Fork needs to start this off with – oh, YES, Spoon, we will be going back!
It was one of those Saturday nights where you knew you wanted to do something, needed to do something, but you couldn’t even begin to think of what that something should be. Knife called Fork with the same lament, and thus began the battle cry and battle, ‘I am hungry! Let’s go out!’, but where? ’Do you have an idea, Knife?’, ‘Nope. Do you have an idea, Fork?’ ‘FORK NO! Do I ever?’ And then fate stepped in, as Fork got into Knife’s car Fork sat on Time Out New York and as Fork pulled the magazine out from beneath the tines, the magazine fell open to a photo of the Pork Spare Ribs from Fatty ‘Cue, and that was all the encouragement we needed!
Now, the rub (pardon the BBQ reference) – how to get there!? Thank goodness for the GPS. Truth be told, even with the GPS, we weren’t sure we were heading in the right direction. Fatty ‘Cue is tucked in near the base of the Williamsburg Bridge – Brooklyn side – and the front so innocuous that you could easily drive past it. Fatty ‘Cue is the collaboration of Jack Pelaccio (Fatty Crab) and Robbie Richter’s (Hill Country).
The concept of Fatty ‘Cue is simple – high quality meat, cooked low and slow, fused with exotic ingredients like palm syrup, fish sauce, galangal (Siamese ginger), lemongrass, for an Asian fusion BBQ perfection.
Now from the outside, Fatty ’Cue isn’t the easiest restaurant to figure out. It looks like a dive bar, the entrance down a couple of steps. Once inside it feels like a frat party – loud music, deadly cocktails, seriously great staff. The front room has seating for eating, but eating in the bar room requires a lot of screaming to make yourself heard, if you want to have any conversation. Through the bar, down a small hallway, around the kitchen, up some steps, there is another small dining room. There is a door there that leads to the BBQ pit and some outdoor seating. Up more stairs, there are more tables.
Once seated and getting a chance to look at the menu, you realize that Fatty ‘Cue is not for the culinary faint of heart – serious pork and serious HEAT. The tables are very small – especially for a place that plates are meant to be shared. It’s a bit on the pricey side. You are warned by the staff that food comes out of the kitchen in whatever order the chef feels the need to cook and send out.
First to arrive at our soon to be over flowing table was ‘Cue Coriander Bacon. Just when you thought you had enough pork belly (Really? Is that even possible!?), Fatty ‘Cue comes up with an idea to keep you on the belly hook. Pork Belly cut into domino sized pieces – which would be totally fine just on their own. There are, sadly, only about 5 or 6 pieces – MORE please! Next to the bacon are buttery triangles of Pullman bread (which make a few appearances on the menu). As if bacon and toast aren’t enough, there is also a yellow curry custard. The curry custard is almost the consistency of a panna cotta, but with a flavor profile intense with turmeric, cumin, coconut, and other palate tingling ingredients. It’s like a very sophisticated bacon and eggs with toast.
Just as an aside, that squishy white bread is baked by Dragon Land Bakery in Chinatown. Not being a white bread eater myself, it reminds you – almost – of Wonder Bread from your childhood.
And this wonderful toast came to our table again with our next arrival, Dragon Pullman Toast with Master Fat. Sounds like the name of one those cheesey, badly dubbed, Kung Fu movies that used to be on television on Saturday mornings. The thick slices of buttery toast came this time paired with ’Master Fat’. This amazing master fat is rendered from every animal that comes through the kitchen - pork mixed with beef which is mixed with duck which is mixed with lamb and throw in some bacon rendering for good measure. It’s like schmaltz on crack. The only complaint Fork had? It needed a little saltiness.
Our table was quickly filling up! Next arrived Pork Spare Ribs. They are cooked in a smoked fish sauce, palm syrup and Indonesian long pepper. Yes, yes, a strange sounding combination of ingredients. But the smokiness of the fish sauce keeps the palm syrup from being too sweet and the pepper from being too hot. The ribs are fall of the bone tender. The order of ribs is a little strange though. 3 ribs to the order, but you can buy a 4th rib for $5. 3? Really? That number doesn’t work for a table of 2, certainly not for a table of 4. But delicious and sticky and smokey and sweet they are. A definite must try.
The last main dish we ordered was American Wagyu Brisket. Wagyu’s translation is Japanese beef, so this is American Japanese beef brisket from Texas – go figure! This took a couple of plates to bring out, which really started to encroach on the limited space left on our plate laden table. Along with the brisket was chili jam, aioli, cilantro, pickled red onions, a beef au jus and bao. The brisket is served two ways – some slices of leaner brisket from the top half and some of the more marbled and fatty deckel (burnt ends for those who have traveled this way with us before). Fork has to admit the top half was too lean and a bit dry. The bottom half was smokey, fatty, tastey perfection. This was our third do-it-yourself type dish. A bao, a little beef, a little cilantro, onions, chili jam – oh, skip the aioli – and a dip in the au jus. Very nice.
We had ordered a side of a cauliflower dish Knife was dying to try. It never arrived. No explanation was given. And they said they would take it off our check. Oh, how very kind of you.
Fork really wanted to dig a tine into a Fatty Bar, but they were out. Knife is never one for dessert. The waiter explained the only dessert available that night was First Prize Pie‘s S’mores Pie. It sounded too good to pass up. A really thick, buttery, crispy graham cracker crust serves as the slightly salty base for this masterpiece. On top of the crust is a thick layer of Callebaut milk chocolate ganache. Can it get better? Oh, yes it can. On top of this is a layer of handmade marshmallow fluff – toasted! All the fun of a s’mores without the ants. And to make it slighty more decadent, they pour cream on top. Fork could have done without the cream, but he seemed to be pouring before I answered yes or no!
And while the plates and tables are small, and the portion size smaller, the cocktails are fantastic and give a mighty punch! Knife had a Preamble – a mixture of rye, green chartreuse (can there really be a different type of chartreuse? Isn’t that redundant?), cherry herring, lemon and maraschino. Fork imbibed a Foreplay Cocktail – aperol, yuzu, prosecco, mezcal and smoked grapefruit juice. WOWZER!
On Sundays a whole pig goes in the smoker. It’s then sold off in mixed parts, with a pineapple curry, Thai basil and bao. It is sold on Sunday and into Monday until it is all gone. This is a definite must try next trip!