When James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem announced that the band was retiring, I was pretty bummed. His catchy, dance-y tunes always make my playlist rotation, and they sound even better live, especially the melancholy anthem New York, I Love You.
I’m sure Murphy is keeping busy with all sorts of creative collaborations and appearances, but I was pretty surprised to hear that his most recent endeavor was to open a wine bar in Williamsburg called The Four Horsemen. Can great musicians make great restaurateurs? The restaurant business is such a competitive one, it’s tough for anyone to survive, but with hip,in-the-know friends like David Chang at his side, Murphy probably has the support he needs to run a great wine bar.
A modern, minimalist aesthetic defines the space at The Four Horsemen, similar to the functional pragmatism that you find at many Scandinavian restaurants. The restaurant is small and intimate, with seating for maybe 20 people in the back dining room. 8 pm is prime hour, where the bar out front and all the seats are filled, but the noise level never reaches intolerable levels, and you can still carry a conversation with your friends.
The food menu is a bit limited–it’s more of a bar menu of small plates to go along with your wine–but it’s a well-edited selection that features inventive, seasonal dishes. It reminded me of the menu at Manfreds, the casual sit-down sister restaurant to Relae in Copenhagen, which is definitely a compliment. There were so many interesting things to choose from, such as the driftless sheep’s milk cheese crostini and the beef tartare, but ultimately, the deciding factor for us was quantity, which is why we ordered the meaty pork shank, along with the snap peas.
The pork shank was fall-off-the-bone delicious and very filling, especially with the shelling beans and the side of hearty and robust zucchini and porcini mushrooms that came with it, which served our purpose of getting the most bang for our buck. The plate of snap peas was such a well-balanced mix of flavors and textures that showcased this crisp spring vegetable at its best. The peas retained their crunch, while the ricotta shavings and the cashews added a subtle depth of richness that fleshed out the dish, and the spicy tinge from the Calabrian chili gave it just the kick it needed. Even the house bread and butter was prepared with thoughtfulness. The crusty loaf was hearty and rustic, and the side of butter was mellow and creamy. So far Murphy has a hit on his hands…
I’m not really a wine expert, but I do know that The Four Horsemen specializes in funkier, natural wines that like to run wild. We ordered two bottles of red that were at a reasonable markup, the first being a medium-bodied Santenay that was interesting but still very drinkable, and the second being a Patapon that was very floral and mischievous. I loved how accessible and interesting the wines were, as well as the overall low-key, comfortable vibe of this place. It’s the perfect neighborhood spot, but it’s also worth a visit as a destination. Murphy certainly is a Jack of all trades–shutting up and playing the hits is what he does best, whether it’s in the studio or in the kitchen.
The Four Horsemen
295 Grand St (between Roebling and Havemeyer St)
Brooklyn, NY 11211