I noticed Char No. 4 before they opened, because of the simple yet elegant signage and the earth-tone color palate that stood out in contrast to the rest of surrounding Smith St. (196 Smith St., between Baltic and Warren Streets, 718-643-2106, www.charno4.com). I was excited about trying the newest restaurant to open up in the area.
I love love LOVE the lighting in the front room. Hanging from the ceiling are what look like about 30 upside-down round ottomans, covered in a brown burlap-like fabric. Or an upside-down pack of cigarettes. Very cool looking.
We started with the Kentucky Ham, served with Fig Jam, Pickled Onions and a chunk of toasted, crusty bread. WOW! This was ridiculously good. The ham was sliced super thin, had the lightest, nicest flavor and was paired with slightly sweet jam and beautiful pickles topped with black sesame seeds.
For a main course, I ordered the Hanger Steak with BBQ Sauce and Crispy Potatoes. The serving is definitely small-looking, but it's really plenty of food and the steak was perfect. The buttery meat cut easily, was tender and tasty and slightly salted on the outside. The BBQ Sauce was really interesting. I think there was some kind of cayenne pepper in it that gave it a little bite. The potatoes were nice and crispy and again, perfectly salted. Delicious!
My boyfriend got the Shrimp & Grits. This too was incredible. The pieces of shrimp were tender, fresh and not at all fishy-tasting. The dish was covered in lemongrass and scallions which added a nice, green flavor and the grits tasted a bit like really good corn chowder. It was such a refreshingly new combo and so well made.
For dessert there were two options, and we chose the homemade Pralines & Cream Ice Cream drizzled in Old Crow Bourbon. MMMmmmm. This was really great, full of sugar-coated pralines and raisins and made me want to drizzle bourbon over every dish of ice cream I have from now on. Amazing!
It's a bit on the pricey side - but is a nice spot to treat yourself on a special occasion. Thanks to Eater for linking to this review. And for more reviews, check out Urban Spoon.