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WhiteTrash BBQ -- Real Pit Barbecue from New York City. This is the story of a fire obsessed guy, living in Brooklyn, with a dream of producing award winning, competition busting, real Barbeque. Come live the dream as I compete around the country in the KCBS Championship Barbecue circuit.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Restaurant Review: Fette Sau

Fette Sau
354 Metropolitan Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
718) 963-3404

I wasn't planning a trip to Fette Sau tonight, but a visit to a client's home in Williamsburgh made the opportunity too good to pass up.

Fette Sau on Urbanspoon

I've heard great things about Fette Sau. My buddy Gary over at Pig Trip summed up his visit this way "Fette Sau has a lot going for it: good to very good barbecue meats with a killer rub, a rotating menu, a great bar atmosphere and a comfortable place to hang."

But I've also heard some not so great things about Fette Sau. Menupages and the New York Magazine gave the place good to great reviews, but the Times (that's the NY Times in case you are confused) and Gawker both trashed it.

I wasn't planning a trip to a bbq joint but I like to check out places for myself, so like I said this was too good an opportunity to pass up. I wish I had.

We arrived to an almost empty restaurant at around 6:30pm. I expected that as most of Fette Sau's tables are outside and it was one of the coldest days in NYC this winter.

We ordered some pulled pork($16/lb), spicy sausage($2.75 link), flank steak ($22/lb), and beans with burnt ends ($5 small). Since my client is vegetarian on hiatus, we also got a side of "Cora's Broccoli Salad" ($3.50 small). It all came with three different barbecue sauces, one worse than the other, and some outstanding potato rolls.

I asked about the smoker (Southern Pride) and the woods being used. The meat cutter told me that they use "a mix of cherry, oak and pine." Pine? I asked specifically about the pine telling him that I've been told since I was a kid in the scouts that pine wasn't good to cook over. He laughed and said, "yeah - but it's cheap." (I think he was just a joshin' me. I HOPE he was just joshin!)

I then asked if they used different woods for different meats and his first answer was no, but then he recanted stating that they might use different wood for the beef than the pork because they cook them separately. Then he added, he really couldn't tell one type of dry wood from another and they all wind up in the same pile.

Apparently all the meat cutter does is cut and wrap meats, because he called over to the cashier for the broccoli salad. She continued to talk with another woman about her latest date and some other guy who was something which I can't repeat on a family blog while I stood there and waited. Once their conversation was over, I guess about 10 minutes later, she bagged the broccoli and proceeded to ring up my order.

The sausage was easily the best offering, nicely cooked and juicy; but it offered so little spice it was mainly consumed by my client's 3 year old daughter. The flank steak was tender but dry and bland even though I could taste a little cinnamon in the bark.

The pulled pork had a very dark bark, but it was dry and tasteless and pink inside. I couldn't figure this out. Usually pink in pork signifies a smoke ring, but this was in a large chunk of gray meat that showed no indication that it was anywhere near the edge or bone of the butt.

My big question on all the meats - where was the smoke?

The beans were pretty tasty and totally devoid of meat, but the bay leaf was a very nice touch. Bay leaf is one of my favorite spices and I welcome its addition to most recipes. The beans had a very nice spicy finish, but they can't hold a candle to the beans at any of the top bbq joints in New York.

What can I say about the broccoli? Well, first off, I don't eat broccoli so I must rely on others for their opinion. My client looked at it and asked if it was cooked three days ago. I wish I had my camera with me, but my Lord, this stuff looked like it was cooked for three days. Pale, gray-ish and limp. My client tasted it and spit it out. She then said it was "disgusting."

Disgusting is more than a bit harsh, but I wouldn't put this place on my list of bbq joints for NYC. Maybe it was a bad night; but damn, it's rare when I don't find at least one meat I like.

So to steal an ending from my buddy Gary: Fette Sau is a bar that serves bad barbecue with lousy service. Go for the booze but eat somewhere else first.

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At 2:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On my visit, the pork and the sausage (a glorified hotdog) were the two weakest items. You might have had better luck with the ribs and pork belly, which our table (all competition cooks and judges) enjoyed.

My review wasn't as glowing as you seem to indicate, but it's not a matter of whose review is right or wrong. It's simply another example of how inconsistent BBQ joints can be. On my visit Fette Sau was packed and the food was fairly fresh just after opening. On a slow night, or perhaps a slow week in your case, the food was completely different and that shouldn't be. I was frustrated by slow service, but there's no excuse for the rude service you endured.

At 4:18 PM, Blogger Chris said...

What's wrong with using pine to smoke? I don't use it all the time....only when I can't find any old railroad ties to smoke :)

This brings a thought to mind....does using pine void the Southern Pride warranty? I would hope so!

At 12:59 PM, Blogger 3rd Degree Berns said...

I visited Fette Sau a few months past and actually loved their barbecue. I went with a group of four and all of us loved the beef boneless rib, the pork belly, spare and baby back ribs, as well as the pulled pork. There was definitely a strong smoky flavor throughout all the meats which surprises me that you had quite the opposite experience. Ive enclosed the link to my post highlighting my experience to see if your food looked similar to what we ate.


In any case, I'd strongly recommend a second visit to try the items that we loved.


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