Seeing as I grew up in the heart of Texas bbq country, I'd been eager to get in and try the fare at Wexler's, the new Financial District spot with cuisine "informed by" cooking traditions of the American South and Southwest. Now I knew better than to expect bbq itself, especially since last spring I took Wexler's chef Charlie Kleinman back to aforementioned home for an inspirational little two-day bbq tour, where I got familiar with Kleinman's concept, which is not easily summarized. Certainly "bbq-informed" is not the most romantic sounding culinary description. Luckily, none of that matters, as the final result speaks for itself. No, it's not bbq--not even close--but what I had was very good.
But what to drink with such unique dishes as spicy BBQ Scotch Eggs, smoked short ribs with bbq au jus, and heirloom tomato salad with smoked pepper romesco sauce and beef tongue croquets (not on the menu, but an amazing dish)? Well, I had to start with the celebrated mint julep. Before Wexler's opened, this drink was previewed as being a "5-minute" mint julep, suggesting some sort of seriousness above and beyond the normal julep. I guess they've dropped that moniker, though, because when I asked the waiter why the cocktail requires 5 minutes to make, he just said, "oh, the bartender's new." Nevertheless, it was well made and slurpy good. I downed it quickly and was thirsty for more. The wine list is all American, but I didn't really find anything tempting. Besides, in Texas you drink beer with 'cue, and beer with non-'cue as well. The beer list was fine. However, you can never go wrong with Racer 5 IPA, which washed down the rest of my meal quite adequately. Overall, I'd love to see the drink list evolve, though, to be as lively and imaginitive as Kleinman's food.
One note about Wexler's. Don't miss dessert. I had no idea Kleinman was much of a baker, but his sour cream Gravenstein apple and bourbon banana cream pies were amazing. Not very sweet and bursting with flavor.