The Little Flame, Bay Ridge’s only barbecue restaurant, is making a big impact with its down-home specialties.
The eatery, which took over from Uncle Jimmy’s Barbecue about a year ago at the corner of Fourth Avenue and 88th Street, has reinvented the offerings, combining a broad array of barbecue dishes – made from Uncle Jimmy’s original recipes – with a selection of “diner-style” dishes from salads to wings to burgers, plus an appetizing selection of breakfasts.
My companion and I sampled several of the restaurant’s specialties and were impressed by the immaculate freshness of the ingredients, from the berries perched atop the Red, White and Blue French Toast ($10.45) to the bed of veggies upon which the Cajun Chicken ($12.95) was nestled.
Indeed, the fruity French toast featured a thick slab of bread piled high with bananas, strawberries and blueberries, while another offering, the Chocolate Nut Blast French Toast ($10.45) teased our chocolate craving with Nutella, walnuts and banana slices. And, yes, it was as good as it sounds!
The aforementioned Cajun Chicken was also scrumptious, beautifully cross-hatched from the grill, flavored with a spicy marinade, and paired with thick chunks of perfectly cooked zucchini, red and green peppers, and broccoli.
“We make everything from scratch,” explained Michele Hughes, the restaurant manager, “and we cook throughout the day.”
We sampled two of the Little Flame’s salads, the Grilled Portobello Mushroom Salad ($9.95), which combined meaty strips of mushroom with roasted red peppers, gorgeously green slices of avocado and tomato on a bed of mesclun, and the Mango & Grilled Shrimp Salad ($16.95), which married slices of strawberry, mango cubes, tangy goat cheese, rings of red onion and the shrimp, also on a bed of mesclun.
Then, we dug into an array of wings ($8 for six; $14 for 12). The Little Flame offers five varieties, and we were particularly enamored of the citrusy Lemon Oreganata, the sticky, sweet Teriyaki and the tongue-teasing Spicy ones.
The Little Flame Burger ($12.75 with French fries or salad) is eight ounces of goodness, sandwiched in a brioche roll and towering with avocado slices, melted cheddar, crispy bacon and sweet and tender caramelized onion. Way more than a mouthful, this is a filling and satisfying main dish that is the epitome of classic comfort food.
We also sampled the Chicken & Ribs BBQ combo ($22), which includes half a chicken (we tried the Lemon Oreganata and were delighted by the light, citrusy flavor contrasting with the smoky taste of the barbecue) as well as an ample portion of sweet, meaty, fall-off-the-bone-tender ribs that will have you licking your fingers, plus two sides and soup or salad. This dish is truly enough for two, maybe with leftovers!
Finally, we washed everything down with tall glasses of Sangria ($8; $5, Friday-Sunday special), and enjoyed both the red and white wine varieties, studded with fruit and quintessentially refreshing.
Owner Hermelo Galindo has worked in restaurants since coming to the United States in 1990, and was hard at work in the kitchen during our visit, making sure everything was just so. While the diner repertoire was something he picked up over the past 25 years, he decided to keep the BBQ aspect of the restaurant because, as Hughes said, “If something works, don’t change it.”
Nonetheless, there will be changes coming to the Little Flame—an expanded menu, for one thing. The restaurant also takes special requests, customizing dishes on request when possible, and to accommodate allergies. And, weekend brunch, said Galindo, is likely on the horizon. Now, that’s something more to look forward to.
THE LITTLE FLAME
8727 Fourth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209
Monday-Saturday, 6 a.m.-10 p.m.
Sunday, 6 a.m.-9 p.m.