Monday, April 5, 2010

Living up to the name

On the advice of one of my loyal readers, I'm going to stay away from politics for the next week and stick to food and movie stuff.

First up, hot-shit chef, Zak Pelaccio, (of 5 Ninth and Fatty Crab fame) has opened his new restaurant in South Williamsburg, Fatty 'Cue, after a two year long wait.

The idea behind the restaurant is that the food is barbecue -- but with a Malaysian twist. (I believe Pelaccio spent some time in Asia studying cooking.) It's not quite as heavy as your standard BBQ fare -- but it's not quite Malaysian, either. (Yet it's certainly fattening enough to live up to the name.)

I'm usually a little wary of these sorts of hybrids; when you order a piece of brisket, you'd hope that a chef would have sense enough to not mess with one of the good lord's most perfect chunks of beef. And while I concede that barbecue brisket can reduce a grown man to sobs of regret when his plate is empty ("How could I?! How could I?!") -- the sobs are mixed with those of joy. The unadorned barbecue brisket, with all its richness and meatiness, beats the hell out of whatever newfangled sauce some smartass chef can smear alongside.

So it was a great relief to find that whatever Malaysian flourishes Pelaccio has given his food is subtle enough so that you barely notice it.

The Wagyu brisket is well marbled and comes with chili jam and three warm little buns, so that you can make a little brisket sandwich for yourself. (Like you would make if you were eating Peking Duck.)

It was, quite simply, delicious. (I have a special weakness for those little Peking duck sandwiches, so I might not be the best person to trust on this.)

The other meat heavy dish that my friend and I sampled were lamb ribs, which came with a white dipping sauce made out of white wine brine, garlic and lemon emulsion and cincalok (don't feel bad for not knowing that one. I had to look it up, too.) The sauce had a yogurt-like texture, and the dish tasted almost more Indian than Malaysian.

My only real quibble with it is that the lamb ribs were at least 50 percent fat. Maybe that's just the way they are, but I had to leave more than half of my ribs uneaten.

But, what I did taste was very, very good.

However, Fatty 'Cue is not entirely meat.

My dining companion and I tried an extremely respectable bowl of noodles with scallions and chili. And we also had a seafood sausage -- a white colored tube of shellfish, packed with ground up shrimp and scallop, and resting in a puddle of green curry.

It might have been better than the brisket. (I licked my plate.)

Moreover, the menu has some excellent drinks: The housemade beer is as good as any ale on the market, and if you can get past the horrible name, the "Forplay Cock Tail", which consists of aperol, yuzu, prosecco, mezcal and smoked grapefruit is extremely delicious. (But at $10 a pop, it goddamn better be!)

And this brings us to my only real quibble with the restaurant: It ain't cheap.

The menu looks reasonably priced, but all the dishes are small. Two dishes really aren't enough to satisfy a normal person. And the drinks are outrageously expensive. By the end of the evening, our bill had come to $80, not including tip -- which is a hell of a lot for barbecue for two.

Which makes me sort of glad that Fatty 'Cue is in a little corner of South Williamsburg, with only the J/M/Z line nearby. Otherwise, I'm sure a weak-willed man such as myself would go there every night -- and wind up broke and fat. But probably happy.