It all started with a craving—a pregnant woman’s craving for barbequed brisket.
owners, Jacques Gautier and Anthony Laudato were out having a few beers when Laudato got a call from his pregnant wife who said she needed barbeque brisket, stat.
The two knocked their heads together and could only come up with one place, in Fort Greene, but they would not deliver to Park Slope.
“That’s when a light went off in my head,” Gautier said while standing behind the wood-bordered counter at Fort Reno on Union Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues on Thursday night. “There was no other barbeque place in Park Slope, it’s something we needed here.”
So the team paired up with executive chef, or “The Pit Master” as they prefer to call her, Lia Forman, went to work, and .
They serve four different choices of meat that come in quarter, half or full pound servings: St. Louis ribs ($9, $15 or $29), pulled pork ($6, $11 or $19), fatty brisket ($8, $13 or $24) and BBQ chicken ($12 or $22).
For they are serving a half-pound of meat with any three sides and dessert for $25.
All of their meat is sustainably sourced and smoked in their wood-burning electric smoker (they get the wood from the same man who supplies their eggs).
They only serve grass fed beef, free range chicken and heritage pork. All animals they use are raised without growth hormones, genetic modification or antibiotics.
The ribs are to die for—they are not overly doused with sauce but have a sweet, tangy taste and are super tender. The pulled pig is so tender that you literally do not need a knife and was so good that Park Slope Patch’s editor ate a pound all by himself.
The pulled chicken is also great—not to be missed—but the ribs and pork are far superior.
Fort Reno’s sides, which are $4 each, include burnt end beans, collard greens, mac and cheese and coleslaw and are perfect companions to the burly servings of meat.
The mac and cheese is ridiculously delicious, soft shells of macaroni smothered with a creamy blend of cheese with just a sprinkling of breadcrumbs on top. The burnt end beans have a rich, smoky flavor. The collard greens are soft and simple with a hint of garlic and vinegar and their Cole slaw is fantastically fresh, crunchy and sweet.
Their cocktails are instant classics, like the House Old Fashioned (housemade Boker’s Bitters and Rye), are strong and tasty. However, nothing is better than bourbon straight up to clean your palate between bites (or mouthfuls). Laudato makes his own sweet potato bourbon, and damn is it good.
Laudato cuts sweet potatoes into cubes, soaks them in a bottle of bourbon and then strains them out. Sitting in an unmarked bottle, it has a super dark color and looks like something that’s worth tasting, and it is. The starch-marinated liquor has a serious bite, but is definitely smoother than regular bourbon and is a tiny bit sweeter.
Although Dine In Brooklyn only runs until March 29, the cheaper price is not the only reason to go. Fort Reno has a cool southern vibe with a DIY Brooklyn attitude, and that’s because the team built Fort Reno themselves.
Gautier also owns , where Forman was the sous chef and is just up the block from Fort Reno on Union Street. Gautier said that even before they created the idea for their new spot, he was waiting for the right idea. He said that Palo Santo has become such a well oiled machine that he does not need to be there everyday.
“It was time for me to open a new restaurant,” Gautier said, explaining that Palo Santo has been open for five years and he was itching to do something new. “I’m not the kind of person that can sit back and have people do the work for me. I was getting bored and needed a project.”
And Fort Reno was indeed a project— Gautier actually built the restaurant himself, following Laudato’s own design.
Gautier, who has a lumberjack beard, went dumpster diving for supplies to transform the space, that used to be a Mexican restaurant called Maria’s for the past nine years, into a southern-style barbeque house with an urbanite bite.
The restaurant is characterized by dark and rough reclaimed wood on the floors, walls and ceiling, mixed with shiny white subway tiles and brick. Reclaimed Mason jars and tin colanders serve as lampshades for the many Edison light bulbs that hang down from the ceiling.
The left wall, above the bench that runs along it and is flanked with tables and chairs, is covered with glass mirrors.
“Literally all of those mirrors were found by diving into dumpsters on Third Avenue.” Gautier said, who was wearing a Bad Brains T-shirt, a punk-rock band from his hometown, Washington, D.C.
There is no table service, so, you either order from the bar straight ahead or step over to the cashier behind the counter on the right in front of the kitchen and place your order, choosing what kind of meat from the small chalkboard.
The crowd is jovial, warmed with drink and comforted by food. The vibe is relaxed and the over-all atmosphere is unique for a restaurant.
When asked what makes Fort Reno what is it, Gautier gave it to Patch with a simple sentence:
“We’re a southern-style barbeque house,” he said. “That’s it.”
To enjoy their special prices for Dine In Brooklyn, make sure to stop by before March 29. To see a full list of Park Slope restaurants participating in Dine In Brooklyn, .