I owe you guys an apology. I’ve been holding out on you. While Jill has been attending vegan potluck dinners, I’ve been eating pork. Lots and lots of pork. And it’s been goooooooood.
Exhibit A: The house-smoked BLT ($9) from swine-and-bourbon–centric Char No. 4, in Brooklyn. Yes, that’s a thick slab of pork belly, deep-fried. Before my mother keels over from the shock, let me say just that if there could possibly be a dainty interpretation of a thick-cut, deep-fried slab of pork belly, this would be it.
Nearly tea-sandwich–sized, with a thin spread of what’s billed as a chile-mustard aioli (for these tastebuds, severely lacking in chile flavor) and a little saucer of pickled onions and jalapeños, it’s the perfect size and balance of flavors. Well, almost. It needs some heat, and that’s easily remedied.
Exhibit B: Smoked and fried pork nuggets ($4). I was underwhelmed the first time I tried them, hoping for more solid meat (as in the BLT) and less of the finely chopped, soft and gooey interior that’s revealed when you take a bite, but they’re strangely addictive—I order them (to share, Mom, I swear!) every time I go in. Now, these nuggets in and of themselves are really pretty tasty, but the thing that makes the plate is that dish of the restaurant’s own incendiary, bright-red pepper sauce, hot enough to make a West Indian proud. Spread some on the BLT with the aioli, and the sandwich reaches new heights.
And, in case that isn’t enough, Exhibit C: Bacon cheddar grits ($4). These are, in a word, perfect. Dense, chewy, cheesy grits, studded with chunks of bacon, their richness cut with a handful of chopped scallions, this side dish could be a meal in and of itself. (A side note: The dinner menu features a shrimp-and-grits entry, with grits not nearly as good as these. If a switch were made, I would be one happy camper.)
That’s right, folks: This was brunch. We washed it down with a chipotle-bourbon Bloody Mary, and then went home and took a nap.
But as good as this meal was, and as happy as all of that non-kosher deliciousness made me, my favorite Char No. 4 menu items don’t include the cloven-hoofed wonder.
Stay tuned, I’ll tell you about them sometime.
Char No. 4
196 Smith St., Brooklyn