The Four Horsemen, the Grand Street restaurant owned by LCD Soundsystem frontman and wine lover James Murphy, has become one of Williamsburg’s best crowded rooms at night. The wine list is exciting and ever changing, the food is eclectic and it’s the kind of place you tend to run into friends you haven’t seen in awhile. Hop on a stool at the bar, ask the server what you should drink and then order some cheeses and meats to share. Please also try the humbly named “fried potatoes,” which are an amped up version of patatas bravas, the stalwart and occasionally excellent Spanish tapa. Here they arrive loaded with smoky-sweet tomato chipotle sauce and a creamy aioli. Add a friend and you’ve got a perfect evening.
What most people don’t know though, is that The Four Horsemen is one of North Brooklyn’s best-kept brunch secrets. It’s not crowded (yet), they make a very solid Bloody Mary (available by the carafe for $30!), the wine list is exceptional and best of all, there’s nary a pancake in sight.
I don’t want to come off like a curmudgeon about brunch. It’s a meal I love, mostly because, at least for me, it tends to be a one-on-one dining experience with a close friend, and I get to really catch up and chat in earnest. I don’t, however, like spending $20 on a couple eggs, some bacon and a biscuit that is not as good as the ones I make at home. The Four Horseman is a real antidote to hulking omelettes and tepid benedicts–it’s more lunch with a nod to brunch than anything, with beautiful ingredients and influences from Italy to East Asia.
There are eggs on the brunch menu, but they come poached, over chanterelle mushrooms and stracciatella ($16), or baked in bolognese and spicy breadcrumbs ($15). The toast is sunflower rye with cultured butter ($5). There’s coffee cake ($8) and yogurt with berries and a buckwheat crumble ($14), but that’s where the brunchiness ends.
On a recent Sunday afternoon, a friend shared the ricotta bowl ($16), cucumber sandwich ($14), chilled noodles ($18) and ramp kimchi fried rice ($14). The ricotta came topped with sweetly crisp snap peas and an herb salad. It’s creamy, bright and something I will definitely try to replicate at home for the rest of the summer. I had my doubts about the cucumber sandwich, to be honest–it seemed like a sad, early summer, waiting-for-tomatoes BLT stand-in. Something about the combination of toasted Pullman, super thinly sliced cucumbers in a snappy vinaigrette and smoky bacon is a whole other sandwich, not a pale imitation. I like my bacon super crispy, and this had a bit more flop to it, but then, bacon preferences are personal.
We followed the salad and sandwich with a rice and noodle course. The chilled noodles were coated with spicy braised beef and topped with a colorful handful of Asian pickled carrots. It’s a refreshing dish that feels hearty and light at the same time. The veggie-laden kimchi fried rice is basically the best thing I haven’t been eating for breakfast my entire life. Go there, order it, mix the over-easy egg and scallions in with the savory rice beneath and forget every crappy omelette you’ve ever eaten.
No, we didn’t have brunch dessert (a disturbing and real trend), but we did finish the meal with glasses of white wine. Four Horsemen doesn’t close between brunch and dinner service (though they stop serving brunch at 3pm and the dinner menu is not available until 5:30), so if you linger into the late afternoon, they won’t try to move you along. Order another glass of wine, keep that earnest conversation going–you’re at brunch.
The Four Horsemen
295 Grand Street
Sat-Sun: 11am-1am; brunch served 11am-3pm