It has been a while since I wanted to try Hometown Bar-B-que in Red Hook, but I admit that going from New Jersey to Brooklyn can feel like a whole trip, especially on the weekends with all the construction in the subway. But, I saw that it was possible to go there using the ferry to the neighboring IKEA, a ferry that is free on week ends, but can be packed. So we ended up going the week end of Labor Day (yes, I know: this post is long overdue) at Pier 11 with my co worker Quentin, for what would be a phenomenal meal. 25 minutes after boarding, we approached the restaurant, noticing a nice smell as well as a small “portable” smoker on the side of the street, smoker that I guess is used in fairs like Smorgasburg. After taking a photo of the facade, we entered the place and are surprised to already see a line inside considering that it was only 5 minutes after they opened, it was Labour Day week end and I secretly hoped that people would be sleeping late, hungover from their Friday evening drunkiness. I was wrong and we waited 30 minutes on line, Jodi making sure we got a table.
Hometown Bar-B-Que is quite big, rustic and smokey: you will surely leave with your belly full and your clothes smelling whatever wood they use for their BBQ. This is a cafeteria style restaurant with a carving station that makes you drool on the spot. Know that drinks are ordered separately at the bar. Food wise, Billy Durney, the pitmaster and co-owner, and Michael Conlon, the “pit boss”, serve a Texas style BBQ but not only: they crafted a menu that goes beyond you classic BBQ, offering for instance lamb belly, banh mi or Vietnamese chicken wings. There is unfortunately no sampler, but you can order by the half pound that will not spare you from ordering too much if like me you get crazy in this type of joint and...always order too much!
Here is what we had:
For drinks, I had a root beer and Jodi a ginger ale. They also have beers, but as we were going to a whiskey tasting later, I passed...
Lamb belly: if you like lamb, you will surely like it, although the amount of fat is pretty impressive as dripping from the meat and creating a not so appetizing coating once it becomes a jelly...Otherwise, it is very good, especially if you get some of the burnt ends.
Baby back ribs: I admit that I did not expect such a big size and thought these were small ribs...They were superb: falling off the bone, nicely charred and barely no fat.
Thick cut pastrami bacon: we fortunately ordered only one slice instead of 1/2 lb considering all the food we had. But it was so good that I regretted not having more. This is one of the best I had.
Hot Vietnamese wings: you get 3 for $9 and these are whole wings, not just the small chicken wings you sometimes get in restaurants. With their beautiful orange color, they were delightfully sticky, but not hot, slightly crunchy and sweet. But not hot at all. The chicken was perfectly cooked, being moist.
Brisket: the brisket was perfect. It was tender, juicy and had a nice char on the outset. In fact, when they put it on the board, just looking at that beautiful piece of meat, I was literally drooling and noticed that many people ordered the brisket sandwich that looked amazing. It was very good, but I admit that the brisket at Fette Sau is even better, a bold statement considering how good the one at Hometown is.
Homemade Italian sausage: delicious, the casing was not too hard and it was not over seasoned. I often find that homemade sausages in BBQ joints have too much fennel in it. It was not the case.
Now you probably wonder what Jodi ate. Being a vegetarian, a BBQ place might not be the best choice for her. Well, she was fine with sides and got the Mac and cheese that was quite creamy and the corn bread that was succulent, deliciously sweet.
We skipped dessert as we planned to go to Ample Hills Creamery, but it is another story...
I was so glad I tried Hometown Bar-B-Que: it went beyond my expectations and I understand now why people think this is the best in New York. It is a bit out the beaten path, but going there makes it a nice experience that you will not regret.
Enjoy (I did)!
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Hometown Bar-B-Que - 454 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, NY 11231