Char No. 4
Mon Oct 27 2008
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
Walking into one of Manhattan’s cavernous ’cue houses like Hill Country or Blue Smoke can be an olfactory orgy of meat and smoldering wood. But when the same scent is trapped inside a narrow dining space, the effect is more overwhelming than enticing. Such is the case at Char No. 4, the Smith Street newcomer from co-owners Michael Tsoumpas and Sean Josephs. Happily, however, plenty of what comes from the smoker, courtesy of chef Matt Greco (A Voce), is worth suffocating for. Lamb pastrami—as pink and peppery as a Jewish deli’s—arrived in delicate folds, dotted with spicy coriander and mustard seeds. Fried cheese curds surpassed their junky mozzarella-stick cousins with their delicate panko crust and squeaky, elastic interior. Greco’s own sage-flecked pork sausage, stuffed and smoked to beautiful effect, was served browned and snappy over Swiss chard, with sautéed prunes complementing the greens’ bitterness. The edible triumphs notwithstanding, Char’s most impressive draw may be its dizzying collection of brown liquors—ryes, Scotches, mash-bill and wheated bourbons, Irish and Canadian distillates, and a whole section devoted to Japanese whiskies. Look to the able bartender for a hand in navigating the 300 varieties. Bourbon even finds its way onto the dessert menu—lush butter pecan ice cream stank of the stuff, giving it a smoky, if overpoweringly alcoholic, kick. That stumble aside, Tsoumpas and Josephs have brought some much needed new blood to Brooklyn’s often-tiresome restaurant row. It’s a place worth exploring—even if you leave smelling like a bonfire.