Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Blue Smoke

Murray Hill, NY
212-447-7733

Review by Susu, ThePlazaQueen, MaceVindaloo, Rosie, SteakGril, Diana, Wraith6, Runt, Farklempt, with guest star: TheForeignGuest

"Barbecue" is a term that has come into the fore these days. People talk about it as if it were a holy thing, about how "real" barbecue is, how stuff is not barbecue, and what kind of secret spices one puts into a rub or sauce or mop to make it even realer ... and then there is discussion about how to eat it out of context with fine wine and black tie. As if any of that dreck matters??

It all comes down to "good food and a lot of it!" Oh, and let's define barbeque -- it means cooking with smoke, which means a slower, cooler cooking process than roasting. If you throw it over a hot gas or charcoal flame and cook it by searing, it's called grilling. Okay, we get it, we get it! (One of us even asked another who had traveled quite a way to be here, "Do you have decent barbeque at home?" The reply was, "Only when you come to visit and make it ..." The world is deprived, people!)

And yet, New York City has decent barbecue. You'd never have thought it was possible, but at Blue Smoke, one can get really really good ribs with excellent sauce, finer versions of side dishes than ever graced a southern church picnic anywhere. Yeah, we know we blasphemed just now ... but as long as hell has a pit like they do in the big city at Blue Smoke, we don't mind!

Keep in mind that whatever you order, it will be way too much! Even a half a rack of ribs is too much ... even considering you are ordering something that is mostly bone and sauce, it's too much. The plates are more like serving platter in size, and the food is good! You'll have plenty to share, as long as about half of you don't order anything. But that's impossible, of course. Ask for the leftovers, and they'll even pack them in 'reheat' sacks complete with instructions, or proper plastic takeout boxes that you can recycle for lunch use when you go to work or school the next day.

"For the table," we ordered the macaroni and cheese that everyone who loves this stuff raves about; frybread with chipotle butter, which is sort of like New Orleans beignets but not sweet; hushpuppies, which are traditionally cornmeal batter from deep fried fish dropped into the oil to fry on it's own (the apocryphal story is that the cook threw these no-waste treats at a group of yapping dogs and yelled, "Hush, puppies!" Yeah, whatever, we don't believe it either); grilled asparagus; creamed spinach. It was all really good! The frybread was tender and hot, and the flavored butter's sharpness was mellowed by the butterfat. The hushpuppies were surprisingly good -- crunchy, corny, and came with a nice jalopeño jelly for dipping. The mac and cheese was warm and gluey and salty -- not to everyone's liking but the aficionados were very happy with it. And the veggies were great -- very steakhouse, if you know what we mean?

For main courses, we went overboard. We got "marbled" brisket (instead of "lean" ... brisket is a fatty cut, what do they mean "lean"? It's also what corned beef and pastrami are made from ... one wonders if there could possibly be enough briskets in the world considering how much it's loved by many nationalities!); many ribs: babyback with a sweet sauce, Kansas City style with a spicier sauce, Texas beef ribs with a salt and pepper rub. We also got pulled pork, friend chicken, smoked chicken, and smoked hot sausage. We were oinkers it's true, but we had to ask for more than half of it to be packed up for us to take away, so that we'd have room for dessert.

Some of us stayed with tradition and got ice cream floats, or ice cream sodas, as they're called hereabouts. That's when you take a dollop of vanilla ice cream and pour orange soda over it, resulting in a foamy, orangy Creamsicle, or maybe you prefer grape soda, which case, you have a Purple Cow. Root beer is simply a Brown Cow, or a Rootbeer Float. Others order brownies sundaes, or the sticky toffee pudding, which is a dense, moist cake in the British style. Still others ordered plain vanilla ice cream, and a couple of us shared the cupcakes -- you get four per order, including an espresso mocha, coconut, devil's food, and boston creme, stuffed with vanilla pudding and topped with chocolate ganache. The pickier eaters stole the chocolate ones, but that was okay; the leftovers were great and those among us who appreciate mocha were all too glad to abscond with our share.

We took a non-Huttite with us to dinner -- he was a friend of a friend from a foreign country with only a few days in NYC. We figured what's more American than barbecue in New York City? He certainly was awed by the Flintstone-sized ribs and the big booths which sat half a dozen of us at a time. We tried to translate the limerick about the pickles on the wall, but it's hard to do. So we settled for him thinking this was a mad, mad, mad country with insane people who kept taking photos of the food. I think he wants some as souvenirs because the folks at home sure ain't gonna believe him if he tries to explain it ...


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