Rave Review: Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue

It took some time to pick an eatery that I felt strongly enough about to write my first ever review for. For weeks I thought about all of the great restaurants where I have eaten recently, but none of them spoke to me as needing a review, and, as with all new things, I was intimidated by the prospect of writing my first ever review–I still am.

Fortunately, I found the perfect place to help me get over my writer’s fear: Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue. Fletcher’s is dangerously close to Harry’s place (i.e. in the building), at 433 Third Avenue in Gowanus. After months of waiting for them to open, keeping fingers crossed during community board hearings, and hoping the post-Sandy toxic shitstorm from the close-by Gowanus Canal wouldn’t further impede opening day, Fletcher’s finally opened their doors on Friday evening. After a week of working from home (a.k.a. showering less and less frequently, refusing to wear real pants, and constantly checking the MTA website to see when there would finally be some hope of going more than walking distance from home), I couldn’t have been more excited to try out this Texas pit-style barbecue joint.

Harry and I took a go big or go home approach, and ordered brisket, ribs, char siu pork, stuffed poblano peppers, and baked beans. And beer, because dammit if we weren’t going to celebrate the fact that Fletcher’s got a liquor license.

All of the meats were beyond up to par, but the real stand out for me was the brisket. I believe whoever first thought of the phrase melt-in-your-mouth must have been eating something akin to this brisket. The meat was so soft and tender, the exterior was perfectly blackened, and the slivers of fat, which I have been known to cut off and make into an unappealing little pile on my plate in past, were so salty and crisp that I could not resist eating every last bit. The char siu pork and ribs were perfectly cooked (yes, the meat came right off the ribs), and I can’t wait to go back and try the pulled pork (the only meat we did not sample).

The other surprising stand-out from the meal was the baked beans. The side included a variety of beans, and bacon, and I believe it was cooked in Fletcher’s homemade barbecue sauce, which is so sweet, smokey, and tangy, that it really deserves an entire review of its own. Seriously, if I had brought a larger purse, the big barbecue sauce dispenser might have ended up in my purse. Just kidding, Fletcher’s, please don’t ban me. But, back to the sauce, I think part of the reason I appreciated it so much was because the meat did not come slathered in it, but sauceless, and so I could enjoy the meat both without sauce and slathered in as much sticky, sweet goodness as I wanted. Both ways were delicious.

Now that I’ve raved about the meat, sauce, and baked beans, there were a few things that I thought could use some improvement. The stuffed poblano pepper was too spicy for my taste, and the pepper overshadowed the taste of the filling. That being said, if you like spicy, you would probably love it. The pricing of the sides also surprised me, as all sides were five dollars, even the small trays of pickles (which are homemade and I can’t wait to try) and coleslaw. Though, if the exorbitant side prices are what’s keeping the meat prices low, I am more than fine with that.
The beer selection was all local, which I appreciated, though it would have been nice to have a few more options on tap–there were only three when I was there. The space could have been better set up as well, as many of the seats were close together, so that people had to get up and push their chairs in whenever someone wanted to pass by. Otherwise, the ambience is reminiscent of Gowanus’ industrial history, and the counter-service allows for maximal lip-licking as you decide what to order.
Finally, here is the real problem: Fletcher’s does not open until 5 P.M. What am I to do when I want a pulled pork sandwich for lunch? How am I supposed to contain myself when I can smell the barbecue cooking all day from Harry’s apartment? I’m just not ready to invest in a smoke pit of my own, though I guess Christmas is coming up (hint hint).
Still, these issues are minor for a newly opened restaurant, and I’m sure Fletcher’s will figure out these small kinks as time goes on. Fletcher’s has nothing but my full endorsement and a plea to have longer hours! I’ll be returning as soon as I can for the pulled pork, pickles, and some desserts from Baked (word on the street is that their whoopie pies will be sold at Fletcher’s).

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