Blue Smoke, Danny Meyer’s barbecue joint, now has a second Manhattan location, sharing a building in Battery Park City around the corner from Goldman Sachs with his other new restaurant, North End Grill.
The new location feels a bit smaller than the original Blue Smoke, in the Flatiron District. (The earlier restaurant also has a club attached, Jazz Standard.) The Flatiron outpost takes reservations for parties of all sizes; here, they’re taken only for parties of 6 or more. Flatiron transferred my bar tab; this one did not.
My view of Blue Smoke hasn’t changed much from when I reviewed the Flatiron restaurant. It feels a bit corporate and inauthentic, because it serves a mash-up of multiple regional barbecue styles, not really nailing any of them. In compensation for that, you get the excellent Danny Meyer service, and a better beverage program than almost all barbecue places.
We loved the Grilled Oysters with Spinach and Toasted Breadcrumbs ($8.95; above left), though it is a bit annoying that such a readily sharable dish comes with an odd number of oysters.
There are three kinds of ribs: Kansas City spareribs, Memphis-style baby-backs, and Texas Salt-and-Pepper beef ribs. A sampler of four, four, and two respectively, is $38.95 (above right). The Texas ribs, with their meager allotment of beef on the bones, were disappointing. My girlfriend liked the smaller, more dry, Memphis ribs the best; I had trouble deciding between those and the larger, saucier K.C. ribs.
There’s an abundance of sides, and I wish we’d had the appetite for more of them. The cornbread ($3.95; below left) was just fine.
I checked in on foursquare when I arrived, as I do at many restaurants, and by mid-meal a manager type came over to say hello (sent by Danny Meyer himself). Now, many restaurants check social media, but I haven’t often been noticed while the meal was in progress; usually it’s the day after. Finding me here took some sleuthing, as I hadn’t given my name. It says a lot about Danny Meyer’s attention to detail, when they go to the trouble at a barbecue place that doesn’t take reservations.
A warm strawberry rhubarb pie (above right), for which we weren’t charged, was excellent. I’d drop in again just for that pie.
There’s an excellent list of whiskies, bourbons and ryes; more beers on tap and by the bottle than you’ll get around to trying; and even a short but reasonable wine list. I had a fine Sazerac at the bar ($9) and an inexpensive Montepulciano at the table ($40).
The neighborhood—really, any neighborhood—is better with Blue Smoke in it. The crowd is a mix of Wall Streeters and young families. The restaurant was doing a good business at 7:30 p.m. on a weeknight, but wasn’t completely full. Blue Smoke will be a hit, make no mistake about it.
Blue Smoke (255 Vesey Street near North End Avenue, Battery Park City)
Food: Corporate barbecue with some good accompaniments and great dessert
Service: Danny Meyer’s strong suit
Ambiance: What you expect a barbecue place to be
Why? There’s better ’cue in the city, but I’d be here all the time if I lived nearby