Blue Smoke (Battery Park City)
Maybe I was jet lagged, or sad about the end of yet another relationship, or anxious to hear if the NYT will publish my Modern Love story – whatever the reason, I was feeling pretty lethargic all weekend, only able to muster up enough energy to meet my friends for drinks and dinner. So when Michelle suggested we go for our 2 hour walk from the Upper West Side to Battery Park City on Sunday afternoon, I was initially hesitant to commit, but I’m so glad I did. It was another beautiful day in New York and the city was buzzing with people. The energy was contagious – just what I needed.
By the time we got to Michelle’s at about 6 p.m., we were both pretty hungry. As a treat, we went to Blue Smoke which opened in Battery Park City about six months ago. We both felt a bit grungy so we sat outside. With the scent of delicious BBQ permeating from the restaurant, I grew famished pretty quickly. As we perused the menu, we sipped on our cocktails – I had Patron with fresh lime juice on the rocks and Michelle had a gin martini. Gorgeous weather, delicious drinks and promise of a satisfying meal on the way – we were loving life, and New York City.
I ordered the Grilled Asparagus salad and Michelle ordered the Classic Ceasar to start. We were wowed by both. The grilled asparagus is served with crisped country ham, pickled spring onions and smoked lemon vinaigrette. The smokiness of the vinaigrette balanced with the brightness of the lemon added so much unique flavor to the salad. The country ham is served in big pieces – crumble it to get the saltiness in each bite.
Michelle was equally thrilled with her Ceasar salad, which she described as the best she’s ever had. With that kind of accolade, I had to take a few bites. It’s right up there with the Ceasar salad at Lombardi’s – what they’re both missing is fresh anchovies on the salad but they do use anchovy in the dressing which adds just the right amount of salty flavor. The romaine lettuce was fresh and crisp and the croutons were light and crunchy. I would go back to Blue Smoke to just order both salads again – one as an appetizer and one as my main dish. They were that good.
But on this particular night, we were not going vegetarian. There was still ample red meat for us to devour as we each ordered a half plate of the Texas Salt & Pepper Beef Ribs. We considered sharing the full order but were told that it’s not served with an even number of ribs. Not wanting to fight over the last rib, we each ordered our own half. To complement the ribs, we ordered a side of sauteed spinach and before our ribs arrived, we realized we would need some starch so we also ordered a side of the sweet potato wedges with maple dip.
The Beef Ribs are described as full of “smoky flavor, no sauce necessary”. That’s an accurate description as the salt & pepper dry rub adds lots of flavor to the meat which is tender and juicy – though it sadly doesn’t fall off the bone. But though it doesn’t need any sauce, I encourage you to try it with a few of the BBQ sauces on the table. My favorite combination was one that Michelle discovered by mixing the Carolina Kick Sauce (lots of spices – but not hot) with the Sweet & Spicy Kansas City BBQ Sauce (also not hot but more of a traditional BBQ sauce flavor). The two have very different textures and tastes that complement each other perfectly.
In between bitefuls of meat, Michelle and I did manage to also enjoy the sauteed spinach and sweet potato wedges (4 wedges). At first we disregarded the maple dip served on the side. I was expecting it to have the coloring and consistency of maple syrup, but it was creamy and white. We dipped our fork in the dip and neither of us was wowed by it. The maple was mixed with sour cream and probably mayonnaise. We decided to spare ourselves the calories. But then – just as we each got halfway thru our last wedge - I tried the dip with an actual piece of sweet potato. WOW! Suddenly all of the calories became worthwhile. The dish tasted more like dessert than a side – which was a good thing since we didn’t have any room left for dessert.
To wrap up our perfect day, we walked by a gorgeous garden when we left the restaurant on the way to Michelle’s apartment and the subway.