Admission; I’ve never taken one of those great BBQ tours of the American Midwest. That’s not to say I’ve never experienced the unmitigated pleasure of an expertly barked brisket or gnawed on a juicy, fat-striated rib bone in my time. It’s just that I can’t expound on the virtues of vinegar-soused Carolina pulled pork or argue the supremacy of the Memphis, Tennessee dry rub with the same passionate fervor and authority of dedicated ‘cue enthusiasts.
The guys at Fletcher’s have, on the other hand, done due diligence with a meat tour of the U.S before opening their brand new Gowanus establishment, but they’re still hedging their bets. Instead of inviting straight up comparison with beef-happy Texas, saucy Kansas City or rib-centric St. Louis, they’ve labeled their all-encompassing offerings as down home Brooklyn Barbecue. That means, essentially, that you only have to judge them against their nearby, East Coast neighbors, ie: Fette Sau (a mob scene), Mable’s Smokehouse (sauce lovers only), Fort Reno (inconsistent), The Smoke Joint (admittedly non-traditional), and the newly opened Briskettown (no liquor license). Oh, and eventually Dinosaur BBQ, but as a Syracuse University alum unimpressed with the spiritless Harlem branch, we’re not holding our breath.
So I’d say, yeah, this new temple of smoked meat stacks up pretty darn well against its rivals, sourcing its wide array of proteins from farm cooperatives and smoking them over a combo of maple and red oak in a J&R pit from Mesquite, Texas (her name is Joanie).
The brisket is great but the burnt ends—odd-shaped leavings from a cut of lean brisket that, in expert hands, transform into crystallized nuggets of salt, fat, meat, sugar, spice, and general deliciousness—are even better. Pork is key here, appearing as St. Louis-style ribs, intensely spicy, fire engine-red hot links, chopped up for sandwiches (or just general, free-handed grubbing), and most popular, cut into steaks — Honey-Barbecue, Coriander, or Char Siu, marinated in soy, ginger and hoisin, and generally one of the first menu items to sell out.
Even the quartered chicken is uncommonly moist and enjoyable, although if you’re heading out to a BBQ dinner with friends that will only order the stuffed portobello mushrooms, that’s on you. Take a breath, veggies, we’re sure they’re delicious. But sad for you that you can’t try the burnt ends baked beans or mac and cheese-topped chili.
But you didn’t click on this article because you wanted to read a thesis on smoked meat, did you? You came for the sweet, sweet food porn, delivered in the carnivorous form of secret-recipe, dry-rubbed flesh. So right this way my friends. Right this way…