In order to understand the name, one first needs to understand the location. One block over to the south is Hasidic Williamsburg, the most ultra-Jewish neighborhood in a borough loaded with Jewish neighborhoods (around 5). Once inside Hasidic Williamsburg you are not mistaken where you are. This is the one place in Brooklyn I’m not comfortable touring with visitors and I declined such requests in the past. Traif simply means “non-kosher”, a term not really used much even with Jews. Practically next door is sister restaurant Xixa, the Mexican version of small plate Traif. Xixa is pronounced Shiksa which means gentile girl, especially one that attracted a Jewish boy.
The Jewish husband cooks in Traif, while the Shiksa in Xixa. This type of Chuzpah would normally attract a visit from the local Rabi. Perhaps the logo of the pig with a heart in the middle on the Traif door legally prevents it from happening. And the Shiksa in the other place complicates things further. A third venture called Kish Mein Touchess would essentially entice a riot but thats just a rumor (which I’m starting here). Traif is a pork-centric establishment after-all. But you get the sense that even if you remove all the porkiness like the bacon around my drink rim Rude Little Pig (meh), this will still be a very good restaurant.
This is the type of place that expires on me over time. Its 8 years old, generating nothing but praise and a steady young local crowd. But at some point, due to the location you move on and forget all about it. Its easy to get lost in the shuffle in this town that produces at least 20 new good ones every month it seems. The menu reads Spanish tapas-like, but once you take a closer look, its tapas meets New American. And while there’s always a risk attached to a tasting menu as such, the $55 chefs tasting at Traif is build to impress.
We started with a glorious welcome, a cup of creamy chickpea soup. Then came perfectly seared scallops on a bed of mushroom risotto. The intense mushroom perfume especially elevated those scallops nicely. Its an odd one to start a tasting menu, but the heck with rules. Simpler but tasty combinations followed like King Salmon with avocado, and Squash with cheese toasts. Spicy tuna tartare over eggplant tempura was one of the more memorable early on. If you are not a fan of Sweetbread, the riff on General Tso’s here may convert you. Another hit was a gorgeously seared duck sporting a nice outer crisp.
Perhaps the most impressive dish of the night however was a seared foie gras with yukon potatoes, bacon, and sunny side up egg. A tangy sauce and proper spices tying everything together and its Siman Tov ve Mazel Tov in your mouth. Would love to come back to this.. alone. On the other hand, the worst dish was the orange ribs. Its tender! Thats the only thing I can say about it. Gnocchi with mushrooms and shaved black truffles – cant go wrong with that. Finishing, in your face style, with bacon donuts with coffee ice cream beating the weak Panna Cotta. All in all this is another GO folks!
229 S 4th (Williamsburg, Brooklyn)
Rating: 2.5 Z’s (out of 4)
Stars range from Good to Exceptional. Simple as that
Recommended Dishes: Tasting Menu