91 South Sixth Street, near Berry Street, Williamsburg, (718) 599-3090
Getting There: J,M,Z Marcy Avenue
Restaurant Review: Fatty 'Cue
From the barnyard red entrance doors to the small, tight bar, Fatty ‘Cue doesn’t look like much. Just a block away from Peter Luger’s, yet on a more remote tucked in street, the happening little eatery sits there- virtually nondescript, like a hole in the wall. Fortunately for us however, the reviews of this place have built its moderately diminutive stature into a massively superb neighborhood gem; one of must-try proportions. And based on the pure sweet and smoky barbecue smell from just one step inside, boy were we glad they did.
There is literally nothing fancy about Fatty ‘Cue. The servers, bartenders, and hosts, perhaps mirroring the casual, hipster neighborhood, are all dressed down and are conversational, like you’re being taken care of by one of your pals. There is an excitement and an energy inside- partially because the restaurant is a relative newcomer, and partially because its reputation has surely preceded itself. But a simple glimpse at the menu beforehand reveals that you simply aren’t dining at just another barbecue joint. The chefs and kitchen staff have gone that extra mile to ensure a dining experience like none other, with the inventiveness that insists you tell your friends to try it out themselves.
After a quick stop off at the bar with a round of draught beers and an eye-opening round of Pickleback shots (a shot of Wild Turkey whiskey, followed by the ‘Cue’s house made pickle juice), we danced the balance beam between tables before we sat at ours- all the way in the back of the house, with a view of a brick wall. While that sounds like an eye-sore, it is what it is- a mere circumstance of trying to fit as many tables as possible, comfortably inside. Some might find it vexing, but we enjoyed its kitschy barbecue charm.
If the marriage of whiskey and pickle juice seems like an odd pairing, wait until you get a glance at the menu. Before trekking it out to Fatty ‘Cue, you will definitely need to be prepared to experiment with new foods. Starter items like the “dragon pullman toast” ($4) sound innocent, until we were handed a plate of three pieces of fluffy toast, served with a small bowl of liquefied fat. The savory grease drizzled down each side of the scrumptious bread triangles as every last drop of the thick liquid was devoured. Similarly delicious, the “cue coriander bacon” ($14) was a plate of thickly chopped chunks of salty bacon, served alongside some more crunchy toast and a side of steamed yellow curry custard for ample dipping. Both items are highly suggested openers for any meal at Fatty ‘Cue. The “heritage pork ribs” ($12) smothered in smoked, sticky fish-palm syrup, also proved a worthy if somewhat lesser starter dish.
Some of the standout specialty dishes included the delectable “hand pulled lamb shoulder” ($19), tender, succulent pieces of lamb meat, served with cooked pita triangles and a side of goat yogurt with garlic and topped with a Vietnamese mint garnish, and the “Brandt Ranch beef brisket” ($23), an absolutely fantastic “make your own banh-mi” style plate, delivered with four of the fluffiest white bao buns you’ve ever tried, along with a chili jam, pickled red onion, and a bone broth. The tender pieces of beef were unbelievably flavorful, as the two dishes vied for the entrée of the night. The “Fazio Farm red curry half duck” ($35) truly divided our table of eaters, depending upon which piece you grabbed. While some remarked that the cuts were “too fatty” (yes, even for duck), I found it to be out of this world. Topped with a smoked red curry sauce, and served over a bed of white rice, the dish turned out to be my favorite of the entire meal, even though it was a topic of disruption to the rest. Luck of the draw, I guess.
It says something about a restaurant when the worst thing you can say about a meal is that one of the dishes was a “worthy” item. Literally every course that was presented to us was distinctive and delicious. More and more restaurants seem to be fusing American barbecue specialties with Asian sensibility, and they need to look no further than Fatty ‘Cue as the standard bearer for all they should strive to become. There is now another extraordinary meat palace in Williamsburg.