I first learned that Blue Smoke has closed via Ryan Cooper of Smoke Sheet fame’s Facebook feed. To be precise, Blue Smoke first closed back in March at the beginning of the New York City lockdown. The owners now have announced that it will never reopen.
Blue Smoke is – or was – remarkable in a number of ways. It was and remains the only barbecue place I’ve ever tried in New York City. (I need to get up there.) It was easily the most expensive meal I’ve ever had at a barbecue place ($128 for two with tip). And it had, on their outstanding chicken wings, perhaps the best white sauce I’ve ever had.
Blue Smoke also remains the only place on the face of the earth in which I’ve ever seen people eat barbecued ribs with a knife and fork. And Blue Smoke is the only barbecue place in which I’ve ever seen people drinking cocktails with umbrellas. The world is full of bizarre folkways.
Robert Moss has a retrospective on Blue Smoke in the current issue of the Cue Sheet. It turns out that after I ate there, Blue Smoke shifted away from their ground-breaking but ultimately losing effort to match the various traditional barbecue styles, an effort that John Shelton Reed styles the International House of Barbecue, to a more New Yorkish place, with things like cured duck, chicken liver pâté, and Cajun court bouillon. I really hope they saved that white sauce recipe.
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