Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Blue Smoke (5/10) - 116 East 27th St, New York, NY 10016

Su-M: 11:30a-10p
Tu-Th: 11:30a-11p
F-Sa: 11:30a-1a
(p) 212.447.7733
Menu (pdf)

While on my latest escapade to New York, some friends and I made reservations at Blue Smoke -- a relatively upscale barbecue joint in Gramercy that literally stands above a renowned jazz club, the Jazz Standard.  I never made my downstairs, but I still liked the vibe of the  restaurant -- basically, provide all the elements for our customers to ensure there's at least something for everybody approach.  Blue Smoke tries to include the best aspect of the barbecue from each region of the country (Texas, Memphis, Kansas City, Carolinas, etc) to accommodate its customers' needs.

We were seated above the main dinging room on the restaurant's second story balcony and we ordered some drinks from Blue Smoke's extensive and eclectic drink menu.  While waiting for my beer, I sampled the sauces and was very pleased by the variety of the two.  They both reminded me of my trip through Kansas City: fairly thick tomato-based sweet sauce with a hint of liquid smoke (makes me think KC Masterpiece) but a decent amount of spice that kicks in at the end.  Our first order: pork belly on toast, or what Blue Smoke likes to refer to as PBJs.  The plating of the dish was a nice touch comparative to more traditional barbecue joints I've frequented.  I thought the belly was smoked nicely, and there was a good concentration of fat that matched well with the crushed peanuts and light dressing prepared with the dish.  It resembled a PBJ, but with thick cut of bacon fat to get a customer like myself excited.  I assume the greens were just for decoration, cause I saved up all my room for the barbecue to follow.

For entrees, I settled on the Rhapsody in Cue: baby back ribs, pulled pork, smoked chicken and sausage so I could sample as many of Blue Smoke's smoked meats as possible in the most cost advantageous way ($24 is pricey).  My friends (or couple, or married couple, or lovers?) decided to split a rack of Memphis Baby Backs which we hoped would provide enough food for the three of us.  While I waited and the alcohol started to ease in, I decided to experiment once more with the barbecue sauces.  Instead of the master cleanse, I wish somebody somewhere would finally invent a barbecue sauce cleanse.  Maybe I'm looking for the easy way out since I've started, quit, restarted, and quit p90x more times than  I care to count.  That workout system works for 99.99% of its customers. Not 3rd Degree Berns.

There she is.  Good Old Rhapsody in Cue to the left.  The chicken was smoked very well, even though I would have preferred the option so I could have only sampled the dark meat.  The pulled pork had the best flavor of the plate.  I really enjoyed the the few dry strands that I was able to separate from the already sauced mound of pork.  The sausage was the least memorable item on the plate while the ribs unfortunately tasted as though they had been glazed throughout the smoking process.  I would have preferred ribs that had a dark and thick adhesive bark attached to the meat.

The heavy glazing application was even more evident on my friends' order of baby backs.  The meat had spent a long time in Blue Smoke's pit, and subsequently, the fat had been well rendered which made made the meat moist and juicy and easily able to pull off the blade with a slight tug.  A slight application of Blue Smoke's Magic Dust took each bite up a notch, and I regretted not taking that action sooner.

Blue Smoke also prides itself on its extensive list of sides so we were hoping jalapeno corn bread, mac & cheese and collared greens would nicely complement our meal.  The collared greens were fairly tasty (slightly sour) while the mac & cheese started off incredible in my opinion.  Ultimately the thick cheese base resembled Velveeta as the plate cooled, quickly diminishing my affection towards the dish.  The jalapeƱo cornbread appeared to win-out as our highest approved side dish.

When considering eating out in New York, I found it difficult to get excited by this meal that was priced at such lofty levels, especially since I didn't believe the quality of meat mirrored that cost.  Don't get me wrong. The food and presentation was strong, it was just significantly overpriced for comparable options, even in the city.  There are alternatives inside/outside the city for barbecue (especially if one doesn't have established plans to attend a live jazz session immediately afterwards), so I'd suggest Dinosaur BBQ or Fette Sau: both are more affordable although they're more difficult to reach from Midtown -- but the big kicker is that their food is both a lot better while the atmosphere are more relaxed settings for barbecue consumption.

Bernstein + Isenhour reunions are typically the best, evident by our campaign flyers (enclosed) when were both graduate students at Texas (UT).  Our classmates fortunately knew better than to vote for us in the 2005 elections.  Despite a short stay in Texas, our alliances still remain with the SEC (although Isenhour loves the Pony's at SMU) and we'd never care about anything in the Big XII outside an enjoyable Bob Stoops big game loss.

Blue Smoke on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Ratings and Reviews

In order to provide a consistent grading standard across each restaurant/region, I order a barbecue pork sandwich (and other meats/sides if a restaurant/region specializes in another specialty). In addition to comparing the quality of food, I will also take into consideration other intangibles (ambiance, atmosphere, service, authenticity, etc.) in my ratings as I deem appropriate.

Basically, a 10/10 represents an incredible meal, while a 6/10 score indicates a decent dining experience but a substantial number of dishes fell short of great. Lower scores indicate unpleasant experiences which I would most likely not even recommend to my worst enemy (Jonas Singer).

I reserve the right to continuously edit/update previous posts and to change rating scores as I see fit.