While doing some business in the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn, I quite accidentally stumbled across this restaurant that specializes in some of my favorite things. Char No. 4 sits behind an unassuming storefront on Smith Street. Once inside, the wood and leather interior foreshadows the experience to come. The restaurant’s website describes Char No. 4 as “a whiskey bar and restaurant inspired by a passion for bourbon.” While I enjoyed my meal, I counted no fewer than 157 different varieties of whiskey, with a clear emphasis on bourbon and other American forms, on display behind the bar. In addition to theses whiskies, the staff also infuse bourbons with various flavors, including habanero peppers. When I spoke with the bartender, who was very enthusiastic about his craft, he mentioned the barrel-aged cocktails they have on offer including Manhattans and mint juleps.
As my visit was an early one on a weekend, the brunch menu was being served. I selected a chipotle bloody Mary and biscuits benedict. Oddly enough, I had managed to make it this far in life without ever having a bloody mary, so while I don’t have anything to compare it to, I can say that the flavors were clean and distinct. The smoky spiciness of the chipotle effectively disguised any alcohol flavors, and the drink was pleasant and refreshing. The fresh, crunchy, house-made pickle was a nice touch. I think the folks at Char may have ruined me for all other bloody Marys. The benedict was a moist, buttery biscuit topped with ham smoked in-house, perfectly poached eggs, and a flavorful bacon gravy. Everything tasted wonderful, although I left half of the biscuit behind. While it was very tasty, it was also very dense. I was offered some of their house-made hot sauce, which I immediately accepted. The sauce is full of fruity pepper flavors with a heat that lingers in the back of the throat but doesn’t overload the taste buds.
Since I gave up part of my biscuit, I figured that it couldn’t hurt to try the house-cured thick-cut bacon. Two roughly quarter-inch thick strips are served with a side of maple syrup. Those who know me know I love bacon. This was the most bacon-y tasting bacon I have ever had. I cannot recommend it enough. It is smoky, salty, sweet and sinfully fatty.
Finally, I sampled the cheese curds. Having spent a lot of time in Wisconsin, I have come to appreciate the beauty of a good cheese curd, and these would stand up to the curds I’ve had in the badger state. They’re not quite, but almost squeaky on the teeth. At this point, I wished I could keep going and sample more of the gorgeous products the kitchen at Char No. 4 produces, but I could hear a little cardiologist in the back of my head clicking her tongue at me. I’ll definitely have to come back another day.
Char No. 4 can be found at:
196 Smith Street
Brooklyn, New York 11201
…which is just a block away from the Bergen Street subway station (F and G trains).