>> 6/1/10

196 Smith Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 643-2106

I was tired. I had just returned from a twenty mile bike ride along the Jamaica Bay section of Gateway National Park and was lying on my sofa. My eyes had wandered across the floor to where my bar was and they were making a fantasy cocktail. I might have gotten myself a real one, but that would have required moving and I wasn't about to get up just yet.

The phone rang. I grunted a hello. It was Bro. His plans for the evening had fallen though and he didn't want his weekend to go to waste. "Let's get drinks," he said. I had plans for the weekend too though. They consisted of napping, chipping away at my seemingly endless Netflix queue, and eating a jar of pickles, in that order. "Only if it's in Brooklyn," I replied as I began thinking of the list of places I had yet to try. Huckleberry Bar, Clover Club, Weather Up... Then it came to me. Char No. 4. Drinks and dinner. Bro agreed to the suggestion. Our man-date was ready. I hung up and took a nap.

Is Char No. 4 a restaurant with a massive whiskey list or a whiskey bar with a menu? It was time to find out. If you like whiskey, then this Cobble Hill Southern-inspired gastropub was well be your version of heaven, with whiskeys from across the globe ranging in price from $3 to $100 per ounce. If you go here with a friend who isn't really into whiskey, they have a large wine list and a decent list of craft beers as well. Worry not, everyone still can have their hair held back at the curb by the end of the night.

As I said earlier, Char No. 4 is a southern-inspired restaurant. It almost begs you to drink bourbon with your meal. Actually, its cocktail list is entirely bourbon-based drinks so it practically requires it. I had the Noreaster, a bourbon, ginger beer, lime and maple syrup concoction which was fantastic, while Bro had the Louisville Sunset, made with bourbon, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, lemon juice and bitters. Also very good, but I liked mine more.

For an appetizer, Bro ordered the Cornflake Crusted Crab Cake with a lemon bay leaf sauce. Very good and about the size of your fist. The sauce was a bit too tangy for my palate, but that can be solved by simply using less of it. The truth is that it didn't need any sauce at all. My appetizer was the House Smoked Thick Cut Bacon which sat on a bed of warm sauteed and spiced mushrooms. It was, simply put, the best bacon I've ever had. Sure, I tend to eat the charred shitty stuff that diners give me and usually I bury it in egg yolk, but man oh man. The bacon was about a half inch thick with just the right level of saltines. Bro felt that it was too fatty, but I disagree. Fat is part of the bacon experience. I don't recommend having it every day, but for every once in a while, this is the fat to have.

For dinner, Bro ordered the Jambalaya with andouille sausage, shrimp and clams, pictured above. This old-school southern dish was insanely good. It looks somewhat small, but it's actually pretty filling in no small part because jambalaya is mostly rice. My dinner was Chopped Pork Sandwich with a side of baked beans and pickled peppers. The sandwich, drenched in the house-made mustard-barbecue sauce was just amazing. The downside was its size. It's small enough that you'll spend more time licking sauce off your fingers than eating. The same with its sides. Tiny. Almost non-existent (and the pickled peppers I could have done without). It's a good thing that I also ordered an extra side of Bacon Jalapeno Cornbread. Aside from adding to the meal, it was excellent.

For dessert, Bro took a pass, but I ordered a coffee and the Key Lime Pie in a graham cracker crust and with a charred marshmallow top. This may well have been the best key lime pie I've had since actually being in the Keys. Good job, Char. Yumyumyum.

Of course, what's the point of crossing the boroughs in the F train to visit a whiskey bar without whiskey? None, I say. Char has flights, one ounce each of an American, Irish and Scotch whiskey, but I decided to go my own route. I ordered an ounce of (ri)1, a new high end Rye by Jim Beam, an ounce of Hudson Corn Whiskey, a moonshine-like clear whiskey with a heavy vanilla undertone, made by Tuthilltown Spirits in midstate New York, an ounce of Suntory Yamikaze 18 year old single malt, a Japanese whiskey that went down smoothly and cleanly, and an ounce of Tullibardine 1993, a 14 year old scotch that rolled around in the peat bogs of the old country plotting for the day when it could give my chest even more hair than it has. My favorite had to be the rye, but my buddy Mr. Dogz would have probably picked the Scotch since that's his thing. Bro preferred the Hudson Valley moonshine.

Two appetizers, two entrees, two cocktails, a diet cola, four ounces of various whiskeys, a coffee and a dessert, tax and tip cost us about $155.

Char No. 4 on Urbanspoon


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