Have I told you about my new love? Sure, you already know of my obsession for sandwiches and beer but there’s something else that’s been stealing my heart these days: bourbon. My first experience with bourbon came during a frat party for the Kentucky Derby when someone mixed me up the most heinous mint julep ever served to a human being. I vowed never to drink bourbon again and it looked like I would keep that promise until this past winter when Rick and his friends decided to go to a beer, bourbon, and bbq festival. I couldn’t very well pass up that opportunity and since I was paying an arm and leg I decided I might as well get my moneys worth by trying the bourbons. Shocker: I loved them I haven’t looked back.
That’s why when Ivana and Dave both sent me a link for a 3 course prix fixe bourbon meal at Char No. 4, I gladly said yes. The deal came from Blackboard Eats and we got 3 choices for appetizers, matched with any of their bourbon drinks, 3 options for entrée, each matched with a beer, and their salted caramel ice cream with a glass of Makers Mark 46. To give some background, Char No. 4 is a bourbon and bbq centric restaurant in Carrol Gardens that has been getting a lot of hype since it opened. According to Blackboard Eats, the name refers to “the practice of heating the oak staves used to make bourbon barrels. There are four degrees of char, No. 4 being the most intense.” Enjoy that nugget of knowledge.
Rick and I got there a bit early so we took a seat at their bar and ordered up some drinks. From 5-7 they have an awesome happy hour deal where specific bourbons and bar food are half off. I got the bourbon from Kings County, a distillery located right here in Brooklyn. I literally know almost nothing about what makes a good bourbon, I just know what I like, and I really liked this one. Once at our table we decided that we had to order a few of the snacks listed on their menu, though they weren’t part of our deal. We got the fried pork nuggets, the crispy cheese curds, and their deviled eggs. Do not miss these if you go. Fried cheese curds? Who knew?! Crispy pork nuggets? How can you go wrong?! I would happily go back just to sit at the bar and eat these with a nice glass of bourbon.
Lets start with the appetizers and drinks (all of these are offered on their regular menu):
- Wild Arugula Salad with beets, ricotta, citrus vinaigrette – Peppery arugula, mixed with creamy ricotta and earthy beets punched up with some citrus? Salads can be boring; this is not one of those salads. Really a nice mix of flavors.
- French Onion Soup with cheese crouton – It was chilly last night and this warmed me right up. French onion soup has such a homey feel to it, add the bits of bacon floating around in the broth and this one was extra good. Plus, cheese crouton? Yes please.
- Chicken Live Mousse with fig mostarda – Rich and hearty, this is not an appetizer for the faint of heart. They really give you a lot of mousse. That said, the chicken liver with the fig was an awesome combo. Really, really delicious.
As for the drinks I had the Bourbon Insider, which was made with bourbon, hard apple cider, and fall spices. It was awesome. It tasted like fall in a cup and it was even a bit spicy. There was also a Nor’Easter, which was ginger beer, lime, and maple syrup and was probably the best drink of the night. Ivana ordered the bloody mary, which I’m usually not a fan of, but this one could have converted me. I finally see why people enjoy drinking them.
- Shrimp and Grits – I just had a taste of the grits but they were what I imagined grits to taste like – creamy and mild. Ivana would have liked them to be a bit more flavorful, with a bit of spice or at least something to give them a little extra umph. I can see why, they’re not exactly mind-blowing.
- Mole Sausage with chicharrones – The sausage was good, the chicharrones were out of this world, incredible. Tiny little nuggets of extreme pork flavor. Like an entire pigs worth of flavor crammed into this little itty bitty bite. And that alone is why I could never become a vegetarian.
- Cheese Potato Dumplings– These little nuggets, like gnocchi, came with preserved tomatoes and squash. I was a little disappointed by the texture of the dumplings – they were gritty and I was expecting silky smooth. I don’t know if they meant for them to be like that but it wasn’t a nice mouth feel. The tomatoes, on the other hand, had this intense concentrated tomato flavor. They were easily the best part of this dish and they redeemed the dumplings for not being the best.
For dessert we each got a bowl of their salted caramel ice cream with nuts. I’m not a big nut in my dessert person but these were coated with sugar and caramel so I couldn’t really complain about them.
It’s worth a trip here for the bourbon alone but the food certainly lends itself well to the drinking. I wouldn’t claim this was anything mind altering but it was certainly delicious.