The Spot: Char No. 4
The neighborhood: Boerum Hill (located on near the corner of Baltic and Smith)
The Scoop: Char No. 4 has been known throughout the area since 2008 for its wide selection of Rye, Bourbon, Scotch, and Whiskey. It was my third time checking out their brunch menu, and they never disappoint. The service, even when busy, is always superb. While they do serve Mimosas, I would suggest that whiskey lovers try their Chipotle Bourbon Bloody Mary. The bourbon isn’t overpowering, and it brings out a smoky, woody flavor that the classic vodka versions simply cannot. Add a subtle kick of chipotle spice, and your brunch is off to a great start.
The ambiance is subtle, but you can tell a lot of thought went into the design. Cylindrical lights spread throughout the restaurant call to the oak barrels that all of their whiskeys are aged in, while the golden hues that fill the space remind you of the color of your favorite scotch. There is ample seating, and service always seems to be superb.
What I Tried:
Poached Eggs $10 / Poached eggs, chunks of thick-cut bacon, cheddar grits, scallion garnish
For those who love grits, Char No. 4 is the place to go. Stone ground yellow grits fill a cast iron bowl; the right amount of cheddar is mixed in to give the grits a creamy texture while still maintaining its characteristic- well- grittiness. Thick cut chunks of bacon are hidden throughout the dish, a rewarding discovery each time you find that your spoon as found one.
The poached eggs and scallions are what sets this dish apart. If you like a runny yolk, you’ll have to break into your eggs before the heat of the grits cooks them too much further. The silkiness of the eggs, the crunch of the scallions, the chewiness of the bacon, and the gritty-cheddar all combine for the perfect combination of texture and taste.
For the uninitiated, the metallic taste that comes from scraping your spoon along the cast iron bowl may be a little off-putting, but it’s well worth it.
Biscuits Benedict $14 / Smoked Ham, Poached Eggs & Mornay Sauce
The Biscuits Benedict is a great spin on the traditional Eggs Benedict dish. Slices of ham are placed on fluffy biscuits, then topped with Mornay Sauce (or, as I often refer to it as, “white sausage gravy”).
While the sauce itself risks wandering into the territory of bland, it’s neutral enough to serve as an agent that brings out the delicious biscuit flavor in the dish. While I can’t guarantee that Eggs Benedict fans will automatically fall in love with this dish, I will say that they should give it a try. Texture and flavor come together here, but not nearly as harmoniously as the grits dish. As mentioned, the sauce isn’t write your mom good, but I was more than happy to sop up what was left over of it with my extra biscuit.
Speaking of biscuits, this is the true shining point of the dish. With a perfect balance of moist, buttery, and flaky, they would be perfectly good to eat in their own right.
- You can make an Open Table reservation straight from their site. While brunch at Char No. 4 isn’t always 30-minute wait long (in large part because of the size of their location, and not the quality of food), there are times when you may show up and be asked to wait a while. Err on the side of safety and make a reservation, which can be done up to the point you leave your house to go there.
- There is outdoor seating in the back. Request that you be seated there if it’s a beautiful day.
Verdict: Char No. 4 is a go to for brunch on Smith St for a couple of reasons. First, the only other place you’re going to get grits as good is Seersucker, a 10-15 minute walk down Smith to President St. Second, the service staff is always friendly and attentive. Add that to the the general availability of seating and you’ve got a go to place for brunch in Boerum Hill.