishes miss the mark and the space can feel overwhelming, Wells finds the experience an enjoyable one. He gives the restaurant one star.

The Post’s Steve Cuozzo checks-in at John DeLucie’s “damned fine gorgeous new place,” Bill’s Food and Drink in Midtown. The space formerly belonged to Bill’s Gay Nineties, but now houses a revamped version of the famed restaurant. Cuozzo suggests diners bring an appetite and try “the marbled mammoth’s sirloin portion… garnished with herbed horseradish lardo in a pool of thick but allegedly butterfree redwine bordelaise. Confounding expectations, the filet seemed deeper-flavored than the sirloin–proof that any steak can surprise you.”

Bloomberg’s Ryan Sutton praises the New York restaurant scene for its fighting spirit in the last few months and offers his top choices for the 12 best new restaurants of 2012, all of which live below 28th street. Pok Pok, The NoMad, North End Grill, Thirty Acres, Maison Premier, La Vara, Atera, Parm, Perla, Gwynnett Street and Blanca all make the list. The winner’s circle belongs to Empellon Cocina, where Alex Stupak has ” has helped free Mexican cuisine from the stereotypes of rusticity, the shackles of authenticity and the burden of being cheap” and Mission Chinese, a spot that will “inflames your insides while warming your soul.”

The New Yorker’s Leo Carey visits Ootoya, a chain restaurant from Tokyo serving a canonical rendition of Japanese food. Carey says of the experience, “Just as the classic New York diner serves everything from chicken Cordon Bleu to gyros and hamburgers, so Ootoya presents seemingly the whole of Japanese cuisine–yakitori, noodles, sushi, hot pots, and, for that matter, hamburgers. Known as hanbaga in Japan–say it out loud–hamburger is often eaten without the bun, and Ootoya’s version comes in a thick demi-glace sauce.”


Don’t Stop Smoking at BrisketTown

It was a cold autumn evening, around 5:45 p.m., and the stretch of Bedford Avenue just north of the Williamsburg Bridge was calm and nearly pitch black, save for the occasional J or M train whizzing by overhead, ablaze with light. A ragged line of people extended from the door of a place with minimum signage—it seemed anonymous in the darkness. As the minutes wore on, the line grew. At precisely 6 p.m., ghostly arms could be seen flailing out the door, and an excited murmur rose from the crowd, who pocketed their cell phones and became animated as they began inching toward the entrance.

Once inside, the line wound past a liquor-less bar, through what looked like a cattle sluice, and up to a counter, where a guy with horn-rim specs wore a red visor with a volcano of unkempt hair shooting out the top. Using a giant fork, he pulled smoke-blackened briskets out of a warming cabinet, set them down on the cutting board, and sliced fatty and lean brisket with surgical precision. Between carvings, he leaned over to consult with the customers to find out exactly what their meat expectations were, more priest than deli man. Behind him blazed a red neon cow, while the rest of the high-ceilinged room was plunged in deep shadow.

That was the scene early on at BrisketTown, yet another of New York’s Texas-style barbecues, where the amount of hardwood smoke absorbed by the meat is everything, and sauce is an afterthought. It joins Hill Country, Fette Sau, and, to a lesser extent, Mable’s and John Brown Smokehouse in trying to reproduce the precise taste and texture of Lone Star ‘cue, with brisket as its centerpiece. The man slicing the meat is Daniel Delaney, who as recently as a year ago worked in video production. He went to Texas, brought back a smoker capable of doing 200 pounds of meat at once, and fetched back a supply of post oak, too, the wood used in great barbecue towns like Lockhart and Elgin.

At first, Delaney started serving brisket to friends in his apartment, but soon he hatched the idea for Brisketlab, a pop-up feast that occurred 31 times from late spring to late summer at a variety of odd venues. I caught up with him in June at the cemetery behind the historic Dutch Reformed Church in Flatbush, where he doled out meat, coleslaw, and white bread as a band played old-timey music and customers wandered among the graves like gleeful mourners. The long-smoked brisket was splendid, crusted with a blackened spice rub that sealed in moisture, which wept as the meat was sliced. It was every bit as good as you get in Texas.

Inevitably, the successful pop-up yearns for brick and mortar, and Delaney recently moved into his Williamsburg storefront. He has preserved one of his earlier concepts: Brisket can be pre-ordered online, picked up at 6 p.m., and eaten in the overcrowded restaurant or taken away. But it turns out if you wait till 8 p.m. or so, you can just stroll right in and cop some ($25 per pound), along with a shifting roster of sides that can include coleslaw, cabbage stewed with apples, and German potato salad. Sliced onions and sweet pickles accompany the meat, plus a good stack of white bread for wrapping the brisket up with the condiments, Texas-style.

I talked to Delaney, an affable guy whose excitement is infectious, about the challenges of abandoning his nomad status. My first question: Where did he keep the smoker? “We put it in a 40-foot commercial shipping container and parked it on Flushing Avenue,” he said, whipping out his iPhone and showing me pictures of a metal cylinder fitted into a rectangular space. “It’s been really different smoking the briskets in autumn rather than summer. Briskets behave differently at various outdoor temperatures and humidities. A few days ago, we ruined some because they got too dry.”

While most Texas barbecues smoke their brisket eight to 10 hours, Delaney leaves his in for 12 to 16 hours, starting at 7 p.m. the night before, and selling them out the following day—no leftovers. He’s experimenting with pork ribs now, and on the occasions I visited, these were featured as a supplement with the brisket. The ribs ($22 per pound) are meatier than usual and coated with a rudimentary black pepper rub. But they have a touch of sweetness. “Honey and maple syrup,” said Delaney with a wink. “Come back next week, and we’ll be experimenting with pies.”