Fette Sau

I'm pretty sure that trying to be a vegetarian is an obligatory part of any Wesleyan student's education. And many, I'm sure, succeed. I attempted to be a vegetarian the first semester of my freshman year and was actually pretty successful -- until Thanksgiving, that is. The turkey, ham, and my mom's excellent stuffing were just too much. Ah well. I don't think it was meant to be anyways -- I love barbecue and fried chicken FAR too much to try to give that up. Not that I'm knocking those who do choose to be vegetarian -- I actually quite enjoy tofu and I think that in many cases the environmental impact of eating meat can be too much.

However, this is not a post about the moral implications about eating meat. Rather, this is a post about excellent barbecue, at a marvelous place in Williamsburg called Fette Sau. Not vegetarian friendly -- you literally order meat by the pound. Options are limited, but that's alright with me. All of the meat is smoked for hours on location (a rare feat in NYC), and you can choose from a few options and rotating sides. Go with the brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. Just trust me. For sides, the German-style potato salad is a perfect foil for the smoky meat, and the baked beans are cooked with the burnt pork ends, making them wonderfully smoky and hearty. The meat is served with doughy rolls and the long tables are scattered with various barbecue sauces, including a spicy one and one laced with mustard. Fette Sau (which, appropriately, means Fat Pig in German), also has a great whiskey selection and multiple beers on tap to wash down your meal. Go on a night when you can sit outside, as the four long inside tables are always packed. You'll know you have arrived when you smell smoky, succulent pork wafting onto the street -- and how can anyone resist that?

(Clearly, not me, since I went twice in the span of a week.)

Restaurants: Dumont Burger

Oh, Dumont Burger, how I love you. You never cease to amaze me, with your tender and succulent beef patty, crunchy lettuce and onions, and toasted bun. With or without cheese, you are perfect. I could rhapsodize about your vinegary pickles, your crispy fries, and your incredible onion rings, but really, it is the burger that takes center stage.

If you live in New York and haven't been to Dumont Burger, I suggest you hop on the L train and run there. Immediately.

No really, you will thank me.

Dumont Burger is the off-shoot of a slightly fancier restaurant called Dumont, both located in Williamsburg. Dumont has better ambiance, with a lovely garden outside (and an excellent fried artichoke salad). They also serve the same burger, but in my opinion it is somehow better at the appropriately named Dumont Burger. The only unfortunate thing there is that the seating, especially in the winter, is limited. It is really more like a bar inside, but on warm summer nights, life doesn't get much better than sitting outside at the sidewalk tables with a giant burger in hand and a cold Hoegaarden to wash it all down. Of course, they have other items on the menu besides burgers and fries, such as a pulled pork sandwich and turkey burger. However, I ordered the turkey burger once and while it was good for a turkey burger -- that was about it. I enviously looked at my dining companion's regular burger with regret. As the inimitable Ray Isle, Food & Wine's  Executive Wine Editor, recently said:

"Somewhere out there someone is trying to stay healthy by eating [a turkey burger]. Madness knows no bounds. Drink water with it, then watch Papillon, the great Steve McQueen movie about being in prison on Devil’s Island in French Guiana—because that is what you are doing to your soul, my friend."

(See the full article on burgers and wine pairings here)

Many people claim to know the best burger in New York, but in my humble opinion, it can be found on Bedford Avenue  in Williamsburg, just a short ride from Manhattan.

Also, does anyone know where they get those pickles?