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Nov 3, 2012 08:04 PM

Fletcher's BBQ

Checked out Fletcher's BBQ which just opened in Gowanus a couple of doors down from Four and Twenty Blackbirds. Finally, some real BBQ hits this part of Brooklyn. Walk into industrial style space and can't miss huge smoker on right. Meat sold a la Fette Sau, by weight and plopped on your unadorned tray. We tried pretty much everything. Highlights were the ribs which taste of nothing but pork and smoke, the special burnt ends- super charred and fatty brisket ( basically BBQ candy) and the smoky beans which I could eat all day. Quality local beers on tap and tasty cider/rye cocktail. Biggest complaint is that tables are a bit too close together requiring you to occasionally get up to let someone by. The food, though, was spot on. I've been repeatedly disappointed by the BBQ outside of W- burg, but have to say that I'm psyched to have a local place where the meat speaks for itself, no gloppy sauce needed.

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  1. I hate having to start off posts with disclaimers, but this one really requires it if anyone is to consider my opinion of Fletchers. So, firstly, I know Matt (the pit master) since he had an office day job and was gearing up for his passion of making BBQ by working various events. Therefore, I got tossed free stuff at "Grillin' on the Bay" (Sheepshead Bay competition every year) & Big Apple BBQ (Matt worked for various out of towners when they came in for this event). Then, I ate at Wildwood when he was there and then at RUB in Manhattan when he was there. Got some comps but paid for the bulk of the food. And my last disclaimer is that I'm not an expert in BBQ. I eat it maybe 2-3 times/year & love it, but cant be counted on to understand too much about what makes it "real" vs. decent disguised with good sauces. But I do understand quality ingredients and I can clearly talk about what tastes good (at least to me). This year's BBQ experiences up to last night at Fletchers were 2 nice meals at Butcher Bar in Astoria (better than I expected) and a visit to Franklin's BBQ when we were in Austin for a couple of days (wow).

    Okay, so 4 of us went to Fletchers last night and had a lot of meat. Lots of brisket, one rib each, one hot link sausage each, burnt ends, char sui pork and some ribs with coriander, cumin and pineapple that werent on the menu and Matt just brought over for us to taste. We also had several sides, including a lot of baked beans, mac & cheese, cole slaw & cold pickles. And beers. Everything was tasty, everything was good, some of it was comp'ed by Matt so I have no idea what the bill would have come to but we probably paid at least 75% of the actual tab so I feel ok writing a review. The beans were outstanding... really. I love burnt ends and these were meaty but fatty and charred nicely... almost perfect. The char sui pork was also sweet and meaty at the same time...nice. The links were really great. I really liked the special ribs that he brought over. I thought that they could have been more aggressive with the spicings (more cumin and coriander) but the flavor of the meat was very nice. I lived in St. Louis during grad school many years ago & (sorry Danny Meyers) St. Louis ribs have never been a favorite of mine. These were a good rendition, meaty, tender and nicely smoked... just not my reason for eating BBQ. Now for the brisket. This is where my lack of technical expertise will fail to do it justice. I really, really liked the brisket here at Fletchers but it was not the fatty, moist brisket that I know that most of my BBQ serious friends seek out when going for BBQ. It was more of the lean, solidly meaty variety with enough smoke to stand up to the meat itself but with barely any fat or juice. Now, I dont mean that this was dry (it wasn't), only that it is not what I know as fatty brisket. I could eat this with a little sauce (they had several around), on a sandwich (which they have available as well) or just alone on a plate. For me, it was a meat entree that lets me rationalize my need for lipitor as perfectly ok. The other sides seemed to be well liked by my wife and other couple, but I only had a taste of the cole slaw and the mac. The pickles were fine. Did I mention how good the beans were? Bottles of Genesee for $3 (12oz) is a very nice touch.

    Since I think the world of Matt, I'd never give a place of his a bad review... I'd just shut up and be silent (very tough for me, as my friends know). The fact that I'm writing this is automatically a sign that it was good. Quite good. Up there with the other places that I'd not hesitate to get my BBQ fix at, but I am not competent nor interested in comparing them to this.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Steve R

      Do you have any idea what brand of smoker he is using, or at least whether its a gas assist vs all wood unit?

      I'm right nearby and will definitely get over there to check on it, but im a little afraid of your description of the brisket, which sounds like overcooked flat.

      Im curious about your distaste for St Louis style ribs. It has been my understanding that this refers to a butchering technique and not any cooking or seasoning style - st louis style ribs are spare ribs that have had the rib tips detached making them less unweildy than an untrimmed rib but still larger and meatier than back ribs. was there somethign about the way the ribs were cooked you didnt/dont like or are you saying you prefer back ribs/untrimmed spare ribs or meats-other-than-ribs?

      1. re: tex.s.toast

        The oven anchoring Fletcher's BBQ seems to be the same one used at RUB (I once knew, but forgot the maker and volume); it is fueled with wood (gas assist possible); which makes sense as the Pit Man apparently put in some time on 23rd Street.

