With the hectic pace of the holiday season upon us, punctual travelers are in the right to be fearful of the bottleneck that is security screening. Getting stuck behind the guy who tries to bring ammunition through the security line in hollowed-out Bibles may cause concern on a number of levels. Arrive too early, though, and you’ll find yourself with a surplus of time at the gates.
Fortunately, a number of higher-end restaurants have opened at New York’s international airports. While it is unlikely that we’ll ever see the day when people again look forward to eating at airport terminals, there are now some offerings that allow travelers to take a bit of New York with them.
Opened in 2013 as part of a revamped Delta Terminal 4 at JFK, Blue Smoke on the Road (Gate B34) is the offshoot of the Danny Meyer barbecue establishment, Blue Smoke (116 East 27th Street, 212-447-7733), that opened in 2002.
Curious about how the two would compare, I visited both the JFK and the Flatiron locations. In each case, I placed an order (at the bar) for the Blue Smoke Burger, cooked medium-rare, topped with bacon and bleu cheese. Each plate came with fries.
At JFK, the selection went from order to presentation in just under 12 minutes. So prompt was the service that the burger was still sizzling as the plate was set down. The well-executed patty was appropriately pink at the core and topped with crispy bacon that featured a well-balanced char. The onions and leaf lettuce were both fresh, yet seemingly were selected to allow focus on the beef. The plate was completed with a moderate amount of angular steak fries, each firm and crunchy.
The experience was much the same at the Flatiron location, where the plate arrived in approximately 15 minutes. Though the burger also had the same pink gradient, it was not sizzling, which allowed more time for the juices to penetrate the brioche bun. Much like the JFK rendition of the burger, the onions and lettuce seemed content to support the burger. The most obvious difference in the two experiences was in the fries. At the Flatiron location, a half of a potato had been wedged lengthwise into thirds, fried crisp, then covered in sour cream and green onions.
Repeatability: If your appetite calls for a burger and you’re fond of the offering at the original Blue Smoke, Blue Smoke on the Road will likely not disappoint.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 3, 2014