1 at Houston St.
Small plates, $10 to $16; large plates, $23 to $40.
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
This venue is closed.
Fatty ’Cue Manhattan is Zak Pelaccio’s glitzy reimagining of his great Asian-accented Brooklyn barbecue joint, Fatty ’Cue. This second location occupies a prime piece of storefront West Village real estate. The façade is sheathed in painted brown wood, the windows are covered with stylish blinds, and like that of a downtown nightclub, the heavy door is affixed with a silver handle molded from a real pig’s foot. The dark interior is lit like a nightclub, too, and features a black-tiled bar and rows of padded green leather banquettes. There is no pleasingly authentic, spark-belching smoker in the backyard (the meat is smoked at the Williamsburg restaurant), and the walls are set with glowing displays of “table service” liquor bottles.
The menu is less profuse and Rabelaisian than the one in Williamsburg and seems to have been designed with a slightly more discerning palate in mind. You can get fresh oysters for $18 per half dozen, and little spoonfuls of caviar-topped corn salad that taste very nice but aren’t quite worthy of their $14 sticker price. There is also a variety of delicate new vegetable-centric appetizers available, including a medley of shaved raw vegetables (with a crème-frâiche-and-roasted-garlic dip), and a healthful kale salad tossed with a creamy peppercorn dressing spiked with the spicy, faintly fishy Malaysian garnish cincalok. Pelaccio spent some of his formative cooking (and eating) years in Malaysia and his most inspired creations tend to have a similar tangy, spicy-sweet Southeast Asian kick to them. The great chile-and-ginger-infused dish “bacon and clams” isn’t unlike the one in Brooklyn (although it costs $2 more), but the Manhattan version of Fatty ’Cue’s signature ’Cue Coriander Bacon is cut like pork belly, in soft, lacquered squares, and brought to the table in regal style, on a wooden carving board with a bowl of gently sweetened salsa verde on the side. The poultry offerings include a properly fiery Northern Thai duck laab (ground duck from Fazio Farms, plenty of green chiles, and lettuce leaves for wrapping), a helping of cool, subtly flavored poached boneless chicken mingled with shreds of smoked eggplant and tiny slices of pickled jalapeño, and smoked Bobo chicken, a favorite of my barbeque-loving daughters. The ambitious new large-plate items are less successful (bland knobs of chicken-fried rabbit, a bony whole turbot with a brackish uni-butter sauce), but Fatty ’Cue devotees can take refuge in old favorites, like slabs of glistening, deckle-cut brisket, and the sticky, truncheon-size heritage-pork ribs, which are smothered in Pelaccio’s familiar blend of fish sauce, Indonesian long peppers, and palm sugar.
These dishes don’t have quite the same raffish, messy charm that they do when they’re devoured among hordes of revelers at a cramped, smoky bar in their natural Williamsburg terroir (and if you’re not careful, the profusion of small plates can produce an oversize, big-city tab). But the Manhattanites at my table agreed that this was not necessarily such a bad thing. You can wash down your spicy dinner with a nice bottle of Grüner Veltliner (Steinhaus ’09) and although the wait staff dress in familiar hipster costume (plaid shirts, tweed jockey caps, etc.), many have trained at the finest gourmet restaurants in town. There’s even a “composed” cheese plate at this civilized, big-city barbecue joint, which, on the evening I enjoyed it, was made with toasted brioche, a drizzling of balsamic-flavored artisanal honey, and carefully crumbled chunks of Old Chatham Shaker Blue.
The table “bottle” program ($60 to $125) buys you a bottle of liquor for the evening, plus unlimited tonics and mixers, several of which are housemade.Ideal Meal
Kale salad, Trippa Malaysiana or Isaan-style duck laab, poached chicken or bacon and clams, deep-fried bacon, heritage-pork ribs, cheese plate.