Fatty ’Cue Lards It Over Brooklyn With Fried Refuse, Bourbon
Scales, mirrors and burst seams confirm that I’ve gained 13 pounds. Partly to blame is a Brooklyn restaurant called Fatty ‘Cue.
Five bucks gets you a ramekin of rendered fat collected from the duck, chicken, pig, beef and lamb cooked here. You dip crazy-soft Pullman toast into the smoky, oily pool.
Nine bucks get you noodles with assorted “meat juices.” The firm strands sit atop a broth brewed from salvaged protein runoff. Delicious.
Six bucks gets you shoofly pie. A server pours cream over the molasses treat.
You wash it all down with a $12 late-night special called the “Stimulus Package”: Japanese beer and two shots of Four Roses bourbon.
The affordable Fatty ‘Cue threatens to undermine the skinny-jean industry in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg ‘hood. The cholesterol-filled brainchild of Zak Pelaccio stands just down the block from the heart-clogging Peter Luger (see below).
Pelaccio is the guy behind Manhattan’s Fatty Crab (in the Meatpacking District and on the Upper West Side). That’s where Malay flavors are mixed with U.S. collegiate sensibilities. Sambal-spiked sliders, anyone? The same Southeast Asian tinge is applied at Fatty ‘Cue, except to low-and-slow oak-fired barbecue (courtesy of Robbie Richter, Hill Country’s old pit master).
So pork ribs get a dose of smoked fish and palm syrup.
The outside seating isn’t a garden. It’s a driveway -- very urban al fresco, with a view of an industrial slab of the Williamsburg Bridge. A vending machine next door dispenses bicycle parts.
Descend into the restaurant. Bar patrons drink Pabst Blue Ribbon, which is what Brooklynites imbibe when they want something as bad as Miller Lite. Better is the shot of Mekhong rum. Chase the sweet burn with puckering pineapple pickleback. Thai beer completes the package.
Low ceilings -- you can touch them with your hand -- mean the rock-and-roll soundtrack amplifies itself. Cramped tables for two are converted into tables for three. Food comes out “randomly,” says a waiter. He’s right. Filling starches and larger dishes can precede smaller plates. And the level of lipids can overwhelm even the stomachs of professional eaters.
Coriander bacon appears. It glistens. But the streaks of white fat don’t melt in your mouth. It’s blubbery, under- rendered lard. Same goes for the duck. Pulled lamb shoulder achieves the right degree of silkiness in the fat; yet the meat is dry.
Smoked brisket, at its best, has an accordion-style marbling that makes it seem to fall apart without actually falling part. But the arid slices here do their best impression of overcooked steak. A smoked chicken was perfectly medium rare, an accidental, avant-garde poultry sashimi on the bone.
Let us give thanks to the cocktail experts, whose sour, spicy libations help quell fat-based nausea. Try the Chupacabra: hard to pronounce, easy to drink. Watermelon and lime counter the vegetal bite of tequila with flowery, tropical perfumes. Then a namesake ‘Cue numbs you into a boozy bliss with over- proof rum, smoked pineapple, Tabasco.
The potables are mid-meal digestifs, allowing one to engage in more gluttony -- like the whole pig -- available only on Sundays. Bites of shoulder, leg, belly and ribs balance savory flesh with soft, invisible fat. Pile the meat into soft bao buns. Top with pineapple curry. Repeat.
You smile at the whole smoked mackerel. You think you’ve finished. You thought it was healthy. Then a waiter takes the bony carcass and fries the refuse. The flesh becomes firmer; the bones brittle and tasty. Dip it all in an eye-opening mix of chili and fermented shrimp paste. Finish off with a bowl of smoked bone broth and call it a night.
Walk outside and stand 100 feet in front of Peter Luger. That’s how I stole cabs from suit-and-tie steak eaters waiting for a ride back to Manhattan. I should’ve walked it off.
The Bloomberg Questions
Cost? Almost everything’s under $20.
Sound level? About 75-80 decibels.
Date place? Yes.
Inside tip? Clams sit in a bacon-yuzu-curry-chili broth. The soup begs to be mopped up with the accompanying toast.
Special feature? Chili chocolate bars for dessert.
Will I be back? More often to Fatty Crab in Manhattan.
Fatty ‘Cue is at 91 South Sixth St, between Bedford and Berry. Information: +1-718-599-3090 or http://www.fattycue.com
What the Stars Mean: **** Incomparable food, service, ambience. *** First-class of its kind. ** Good, reliable. * Fair. No stars Poor.
Sound-Level Chart (in decibels):
51 to 55: Church on a weekday. 56 to 60: The vegetable aisle at the Food Emporium. 61 to 65: Keyboards clacking at the office. 66 to 70: My alarm clock when it goes off inches from my ear. 71 to 75: Corner deli at lunchtime. 76 to 80: Back of a taxi with advertisements at full volume. 81 to 85: Loud, crowded subway with announcements.
(Ryan Sutton writes about New York City restaurants for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
To contact the writer of this column: Ryan Sutton in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org.