354 Metropolitan Ave.
(between 4th St & Roebling St)
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Our Rating: ★★★★★ Exquisite
Cards: Mastercard and Visa
Price: most meets $16 per lb, sides $3-$7
Hours: Mon-Fri 5 pm – 11 pm; Sat-Sun 12 pm – 11 pm; Kitchen and front yard close at 11pm,
bar and bar snacks (pulled pork sandwiches,
sausage sandwiches and baked beans) till closing time.
Booze: Full Bar
Subway: L to Bedford Ave. or Lorimer St.
NY Mag Says:
ot since the original Long Island City Pearson’s, perhaps, has a location been as ideally suited for barbecue as Williamsburg’s Fette Sau (“fat pig” in German). Kim and Joe Carroll, owners of the inimitable beer bar Spuyten Duyvil, had been scouting locations for their second venture when they learned that Tony & Sons, the auto-body repair shop across the street, was renting out part of its fenced-in lot and cinderblock building. The couple preserved the shop’s industrial vibe, outfitting the driveway with picnic tables and the wood-beamed, cement-floored interior with phonograph-horn light fixtures and stools fashioned from John Deere tractor seats. The centerpiece, though, is the Southern Pride gas-and-wood-fired smoker capable of slow-cooking 500 pounds of meat at a time. An avid backyard barbecuer, Joe eschews regional styles, finding inspiration in local ingredients like Italian fennel sausage from a nearby butcher, and his own proprietary panela-and-espresso-based spice rub. Head chef Matt Lang, late of Pearl Oyster Bar, swaps surf for turf with a rotating menu of pork and beef ribs and shoulders, pigs’ tails, flank steak, leg of lamb, pork belly, and pastrami, all sold by weight and served on butcher paper, sauce on the side. The drink list is appropriately heavy on North American bourbon and whiskey, with a smattering of tequilas, mescals, rums, and vodkas, and of the ten tap beers, four are custom-brewed by New Jersey’s Heavyweight and Brooklyn’s own Greenpoint.
Time Out Says:
Doubts that Joe and Kim Carroll were serious when they named their new Williamsburg barbecue joint Fette Sau, German for “fat pig,” are put to rest at the food counter, where the lightest meat served is charred pork (even chicken has been banished). Any lingering apprehension vanishes at the bar, where beer drinkers can choose from ten brews on tap, offered in gallon-size glass jugs.
Such unbutton-the-pants gusto, fervent even by gluttonous barbecue standards, makes Fette Sau great fun. After waiting dutifully in line, patrons order their meats by the pound, glistening mounds heaped onto paper-lined baking trays (only about half the menu’s offerings are available at any given time). Want a drink? You’ll have to make a separate trip to the bar. For those who prefer their smoke in a glass, there’s an encyclopedic bourbon selection—no surprise to diners familiar with Carroll’s obsessive Belgian beer list at Spuyten Duyvil.
Offsetting the boozy pedantry is the physical space, a former auto body shop. Picnic tables now fill both the driveway and the cement-floor garage, and tractor seats serve as barstools. The hipsters in the crowd, sporting handlebar mustaches, their finest plaid button-downs and Cat diesel hats, looked like they’ve stopped for dinner enroute to a red-neck costume party. They dab their soiled fingers with low-grade paper towel—the Wetnaps haven’t arrived yet.
Carroll leaves the cooking to pit master Matt Lang, a reformed fishmonger from Pearl Oyster Bar, and his gas-and-wood Southern Pride smoker. Lang has no professional barbecue bona fides, but he does have his moments. Lean baby back ribs come tender and pink in the middle, the tasty meat carrying a hint of smoke and a light rub of espresso and brown sugar. Lang cakes a coriander black-pepper rub onto his thick-crusted pastrami, which gets a sweet, fatty coating from the drippings of its ovenmates.
Lang’s more ambitious options were comparatively bland, including flank steak and pork belly (save a pulled lamb, beef and pork are Fette Sau’s two exclusive muses). The steak came extra-lean, and the belly was all fat and no marbling. Barbecue is not inherently a complimentary process for either cut—both tend to shine when prepared with kid gloves.
Fette Sau’s serving system also puts the meat at a disadvantage. The cuts sit in chafing dishes, which I blame for the ashen state of the pulled pork. It got no help from the horrid sauces, which sit on tables in unmarked squirt bottles. One, made with chipotle and ancho chilis, tasted so astringent that I sampled numerous bottles to ensure mine wasn’t an auto-shop castoff. An alternative was a hopelessly cloying mix of brown sugar and ketchup. (The best option: vinegar.)
There’s little to recommend in terms of sides. Apart from the baked beans with burnt-brisket ends and cold broccoli spears, the rest (half-sour pickles and fresh sauerkraut from Guss’ Pickles on the Lower East Side) are pre-fab. Ditto on desserts. Carroll offers a sole option: a plate of chocolate truffles. Not the most natural (or appetizing) ending to a ’cue dinner.
Like its bourbon selection, Fette Sau should get better with age. Until then, there’s just one way to eat here: in-house. This food only works in context.