Restaurant Review - Blue Smoke
116 East 27th Street
New York, NY
Yesterday, my daughter and I paid a visit to Blue Smoke for a late lunch. Readers of the blog will remember Blue Smoke from the NYC BBQ Block Party back in June. Danny Meyer, who owns Blue Smoke, sets it up every year. It was a great time and I can't wait to do it again.
You enter Blue Smoke through a non-descript little lobby where you are hit with a strong smell of hickory wood smoke. Blue Smoke is to the left and straight ahead is the entrance to Jazz Standard, a jazz club. Jazz Standard was chosen as the best Jazz Club by New York Magazine in 2003.
Entering the restaurant, it's obvious you're in NY. Unlike places like Pearson's, Virgil's, Tennessee Mountain, Dinosaur, and all the other BBQ places in NYC, Blue Smoke doesn't try to create a southern/BBQ joint/down home atmosphere. It doesn't scream chain restaurant.
At Blue Smoke, you're in NYC. The restaurant is big, open, airy and well designed. There's a huge bar, a sky lighted extension and a small mezzanine. The only clue that you're in a BBQ restaurant, this is not a BBQ joint, is the stack of wood near the kitchen door.
We were immediately greeted by a very friendly hostess who showed us to a table by the front windows. After a very short wait, another friendly waitress came by to take our order. Everyone here is very friendly and smile constantly. My daughter ordered the pulled pork sandwich ($10.50) and I had the sliced Texas-style beef brisket sandwich ($11.95). Both came with pickles and coleslaw. We also ordered a side of hush puppies with jalapeno marmalade ($4.95).
In a couple of minutes, a busboy appeared with plate of french fries ($3.95) for our table. At first I thought that they were included with the meal, but just to be sure, I said "We didn't order fries." The busboy looked confused and took them away. After about 10 minutes our sandwiches came, along with an apology from the waitress about the fry mix-up. After another 5 minutes or so, the hush puppies were delivered. I've never owned a restaurant, but I would have told the busboy to leave the fries at the table.
The sandwiches were served on large oval platters with the coleslaw and pickles on the side. I don't know if it was an optical illusion due to the large plates, but the sandwiches were small! They didn't appear to be stuffed very high either. The meat was served on a good white bread buns that had a light egg wash on the surface.
The pulled pork was excellent. It was soft and moist with a nice mix of bark and deep meat. It was moist and had just the right amount of chewy-ness. The brisket was nicely cooked, tender and flavorful, but a little dry. Its flavorings were closer to a NY style pastrami than to traditional Texas BBQ, but it was good. I didn't get the pastrami flavorings when I started the sandwich, but by the end of it, I could have sworn I was eating pastrami.
The coleslaw was excellent. A mix of green and red cabbage with some carrots mixed in. It was made with a vinegar dressing which suited the pulled pork sandwich much better than it did the brisket. If it was up to me, I would serve something else with the brisket.
When the check came, it included a survey card looking for feedback about the restaurant. Nice touch. I don't think I've ever seen this in a non-chain restaurant before.
We left the restaurant fully stuffed, satisfied and wanting to go back. My daughter has proclaimed Blue Smoke her favorite NY BBQ restaurant, Rudy's in Austin is still her favorite BBQ place overall. Blue Smoke is now my favorite NYC BBQ restaurant as well. I'm looking forward to returning.