I was a little disappointed not to see any results when I searched for Traif on these boards, because it means that it is not getting enough love. What is keeping 'hounders away? Is it the ironic name? the somewhat hard-to-find crappy location by the BQE/Williamsburg bridge interchange? The fact that their daily menu hasn't been updated on their website since what appears to be their opening day?
Anyway, I twisted my wife's arm last Saturday night to go check it out, and we arrived to a nearly empty place at 6 o'clock. We went out back to the garden seating (an actual garden, mind you, with trees, flowers, a yard with a foot path through it and a swinging chair, along with a small patio that has 5 or 6 small tables. Most of the space is green), and grabbed a table with our three-year old. One other table was occupied with some local latinas and their kids - not exactly whom we expected to be dining with, but they were eating pretty enthusiastically.
The concept is sharing plates - and we ordered the following: short rib sliders with sweet potato fries (2 to an order); seared scallops with an avocado cream; sauteed sweetbreads with shitakes, asparagus and artichoke hearts; a sugar pea/tomato/grape/almond salad; and pan-fried softshell crabs.
I also ordered a cocktail - chili infused vodka with thai basil, and a tart component that I can't remember - but it was great - heat, sweet and good flavor from the herb. Only complaints with this was that it was a little light on the booze and the basil was a little bedraggled.
Chef sent out an amuse of chilled cream of asparagus with truffle oil. Beautiful.
Next out came the sliders - shredded beef in a smoky, slightly sweet bbq glaze that was perfectly fine (these were primarily for the three year old), but the sweet potato fries were a knockout - crispy, light, not oily, and soft inside, they were probably the best iteration I've had.
The softshell crabs were two rather big specimens perched atop a small heap of greens, a fat slice of tomato and a crusty slice of bread. Sort of like a BLT, but with the crab instead of bacon. At first the bread seemed too thick and dry, but when you took a forkful of all the elements it was wonderful - the crab was juicy and seasoned just aggressively enough that the whole bite was a great melange. We overheard the waitress telling the other table that the chef really focused on not only flavors, but also textural components and that was pretty clear from this dish. We gobbled that right up.
Scallops were seared beautifully, sweet and tender, and they paired up nicely with the delicate flavor of the avocado "sauce" they were sitting in. Along with the flavors, the other impressive element here was that the dish cost $16 for 4 big scallops. I've paid nearly twice as much for half as many.
The sweetbreads were tender and cooked no more than necessary. The mushrooms, asparagus and artichoke were excellent playmates and the butter from the saute pan held it all together.
My only other complaint was that the red wine I ordered was way too warm.
For dessert we had the bacon donuts - little deep fried doughballs topped with bacon and honey served with a scoop of coffee ice cream; very good; and the strawberry cobbler, which was tremendous.
Please go and check this place out! I want to be able to keep eating here for years!! The place was about a third full when we left at 7:45, but it should be packed. Sophisticated, exciting, clever food...what more do you want?
229 S 4th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211
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