A nice Eastern European man picked us up in a grey Lexus, number 96. He took us to a weird, industrial block in Williamsburg near the water. We stopped at the building with a red rooster painted on the side. The air smelled of smoked meats, pickles, chilis.
Our waiter was especially chatty. He wanted to make sure that we knew that sharing was encouraged (we did,) and that we were planning on ordering some greens (we weren't necessarily, but then we did.) He also told us that Sam Sifton inhales his food and that the smoked crab laksa recipe was off the menu, being tweaked -- the night's only disappointment.
We ordered some cocktails. I had the 'Cue, with rum, smoked pineapple, tabasco, and Pernod. It was intensely spicy, citrusy, and strong. M tried one of the cocktail specials -- a rootbeer sazerac. It was syrupy and tasted of winter spices. I was tempted by the Hitachino bombers (too overpriced) and the Recession Special, which includes a shot of whiskey, a shot of pickle back, and a PBR tallboy.
We started with a bowl of cucumbers, pictured above. They were cut into chunks, and tossed with smoked chili, brown rice vinegar, and sesame seeds. They were like spicy, un-pickled pickles: acidic with vinegar but fully crunchy and refreshing inside. The only problem was that there were too many -- probably two, three whole cucumbers. With these we ordered a plate of the 'Cue Coriander Bacon -- smoked, thick-cut bacon served with delicate toast triangles and a little cup of creamy yellow curry custard. The bacon was perfectly fatty and rich -- best enjoyed, I thought, with another item we ordered off the snack menu: Bowl of Noodles. Sam Sifton described this dish as "the OxyContin of Ramen" -- the noodles sit in a bowl of resting meat juices, chilis, and scallions, which nicely coat the noodles upon tossing. Also, the bowl came with a soup spoon full of house-made Sriracha. This may have been one of the best dishes of the night.
Our large-plate item was the Brandt Farms Beef Brisket, pictured above. The plate came with two cuts of brisket -- one fatty, one lean -- four doughy bao buns for sandwich-making, pickled red onions and cilantro, a little palette of chili jam and aioli, and a cup of bone broth. My technique was this: smear the inside of the bao with the aioli (I wasn't ready to fuck with the chili jam), lay the fatty cuts into the folds, pile on the pickled onions and cilantro, press the bao closed, and dip into the bone broth; eat; repeat; pick at the leaner cuts, which then paled in comparison to their fattier predecessors.
Then we had our pie. We ordered the whole pie menu -- which consisted of only two kinds of pie -- but still. We got a slice of spiced pumpkin pie, and a slice of whipped peanut butter pie with a chocolate top layer and a pretzel-crumb crust. These were First Prize pies -- they were second rate pies, but they were made by a company called First Prize Pies. The spiced pumpkin needed to be spicier and moister, and the whipped peanut butter pie desperately needed more salt. The meal ended on a high note, however, as we received a couple of moistened hand wipes with the check. Thanks Fatty 'Cue! Stay tuned for more Williamsburg Theres in the coming months..