*Editor’s Note: I’m sad to report that this restaurant is not longer open.
The scenario: a random Tuesday, impromptu date night, day-of, no reservations. Sure, you could wrack your brain and come up with a place, but I chose to use ScoutMob to do the work for me. For those, unfamiliar, ScoutMob is a mobile app and newsletter that provides deals at carefully hand-picked venues without having to pay anything upfront. It alleviates the risk of coupon purchasing that is often associated with Groupon and its competitors. After scrolling through the Android app, my girlfriend and I spotted Zak Pelaccio’s Fatty ‘Cue, a place we had already talked about wanting to check out. It’s settled, we walk the four blocks from our apartment over to the restaurant and are seated promptly.
The restaurant has a very rustic, candle-lit barnyard vibe. The entrance doors are wooden and enormous and in fact looks quite similar to barn doors. Towards the front is an attractive, well-stocked bar with a number of guests staying just for drinks. The wait staff is very dressed-down, which is fine except that it can be hard to tell who the staff is. But, that can be forgiven, especially because of the super-attentive and friendly service we received.
The cocktail menu is certainly one of the more interesting ones I’ve come across. Most of the drinks have at least one really unusual ingredient in the recipe. After looking over the cocktail menu, I decide on the Smokin’ Bone, a whiskey based drink made with smoked pineapple, lime, tabasco, and chocolate bitters. It’s smoky, spicy, bright, and balanced. This is definitely one of the better cocktails I’ve ever had.
After checking in on Foursquare I notice they’re running a special. Just by checking in and showing the waiter, we’re offered an amuse bouche. This singular bite of crispy, cured, smoked bacon mixed with cucumber and citrus is a great start to the meal and is a clear foreshadowing of the great things to come.
Once again, in a feeble attempt to eat something healthy, we order salad. Fatty ‘Cue, however, doesn’t make just any old salad. Their Kale ‘Caesar’ Salad takes raw kale that is fairly firm and softens it up by topping it with an unusual creamy dressing. The ‘caesar’ dressing is made with green peppercorn & cincalok, a Malaysian fermented shrimp condiment, giving it a funky Asian flair. The thin-shaved radish is great textural addition as well.
Next up is their Smoked Corn, which is essentially their version of the Mexican dish Elote. The corn cob comes browned and sprinkled with shredded parmesan, sea salt, shredded green and red peppers as well as a pat of something they call ‘spicy peach butter’. This stuff is crazy. I couldn’t help but slather that sweet and spicy topping all over the cob before devouring every last bite. The corncob itself may not be huge, but the flavors are outstanding and all work really well together. I also really appreciate that the corn cob came out already cut in two for easy sharing.
After that the Fermented Pork Riblets arrived. I love the smoky, meaty, funky and bold flavor of the riblets and find the herbal, citrus brightness of the salad to be a great balancing element. It’s a really tasty dish, I just wish there was a higher meat to bone ratio.
Finally, the dish that everyone raves about, the 1/2 Pound ‘Cue Bacon. This is insane. The platter comes with four hot and fluffy bao buns along with the most meaty, rich, smoky, melty, crispy thick-cut pork belly you’ve ever seen. The salsa verde is heavy on the cilantro and quite spicy on its own, but when paired with the bacon and buns it mellows out and cuts the nearly overwhelming bacon-ness back a bit. This dish is a definite top-10-all-time contender for me. It’s straight-up outrageously decadent and incredibly satisfying.
And just to tease you all some more, here’s a shot of the bacon bun perfection fully assembled. You can pick your jaw up off the floor now.
In conclusion, although I find the prices just a touch high, everything is absolutely delicious and worth a bit of a splurge. The place is sexy enough for a date night without any of the stuffiness that some more formal date night spots have. You can trust Zak Pelaccio and his team to churn out mouth-wateringly good barbecue with really interesting twists and great cocktails to boot. And that bacon… it haunts my dreams.
54 Carmine St. New York, NY 10014