Occasionally, there are restaurants I’m seemingly always planning to visit that I never manage to actually visit. Char No 4’s on that short list, known for their classy American fare (with a definite hint of the South) paired with their extensive whiskey and bourbon selection. Their website actually defines the restaurant as “a whiskey bar and a restaurant inspired by a passion for bourbon”. Yes please. I finally made it there due to a special through Blackboard Eats, which entitled you to a free 2 oz. taste of one of two wiskeys (Rittenhouse Rye 100 or 4 Roses Bourbon) with the purchase of either an appetizer or entree. Deal.
On my first visit, my boyfriend and I decided to go with the fried jambalaya rice balls from the snack section of the menu, the bacon from the appetizer list, and the shrimp and grits entree. The jambalaya balls were very flavorful – slightly spicy and not overly salty. The andouille aioli served along with it was a nice touch. Note, they take the word “snack” seriously here – you’ll see that the order included three balls.
I can’t help but know I’m going to love a restaurant that has bacon as an appetizer. The bacon is house smoked and it’s a thick cut, served alongside molasses marinated grilled corn Awesome. The bacon is thick and chewy. If crispy is your preference this might not be for you.
Our main course was my favorite out if the meal. They used chile marinated shrimp and paired it with sweet corn-hominy grits, scallions and baby cilantro. Sometimes as much as I much as I love my grits, meals incorporating them can come out too heavy (such as in the brunch that unfortunately preceded my first trapeze class). At Char No 4 though, they avoid this. They’re light and fluffy. Added plus is the spicy shrimp they’ve used, which add a nice needed kick to the grits.
The next visit, I wanted to mix it up, and so I went with their cornflake crusted crab cake with a side order of their cheddar polenta fries with ancho chile sauce. The crab cake was okay. Somehow it was soggy, and didn’t have a lot of flavor. The lemon bay leaf sauce was a nice touch, but next time it’s back to the shrimp and grits for me (or perhaps their mole pork sausage or their chopped pork sandwich).
The polenta fries though were quite good. If you’re looking for something to add, I highly recommend them. I tried my friend’s smoked and fried pork nuggets with Char No. 4 hot sauce, which I really liked. She spoke so highly of their french onion soup that I may have to try it next time – it was prepared with vidalia onions, bacon-chicken broth and a cheese crouton.
Char No 4 – 195 Smith Street (at ) – 718.643.2106