Magazine article The New Yorker

Char No. 4

Magazine article The New Yorker

Char No. 4

Article excerpt

Char No. 4, in Cobble Hill, belongs to the lately fashionable Southern genus. Witness the pervasive campfire scent from the basement smoker, the Texan chef (Matt Greco), and the service--as unhurried and welcoming as a drawl. But taxonomists may argue whether the place constitutes a restaurant, or merely a sophisticated bourbon showcase that happens to serve food. Hundreds of illuminated bottles of whiskey (mostly bourbon) reach to the ceiling behind the bar, and light fixtures in the shape of bourbon barrels cast a warm whiskey glow. The name itself--Char No. 4--refers to the highest degree of charring such barrels receive before the aging process. As might be expected, the cocktails are handled with care: the Homerun, if not quite the triumph its name implies, is refreshingly mature for a drink mixed with pineapple juice, and the addition of bourbon to a Bloody Mary affords a pleasant brown-sugar note. The food is not an afterthought, exactly, but if you happen to neglect your dinner plans after a third pour of Pappy Van Winkle, no one will pay it too much mind.

If you do make it to a booth, you'll find that the taxonomical conundrums extend to the menu. The eggs Benedict could pass for biscuits and gravy; the clam chowder is as texturally homogeneous as a bisque; the dandelion greens cooked with applesauce wind up tasting like pie. …

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