Tucked into an airy space near Rockefeller Park is a love letter to Southern cooking, the barbecue institution known as Bluesmoke. Legend has it that when the restaurant was in its infancy it enlisted the help of acclaimed pit master, Mike Mills. Upon sharing a tip on creating the perfect BBQ Mills said “when you mop the ribs and they are cooked to perfection, the smoke turns blue” thus the restaurant name was born.
Now under the helm of renowned chef Bret Lunsford, the restaurant is an eclectic mix of regional Southern cuisine. From the coastal Carolinas to the piny woods of central Texas Bluesmoke creates an ever evolving menu of southern classics and BBQ favorites with a twist. His passion for the diverse nature of the culinary fare is evident. “Barbecue is the most truly American cuisine that we have. While other styles of cooking have found ways on to the American table, using wood and smoke to cook is found globally, true American Barbecue is something unique to this country.” says Lunsford. “It is a blend of traditions and techniques that can be dated back to the time of early European Explorers encountering the Indigenous people of the New World. Barbecue has touches of spices, ingredients, and techniques from just about every culture who have impacted the American story. It is a celebration of American culture that has the power to bring people from all walks of life together.”
But with such an extensive menu what would the chef have you try on your first visit? Here Lunsford shares his ideal starter meal.
“To start definitely grab some smoked wings (both the Alabama White Wings and the Chipotle Wings are delicious), some deviled eggs, and a plate of the Barbecue Nachos for the table to share.”
“For mains, our brisket is my favorite smoked meat on the menu (I always recommend a nice slice of marbled). I love fried chicken and biscuits, and I’m absolutely a little biased, but Erma Jean’s Fried Chicken (named after my Granny) is some of the best and honest fried chicken you can get in NYC. You also have to grab a side of our Mac & Cheese. Its our 20 year recipe that is some of the creamiest “stove-top” style mac & cheese that you will ever have.”
“For dessert, our Key Lime Pie is a must have. Creamy smooth key lime filling in a graham cracker crust with some whipped cream on top is a perfect way to end a meal. You also can’t go wrong with some Mississippi Mud Pie Parfait. The salted bourbon caramel is a real star and the whole dessert brings me back to family reunions in Mississippi.”
“Make sure you grab a cocktail or two with your meal. The Blood Orange Margarita, Bayou Bird, or Pep Squad are some of my favorites.”
With it’s warm environment, delicious food, and lively music Bluesmoke is not a place to miss on your next visit to the city. Or if you do not have the time to stop by for the month of July 2022 Lunsford will be partnering with the Four Seasons Downtown, Executive Chef Maria Tampakis, for a new in-room dining experience with a specially curated sampling of the restaurants menu. Featuring, four signature dishes including the deviled eggs, fried chicken and biscuits, mac and cheese, and to finish off the meal a slice of key lime pie.
Food Photography by: Charissa Fay
Lifestyle Photography by: Arnaud Montagard