You probably already know all about Dan Delaney, the equal parts cook/businessman/tinkerer/hipster/marketer who turned last years' pop-up BrisketLab into the full-on brick and mortar restaurant BrisketTown in Williamsburg in the fall. The restaurant serves up some seriously legit central Texas-style barbecue (read: brisket + salt + pepper + smoke).
More recently, he opened SmokeLine, a barbecue stall serving sandwiches and a few barbecue items around the 15th street entrance to the High Line. I stopped by to check out the goods.
The Deckle ($8, pictured at top), made with thick slices of fatty and peppery smoked brisket served on a toasted buttered roll with crisp homemade pickles and sliced raw onion, is outstanding. In the past, Ed and others have noted that the level of smoke that penetrates the meat has been occasionally inconsistent, with some batches properly mild on smoke flavor, others tasting nearly charred. By my reckoning, this batch was spot-on. Just a hint of smokiness with the flavor of the beef fat and pepper carrying it most of the way through.
The pricier sandwich on the menu is The Mess. For $10, you get chopped lean and fatty brisket, pulled beef rib meat, a bright pink onion relish, chili sauce, and a slice of cheese that's been fried directly on a griddle until crisp, all in a grilled roll. Frankly, it's the more enticing of the two sandwich options, but for all its persuasive ingredients, it doesn't come together quite so well as the simple harmony of the three-ingredient Deckle. I'd stick with the former.
Also on the menu is a single large short rib ($28, feeds two), though they were out when we visited, and pork ribs available by the 1/3rd rack and priced at $36/rack.
We knew we were in a bit of trouble when we saw the pork racks being lifted onto the carving station, steaming as they came out of their tight aluminum foil wrappers. Without the ability to cook or properly re-heat ribs on-site, the ribs need to be brought out to Smokeline daily.
Sure enough, while the meat itself was impeccably cooked—deep pink smoke ring and flesh that was tender but not so tender as to fall off the bone without a gentle tug—the prized bark had softened in transport, leaving the ribs a bit lacking in textural contrast.
Still, by New York standards—by any standards, in fact—Delaney is doing some pretty great work here and at BrisketTown. We look forward to seeing what he pulls off next.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.