        Re: St. Louis Ribs > I also have always believed it to be butchering technique as you'd described. When I put it to Baron Kirk he confirmed it as we wiped the grease from our chins.

        Being nearby as you say you are, due your duty, bite the bullet and the brisket and hopefully > wipe the grease from your chin and give the dope on the que.


        1. re: tex.s.toast

          tex.s.toast: Apparently you've proven one of my above disclaimers; that is, the one where I pleaded ignorance on aspects of BBQ that you (and probably most others around here) know. Actually, I think you probably just educated me on why I havent liked St Louis Style Ribs... the missing rib tips. I think I also prefer baby backs but I didnt give that much thought either.

          I agree with allenbank. You need to go and then give us (well, me at least) a run down of not only what you liked, but why. Details! Same as I expect from scoopG and Lau when it comes to Chinese food.

          1. re: Steve R

            The big problem with rib tips isnt that they arent good eating (they definitely are: had some very tasty ones friday night at Roberta's) but that they are thicker than the rest of the rib so that cooking them thoroughly requires over-cooking the ribs themselves.

            It seems that RUB (and, presumably Fletchers) uses J & R smokers (Oyler is the name of the line of cookers) from texas. Im not familiar with the ones with the electric assist - I actually didnt know they existed until i looked it up - but they make a great product and are definitely legit.

            1. re: tex.s.toast

              Went Saturday night. Ribs, good. Pork Shoulder, better. Brisket, a little dry and missing that fattiness referenced by Steve R. Would love to see them using the top part of the brisket as well as the bottom. Hot sides are truly outstanding, cold less so. However, the revelation for us was the BBQ sauce - complex, smoky, more than a hint of heat - which more than made up for the relative dryness of the meat. The other plus is that it's a pro operation that handles the customers pretty well. Will return.

              1. re: joshwbklyn

                can you elaborate on the sides more?

                also just bothered to check out the (menu-less?) website which did confirm they are using J &R pits from mesquite, tx. the pics online look good.


                1. re: tex.s.toast

                  we had the beans, which were a mix of kidney and some other bean. The beans themselves were flavorful and nutty and the sauce wasn't too sweet, more savory with little bits of pork. Mac & cheese used corkscrew pasta and the cheese sauce falls on the creamy and smooth side versus gummy & cheesy. The cole slaw wasn't anything to write home about - in a vinegar, rather than mayo base - and not bright enough to stand out.

                  1. re: joshwbklyn

                    The beans and mac n' cheese were both really good, although expensive. I don't mind paying a lot for quality meat, but $5 each for small containers of beans or mac n' cheese is too much! I think next time we'll take out a ton of barbeque, and make some sides at home. P.S. The Whoopie pies are good too, IF you have any room for dessert.

        2. re: Steve R

          Fletcher's brisket is like fancy chewing gum; it tastes good but looses it's flavor by the time you get all that dry meat chewed enough to swallow it. Slathering it in their pretty good sauce helps, but great brisket stands on it's own with a bunch of sauce to get necessary to gt it down.

          1. re: Steve R

            Just finished off some of their great Lamb ribs.

          2. What an exciting new arrival this one is - finally, some serious BBQ in the area! They sold out of ribs early this saturday night but burnt ends (wow), lean brisket and pork shoulder were all outstanding with a perfect crust and well balanced smoky goodness. Sauce is one of a kind, perhaps just slightly fiery for some given the (again very slightly) dry-leaning meats? The space is great and it seems very well run - we were greeted in line by a friendly consultant to help talk us through the options. Another top notch entry in what's becoming a real interesting 3rd Ave corridor, can't wait to see what's next!

            3 Replies
            1. re: zound

              zound, have you tried The Pines yet?

              1. re: zound

                What's next? Well, how about the reported opening of Dinosaur BBQ on Union Street and Third Avenue - IIRC projected sometime early next year?

                Of course, Dinosaur is a whole 'nother animal, but If that isn't "Q" in overdrive on the Third Av. corridor, I don't know what is!

                1. re: Mike R.

                  Wow, hadn't heard that one. I would have been a lot more excited about it before last weekend when I broke in Fletcher's! One of the great things about these 3 new 3rd Avers is they don't overlap with anything else in the area but it's hard to picture too much BBQ being a bad thing...

              2. I had a 3 ave. combo take out of Runner and Stone bread with Fletcher's brisket, trying to reproduce my monthly Flint's and Acme meals. Bought the chicken dark meat as a side. Really close to Flint's, only wish I could time travel. Light prose but highest praise. The Runner and Stone loaf was far, far better.

                2 Replies
                1. re: wewwew

                  Flint's...that would be quite a fantastic, far and strange trip indeed.

                  Was a "must-do" on every West Coast swing to visit my brother back in the '80s.

                  1. re: Mike R.

                    I lived a few blocks from Flints. This is as close as I've found for the brisket. The sauce is less convincing.

                2. The char sui pork I found to be even better after an hours rest at home. Then it soars.