The Four Horsemen
295 Grand Street, Williamsburg
Oddly enough, the first thing I noticed when I walked into the Four Horsemen was the quiet; and this despite the fact that the room was filled with people, all of them talking, eating, and drinking. It’s hard these days to enter any bar or restaurant without an accompanying auditory assault, and yet here was an immediate escape from the chaos of the outside world, a respite from the constant noisiness that is life in Brooklyn.
This is no accident: The ceilings of the wine bar are slatted with cedar planks and the walls are covered in burlap, all designed to absorb the typical New York restaurant cacophony of clinking glasses, boisterous conversation, and deafening “background” music. These noise-muffling elements are so effective that my date was in awe: “It’s so perfectly designed, like the owner is super sensitive to sound.”
And, of course, he is. The Four Horsemen is owned by James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem, and while that fact alone might render this spot almost too-Williamsburg-for-words for some (parts of this neighborhood feel enough like a theme park these days without the addition of musician-owned wine bars), anyone avoiding the Four Horsemen will only be depriving themselves of one of the better new bars to open up in Brooklyn this year.
While billed primarily as a wine bar, and eschewing cocktails entirely, the drinks menu also offers a smartly edited selection of beers both in the bottle and on tap. But the wine is the thing, and the staff will help you choose a bottle or a glass in as unpretentious a manner as I’ve ever encountered. Standouts included a peach-hued, ultra-rich orange wine from Georgia (despite its color, not the state, but the country) and a roundly earthy garnet-red dolcetto. Also of note was the housemade soda; flavors change daily, but if you have the chance to try the lovage, do so. It’s like the cultishly adored Cel-Ray, only about a million times better.
But we cannot survive on drink alone (or can we? some weeks I try), and the food menu at the Four Horsemen is as thoughtfully curated as the wine list. As can be expected, the dishes change seasonally, but I’m hoping that the steak tartare, which comes with easily shattered, ultra-thin sesame crackers amid pools of buttermilk, sticks around. Similarly impressive were the crispy potatoes with a jammy tomato-chipotle sauce and pungent aioli; and a fresh and crisp sugar snap pea dish, in which the green globes are offset by Calabrian chili and crunchy cashews and showered with an abundance of ricotta salata.
So while Murphy once famously sang about fumbling in the kitchen til everything’s alright, it’s clear that there is little of that going on here. So please, nobody change a thing.