Last night’s episode of Top Chef got me thinking about all things pig. You know what goes great with bacon? I’m going to let you in on a little secret…everything. Perhaps that isn’t a secret, and Traif knows it too. This small and semi-controversial restaurant in the south side of Williamsburg has perfected pig. Traif (or treif I believe is the right spelling) means “not Kosher” in Hebrew, and for those of you who don’t know, the south side of Williamsburg is home to a rather large Hasidic-Jew population. Awkward! And I apologize in advance to my people, but I’m a rather laid back Jew in this department, so I celebrate the pig in all it’s salty, fatty glory. I guess you could say I’m just a pig jus.
Adding insult to injury, I brought my other Jewish friend Alexis with me to this dinner. She is definitely way more Jewish than I am; she actually knows when the holidays are. Still, she sacrifices judgment for deliciousness, and thats why we’re friends. Traif’s menu is tapas-like, so they recommend that you order 2-3 plates per person. Not a problem. Baked muenster cheese with smoked pork chorizo comes out bubbling in a ramekin with crisp toast points and apple slices. So simple, yet so, so good. If you think you don’t like muenster, try this and get back to me.
Bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese; a classic hors d’oeuvre, and one of my favorites. Traif’s version is the way I imagine the stuffed dates at my wedding will be…if I ever get married. Ok, so maybe they’re the stuffed dates I’d find in heaven…definitely getting there eventually. Morbid! Anyway, if you like crispy bacon that borders on burnt (like me), this is what you want to be eating. Right. Now. The blue cheese oozes out just a little and if you’re adventurous, you might burn your mouth. We did. And we liked it.
Pasta and truffles. Speaking of marriage, those two will live happily ever after in many a chef’s kitchen. Taking something indulgent like creamy pasta, topping it off with something rich and aromatic like truffles…you just fall into it. Not literally, that would be a mess, but if you are a pasta lover, this one is not to be missed.
Now for the bad news: chicken wings. We all know how much I love chicken wings, so this was upsetting, but I think Traif needs to stick with the protein they’re better acquainted with. The wings were hefty in size, but they were covered in this tangy and sweet BBQ sauce, to the point where they were slippery to hold. Maybe I’m just not a fan of very saucy wings, but it was overkill. I couldn’t enjoy them the way I normally do.
Fortunately, the BBQ-braised short rib sliders made up for any slacking by the chicken wings. The meat was so tender and mildly sweet, it’s served on a potato roll (is there any other way?) and literally melts in your mouth. The sweet potato fries with smoked paprika aioli was a nice touch on the side too.
Here’s something I should have seen coming: dessert with bacon. This seems to be a popular growing trend in the food world, but I believe Traif might be the first ones to master the art of bacon doughnuts. You heard me! Small puffy pillows of sweet dough are lightly glazed with icing and topped with crunchy, salty bits o’ bacon. Not to be confused with bacon bits. This is the real deal. They’re sweet, they’re salty, and they’re a bit gooey, which makes them hard to resist, and totally worth it.
You better believe I’d go back to Traif – I loved it. My only advice would be to make a reservation; the place is pretty small and it gets packed on weekends. Otherwise, save your appetite and be ready for bacon!
229 South 4th Street