Friday, January 27, 2012

Fort Reno BBQ - Simply Good Barbecue

This week, I was lucky to attend a special preview of a new barbecue joint in my brother’s neighborhood of Park Slope.  Enjoying the Slope not only for its charm, I just love trying all the amazing culinary treats it offers.  Excited to attend the restaurant’s preview, open just to the media before its big reveal this week, I invited Dan to join me in this yummy meatfest.

Even though it’s located on a major street near the R train, Fort Reno is a bit hidden from view and you really have to keep your eyes peeled to spot it.  It helps that its street number is prominently displayed on the outside, so definitely look out for that, as it’ll help you find the way.

Once you get inside, you’ll notice just how intimate it is.  There’s a small bar immediately opposite the entrance and some communal seating off to the left.  To the right of the bar is where you can find the food counter where you place your order and pick up your food.  I first didn’t know how I felt about that, but honestly, it’s all part of the casual BBQ fun and fits in quite well.

I just loved the repurposed look of the whole place, including a mirror mosaic wall, mason jar and colander light fixtures, and repurposed wooden tables and benches.  It set the theme for what was a comfortable evening filled with delightful, homey food.


Although the offering was a bit limited, featuring 3 proteins and 5 sides, we managed to try nearly everything - even getting a little bonus of a side, which I'll get into shortly.  We really enjoyed the simple, but thoughtfully prepared food, which left a great impression on us and no doubt a burning desire to come back.

Meats - Dan and I immediately gravitated to the pork ribs and the brisket.  The former was ready from the get go and we devoured it, but the latter wasn't yet finished and we had to wait about an hour and change for it (that's where the extra side dish came in).  Even though we thought it'd be worth the wait, I'm not entirely sure, as it was flavorful but too over salted.

The ribs were delectable though, falling off the bone, finger lickin' good and packed with tons of smoky flavor.  There were about 5 in the small rack we got, and we could've devoured another 5 easily.  Despite the small portion, there was a lot of meat on the bones, which was refreshing.

Sides - This is where Fort Reno really shined, and I can't say that any one side didn't completely satisfy me because it clearly did.  My two big standouts were the fluffy, buttery biscuits you see above and the 3-cheese mac 'n cheese.

Let me first start with the biscuits, which were soft and airy, with the most amazing crunchy crust.  I can confidently say I haven't had a biscuit this spectacular to date - and what was fantastic is that they didn't feel the least bit heavy.

My second clear winner was the 3-cheese mac n' cheese, which was just bodaciously good.  It combined gruyere, cheddar and parmesan with small shell pasta and the creamiest bechamel sauce that went down real smooth.  I loved the crunchy breadcrumb crust on top, and because we both recognized its excellence, we nearly licked the bowl clean.

The other sides of baked beans, collard greens and cole slaw were also tasty, and I especially enjoyed the veggies that cut some of the richness of the other sides I just mentioned.

Drinks - Besides the food, Fort Reno is really great at creating sophisticated specialty drinks that pair really well with all the comforting food.  Dan and I both tasted their fun creations, he going with the Old Fashioned and me with a drink called Bobbito Burns.  I was especially drawn to mine because it combined the smoky flavors of mezcal, tequila and even meat bitters.  Yep, you heard me right...meat bitters.  As I initially raised an eyebrow at that, my doubts were put to rest, as this drink delivered something incredibly sexy and masculine, a perfect pairing with the smoky BBQ.

Service and Cost:

Overall, the service matched the atmosphere at Fort Reno, as it was casual and laid back, but everyone was also well informed about what they were serving.  It seems that the place is run by a group of good friends, and they do a nice job of promoting that camaraderie to their patrons.  Dan and I felt it, and it made us feel happy and relaxed.

Prices are affordable and even though this was a complimentary tasting, I inquired about the price point.  They purposely gave us portions reflective of everyday plates and a serving of a single protein and two sides would've set one back about $15 or slightly less.  Specialty drinks are priced at $7 - $11 and beers are $6.

3 Mmmms

Fort Reno BBQ - 669 Union Street, Brooklyn NY 11215
R Train to Union Street

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