Let’s be clear: There’s no secret door or password to this self-proclaimed speakeasy. Operating beneath its sister joint, the recently opened A Summer Day Café, this barbecue-focused spot from the owner of Tiny’s makes itself known with the red glow of a neon sign above its discreet (though advertised) entrance. And you’ll be glad it does, since you’re going to want to make a visit.
After walking down the dark, wood-paneled stairway, I emerged into a space straight from the 1920s—except no flappers. Stools line up on the tile floor in front of the bar, where suspenders-sporting mixologists shake up libations. The retro-steakhouse aesthetic culminates in a red-leather banquette that divides the glossy, dark-wood tables from the eclectic old paintings, photos and needlepoints on the walls. The seating set up allowed for ample privacy—a rare occurrence in Tribeca and a greatly appreciated one, given the carnal mess that was about to take place.
Starting with the bar fare, it was clear that vegetables would be taking a back seat this evening. The chewy and spicy beef jerky alongside tart pickles and crispy potato chips was a pretty flawless snack that will satisfy anyone’s saltiest cravings, offering a spectrum of textures from soft to toothsome to crunchy. Smoked wings, charred on the grill and slicked with an ever-so-light glaze, made for an addictive, elevated take on finger food.
The smoky flavors lingered into the mains: platters of fall-off-the-bone ribs, Wagyu brisket drenched in a tangy barbecue sauce and an unctuous, slow-smoked beef rib. Each piece of meat was expertly cooked, creating a concentrated crust of intense flavor to balance the richness of the tender flesh. While the sides were a bit disappointing—the heavenly bowl of crispy fried potatoes over mustard aioli was a happy exception—I was too focused on my carnivorous indulgences to mind.
The room may scream nostalgia, but the desserts roar it. A sundae dripping with chocolate-toffee sauce provides a wistful callback to a 1950s ice cream parlor, while the Black & Blonde triggers memories of campfire s’mores with its buttery white-chocolate bar perched atop a pile of pitch-black, torched meringue, continuing the motif of charred food. The ending was sweet, and we waddled out of the restaurant in a barbecue-induced haze, discussing when to plan our next visit. This is a smoking habit you won’t be able to quit.