South 4th Street Just Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, Blowing Up (aka the “Traif, Mazel Tov!” Post)

South 4th Street just can’t stop, won’t stop, blowing up.

First, Pies ‘n’ Thighs, and their glorious comfort food and even more glorious pies. Then, Dram, a cocktail geek’s cocktail bar that’s been almost two years in the making. I stopped by on Friday night and management said they’d “officially-officially” been open for a week at that point.

Now, the eminent arrival of Traif, with its passion for all things un-kosher organized into an eclectic menu of small, sharable plates of deliciousness — shrimp, scallops, bacon, chorizo, pork belly, pork cheeks, potstickers, foie gras, lobster, ribs several ways — separated from one of Brooklyn’s prominent Hasidic communities by a  mere eight lanes of traffic accessing the Williamsburg Bridge.

Foot-in-mouth move? No way.

The dynamic duo running the restaurant — co-owners Heather Heuser and chef Jason Marcus — were scouting locations in the East Village and LES for Traif long before settling on this South Williamsburg gem (check out the restaurant’s blog for photos of the sleek, casual interior and stunning backyard).

They’d also checked around a bit with the community, said Heuser, when the chef and I chatted with her on Friday night. If anything, the response they got back was: “Well, that makes it easy for us to know where not to go.” (“Traif” is a Hebrew word that refers to un-kosher foods.)

….Which just means more un-kosher goodness for the rest of us. High-five to that!

TIP: Absolutely do not skip one of Traif’s signature cocktails, the Red Pearl (chili-infused vodka muddled w/ kiwi, Thai basil and homemade sweet and sour mix), which is named in homage to the Cali restaurant where Heuser and Marcus first met. If the brightness and freshness of these flavors are any indication of the duo’s plans for the restaurant, I’ll toast to that.


Pies ‘n’ Thighs, 116 S. 4th St., at Driggs St., 347-529-6090. More info here.
Dram, 177 S. 4th St.,  btwn. Driggs St. and Roebling St., 718-486-dram. More info
here.
Traif, 229 S. 4th St., nr. Borinquen Pl., 347-844-9578. More info
here.

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Finding the South of France in the Most Unexpected of Places

J’adore, as in love, love, love, the South of France, and so often, all that love has nowhere to go.

No longer! I’m utterly smitten with Pates et Traditions, a quiet little restaurant on a pleasant block of Havemeyer Street just around the corner…

Its bright interior is so charming — a mix of sturdy country woods and wrought-iron table sets, walls adorned with bric-à-brac from the region — that if it weren’t for the large picture windows overlooking the brick walls of a local printing business, you very well may feel as if you’d clicked your heels three times, opened your eyes and found yourself nowhere near New York (or Williamsburg). (This is a good thing.)

In addition to keeping true French hours — Pates et Traditions may or may not be open for lunch on weekdays, depending on the weather — the menu is so quintessentially French:

Sweet crêpes, savory crêpes, how to choose!

House wine starts at $5 a glass (and it isn’t bad); a short list of fresh salads feature Provençal herbs and olives. There are a few pasta dishes and some regional specialties — such as la pissaladiere, a Niçoise pizza topped with onions, herbs, anchovies and olives from Provence ($12) — but on this first visit, I never got past the crêpes. From a list nearly 20 deep, I settled on the forestiere ($10): strips of ham, mushrooms, garlic, parsley, in a creamy bechamel sauce, tucked in a pocket-like fashion into a traditional buckwheat crêpe.

(Known in France as a “galette,” buckwheat crêpes have the added bonus of being gluten-free and loaded with good nutrition.)

On a quiet early evening in the middle of the week, the pleasant pattering of the conversation en français between the proprietor and the single server was a pleasant backdrop to a solo meal.

In a quiet state of contemplative happiness, my crêpe and wine before me, I imagined myself sitting in all the different seats in the house eating my way through the entire menu — from the pillow seats in large, picture windows, and once the weather’s just a touch nicer, saddling up on the high chairs out front and watching the world go by.

It appears that I will not be moving out of the neighborhood anytime soon.

Pates et Traditions, 52 Havemeyer St. at N. 6th St., Brooklyn, 646-409-4019. Cash only.