Food is served on paper-lined trays, with extra water- and grease-proof paper to make impromptu plates.
Brisket ($25 / Pound)
A shot of the lean end of the brisket, which has more inherent juiciness than most brisket flats in this city.
Forgive us: there's very low lighting in the restaurant, and we don't have a good illustrative photo of the fatty section. But you can see the top band of fat in this photo from our taste in August. The fat in this visit's portion was even more generous, and soft enough to melt into the meat.
Ribs ($22 / Pound)
Ribs come about six to a pound, and won us over even a little more than the brisket. They have the same pronounced peppery bark and remain tender to the core. Pick one up by the meat and the bone may very well slip out the middle.
The calm, smiling brisket man in the corner of the room.
The whole brisket has fatty and lean sections, and you'll be asked how you'd like yours. We tried both fatty and lean, and while the lean is juicier than other brisket flats in this city, we'll still recommend you ask for cuts on the fatty side.
Brisket the Old Fashioned Way
Dan smokes his brisket outdoors, where wood smoke is the only cooking medium, as opposed to exposing the meat to an initial smoke, then slow cooking it without smoke to doneness—the cheaper and easier route that most New York barbecue takes.
Doing so comes with challenges: "When starting this project I knew that if I couldn't cook barbecue the way it has been done for years, the way it's done down in Texas, I wouldn't do it. Using an indoor pit, for me, was never a consideration—not because I have something against it, but just because it seemed to deviate too far from what I knew. So, now that we are cooking outdoors, we're facing all these weird challenges that, given our region, might be more extreme than those often found in Texas. For example, it's been very cold and rainly lately—that drastically changes our cooking time, the temperature that we need to cook at, and how moist a smoking environment the briskets are in. So it's a constant game of adaptation. It's about staying consistent when the conditions around you change drastically."
Dan gets his meat from Creekstone Farms. He's working with Pat LaFreida to "put together a selection of briskets that are most in line with the sizing and shape that we have found to work best for our cooking process."
BrisketTown offers two to three meats a day, about two sides, and a pie.
German Potato Salad ($4)
With a restrained creaminess and a generous mustard kick.
Red Cabbage Slaw ($4)
Also light on the creamy dressing, letting the cabbage's natural sweetness shine through.
Pie is baked in-house. Of the many pumpkin pies we've tasted over the past couple months, this sweet potato-pumpkin version, with its restrained sweetness and buttery crust, ranks highly. There's also an apple pie on the menu.
The entrance is largely unmarked.
The counter service space seats 35. On our quiet Tuesday night visit, the room hummed comfortably; on busier nights, Dan tells us that the line stretches out the door.
View from the line
BrisketTown doesn't appear to be the place to linger for a lengthy dinner, especially as those on line for their brisket are eying your seats. But we get that: it's a barbecue joint after all, and like the friendly corner pizza parlor, it's cheery and welcoming while you're there, but dinner has a timeline.