Blue Smoke, Oct. 14, 2005
116 E 27th St - Bet. Lexington & Park Aves.
I've eaten at or from Blue Smoke about seven times now. Only three times have I sat down to eat at a table.
The first time was about 3 years ago (2002?) with a bunch of friends from around the country (Amir and his wife from Chicago, Mike Carmody who now lives in Asheville, Shawn, Skip and Mark from JC, and some others) who we've met during Phish's reign. I remember having the fry bread and a sampler that included pork sausage (not so good), pulled pork (pretty good) and something else. The most memorable items of that meal was the Anchor Steam Ale, the Mac and Cheese and the fry bread with addictive chipotle butter.
Then in 2004 we returned with friends Mike and Kathy. Sitting next to us in jeans and a white t-shirt was James Carville, sans Mary Matalin, but with his daughter and granddaughter. We ordered the fry bread and Mac and Cheese again and I had the rib sampler this time, trying the salt and pepper, St. Louis spareribs and Memphis style baby back ribs. The Salt and Pepper beef ribs were the clear winner of the trio. The St. Louis spareribs being remarkably lackluster and the babybacks being just okay.
But they worked on their product and I kept giving them a try. We returned with my folks in 2004 where I had the Salt and Pepper Beef ribs. These were very good but overly spiced with full kernals of pepper that just got in the way. A nice smoke ring though made me think that these guys might get it yet. The mac and cheese however, had begun to slip in quality.
And since then, I've taken home a pulled pork sandwich on more than one occasion, most often when Danna's working late or is traveling. Tonight, I grabbed George and Todd "Frank the Tank" and we went across the street (see Vig 27 review) to grab some grub. We ordered some Blue Smoke Ales, which I really like and find goes perfectly with their food, and some pulled pork sandwiches and chicken wings to bring back to the apartment. The pulled pork, I'm happy to report, has gotten much, much better. Even Danna wolfed hers down (she met us back at the house as we were finishing up) fully satisfied. The pickles and coleslaw were also perfect add-ons...but the side order of baked beans lacked any real flavor at all. A true disappointment...especially after such a great sandwich.
Danny Meyer is well known for the service at his restaurants, his longevity in the business and the renewal projects he blesses this city with. I just hope that the inconsistency with items at his restaurants don't become a part of his repetoire. But perhaps that's because we eat at them regularly that we notice them more often.
Photo credit to Time Out New York