[Pigging by Wilfrid: May 17, 2010]
Summer's here - nearly, anyway - and the time is right for eating long cooked meats (boy).
Okay, Fette Sau, the name trading I suppose on a German beer-hall connotation - sauerkraut and potato salad are among the fixings (die festlegungen?).
The lie of the land here is apparently simple. The fixing done on this spot formerly related to dysfunctional motor vehicles, and so one enters through a forecourt lined with tables and enters what still looks like a garage. More communal tables, a bar at the back with uncomfortable stools fixed to the floor, and a food service counter to your right. A slight inconvenience, especially when not efficiently communicated, is that the bar and food operations are kept separate, and you must pay as well as order separately.
Booze is well-priced. An interesting, if not radical, selection of craft beers is served in various sizes - the pints and quarts in jars rather than glasses, as is now the Brooklyn norm. Five dollars buys a pint of anything, but you can imbibe at a dollar discount if you are thirsty enough to purchase by the gallon. There's an ambitious whisky list too, and flights of three start at a very reasonable $10-$12.
A blackboard indicates the meats available. No pork cheeks, I'm afraid, on this occasion, but pulled shoulder, sausages, and a blackstrap molasses-rubbed ham. Brisket too, and lamb ribs so tiny you could offer them to babies.
Wonderbread may be the southern standard for mopping up the juices, but Fette Sau is loyal to Martin's potato rolls.
Offered no choice of lean when I asked for brisket, the slices served certainly came from the fat end. The texture of the meat was loose, the flavor rich. The house dry-rub is applied, hence the crust; smokiness, I'd say, no more than medium.
The ham started out great - I liked the sweetness. As it cooled, I found as slightly chemical off-taste - not sure why - and I couldn't quite finish the portion. I hesitated to order the pork shoulder: already pulled and sitting in a container, it looked dry. It wasn't. Full of juices, and quite rightly offered without the usual shroud of sweet barbecue sauce. I found a dab of vinegar was all it needed as I piled it into the potato rolls. This is the cut Fette Sau is famous for, and rightly so.
Beans were flavorful, studded with large chunks of pork, and harbored a slow-burning spiciness.
A straightforward way to fill up, and no wonder business is good, but not barbecue to change your life. An asset if you're anchored in Brooklyn, but it would be hard to send anyone here from Manhattan in preference to Hill Country... Except that the price differential really is significant. Most of the meats here check in around $16 a pound. Fat brisket at Hill Country, for example, is priced in the twenties. A twenty dollar note here will let you eat yourself to a greasy standstill.
The website provides information, including a proud list of suppliers (organic, heritage, etc, and why not?)