Monday, January 10, 2011

Fatty Cue Review

Brunch is a meal that divides. Some vehemently refuse to partake in it while others embrace the lazy weekend meal. Personally, I think brunch is great —it's another opportunity to eat and try new places. But many places offer uninspired, insipid platters of eggs and toast. I love the greasy spoon breakfast, but when it comes time for a brunch pick, I want the menu that has flare, the twists that make plates original. 

Brunch at Fatty Cue, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was my first New Year's meal. I'd heard good things about the place, focused on barbecue with a Southeast Asian bent. But I wasn't sure if any of that would come through at brunch, a time when some places seem to lose their backbone and turn into toned-down versions of their nighttime selves. But if this visit was any indication, then I'll have nothing to worry about when I return for dinner.

Perhaps the revelers were still asleep — there were few people here. The place was rustic and cozy with low ceilings; the service was very casual, yet attentive. This is just what brunch calls for. (Though they were out of several things, including the curried black eye peas I'd wanted to try.)

The Heritage pork ribs came just two to an order, but the small portion allowed me to dine in typical fashion — ordering an extra plate to share with my dining companions in addition to our individual choices. The long ribs were coated with smoked palm syrup and Indonesian long pepper, a tasty concoction that helped this hit the right combination of savory and sweet. 

The 'Cue bacon, egg and cheese was made up of house-smoked coriander bacon, two fried eggs and smoked cheese on a Kaiser roll. It was those adjectives, united into a seamless combination, that made this more than your average breakfast sandwich.

The coriander bacon made another appearance in the 'Cue BLT, which also sported heirloom tomato, baby lettuce and spicy aioli. And it came with a green market salad with pickled carrots. The spiciness and the flavored bacon elevated this to excellence.

The house-smoked salmon on a sesame bagel was dressed up with whipped ricotta and salted chili and the same green market salad on the side. The chili added a kick that tasted so good it seems like there's no reason that every salmon bagel shouldn't have it. Yet, it was new to us.

The french toast was soft and eggy, the kind you'd make yourself at home, but for the smoked maple syrup and bourbon preserves reminded you why you'd rather eat it in a restaurant like this.

The side of country grits with more of that smoked maple syrup were the right combination of salty and sweet that makes it so you can't stop eating it. My gripe about grits has always been the mushy texture and the blandness. But the maple syrup pooling around the side of the bowl, the grains of salt sprinkled on top and the thick lumps worked together to dispel every bad notion I previously had of grits.

I couldn't resist ordering the flapjacks to share and I'm so glad we did. The tall stack of buttery, fluffy cakes topped with a heap of bacon were fantastic.

Beyond the Chinese dishware, the Asian touches were subtle, but welcome — it's what made me feel like I was eating food I wouldn't find elsewhere. There's reason to come to Fatty Cue.

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