Picture it: A cold weeknight in January, date night, and we find ourselves on the L train en route to Williamsburg without a specific plan. We emerged onto the icy streets and walked south. The people on the streets began to thin and my sensors went into high alert. It could have also been my internal honing device, also know as my stomach, bearing down on its target.
We were looking for a little place called Traif (@TraifNY, 229 S. Fourth St., 347-844-9578, www.TraifNY.com). Traif being the Yiddish word for non-kosher, this little eatery celebrates pork, shellfish and globally inspired soul food. I say, “Got it,” “Yes” and “Bring it on!”
Without a reservation, the welcoming staff sat us at a table for two in the narrow, open kitchen space seemingly converted from a Latin eatery or from a “Miami Vice” set. It is a little off-putting, but I will tell you right now this place is as progressive and culinarily exciting as it wants to be.
As it should, the evening started with cocktails: Red Pearl with chili-infused vodka, Thai basil, kiwi and citrus sour and Rude Little Pig with Lapsang-infused tequila, orange liqueur, pomegranate and a bacon rim! Together with an amuse-bouche of cream of cauliflower soup shot, our appetites were piqued for an amazing experience.
We started with baby arugula salad with clementine, grapefruit, pomegranate, feta, pistachio and spiced vinaigrette. It hit all of the food senses with great texture. This is something to definitely try at home.
Next up had me at chopped chicken livers! Served with balsamic-bacon toasts, rosemary and shallots, it is now my official way of eating chopped chicken livers. In fact, I held the extra that didn’t make it to the toast back to spread on another course or eat by itself.
When we saw buffalo milk burrata (a type of mozzarella) on the menu, we had to get it. Its arrival to the table stopped me in my tracks. Served with bacon marmalade, blood orange both in segments and in dehydrated form and roasted delicata squash over their house-made brown bread, I bowed to the bowl. And when I tasted it, honey, I was looking for the chef so I could slap him! Creamy, bright, savory, sweet, complex—that dish could serve double-duty as dessert or a wicked good cheese course.
We moved on to the meat course with pomegranate braised Vintage Farm (@VintageFarm) short rib with dried cherry and fig, red wine over risotto and strawberry-cinnamon glazed Berkshire baby back ribs. We were hitting the danger zone but just couldn’t stop going in on that short rib.
You know your eyes are bigger than your stomach when one more dish shows up you forgot you ordered. It was pan-fried potato gnocchi glistening with escargot, mushrooms, black truffle and leek soubise (onion sauce). It should definitely be enjoyed in its own right on a semi-full stomach otherwise.
Finally, as if we didn’t eat enough, we couldn’t leave Traif without having glazed bacon donuts and coffee ice cream. They were hot, light and the perfect last bite.
I am full just reliving this epic meal. Traif’s menu is seasonal, so if any of the above is calling you, pick up the phone with a quickness and get over to south Williamsburg for a forbidden experience that needs to be had again and again.
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service offering weekly and in-home entertaining packages. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations? Email her at kysha@iSCHOP.com, follow her on Twitter and Instagram @SCHOPgirl or on Facebook www.facebook.com/SCHOPnyc. For even more recipes, tips and food musings, subscribe to her blog at www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com.