Four Horsemen represents the intersection of two types of high-minded pop culture: a natural-wine bar and small plates restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, brainchild of erstwhile LCD Soundsystem leader James Murphy. For the new project, he seems to have drawn inspiration from food writer Michael Pollan’s gnomic suggestion for how sustainably-minded gastronomes should be eating to avert ecological catastrophe – “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
There’s one meat-heavy large plate to share on the short menu, which we three decided against in favour of sharing the five smaller “Plates” and some tinier bar snacks. Flavours are clean and distinct; a little chilli and pecorino boosts the crisp green flavour of snap peas; a pork sausage served with wilted lettuce greens is, unusually in New York, properly textured rather than a glorified frankfurter. A dish of beef tartare has a whiff of the farmyard about it, and reminded me of the ox tartare Simon Rogan douses with coal oil at his restaurants. There’s a lot of raw or only gently cooked food here, which may account for the almost preternaturally quiet open kitchen at the back; only a snack of patatas fritas with chipotle ketchup appears to have been aggressively cooked, and appropriately it’s the one dish which seems a bit uninspired here. Much better is a dish of pale yellow baby turnips, their luridly green leaves, and poached egg, with a little toasted grain scattered over: fresh flavours and a happy meeting of textures, crisp, crunchy and unctuous. Likewise a dessert of still-green rhubarb, lavender granite and coconut cream, which has bite, luxuriant texture and sharp-sweetness all in play.
the whole enterprise feels very European: with the blond wood screens and tables, and walls covered in cream-painted hessian, you might be in Sweden
There’s a decent selection of wines by the glass. A pink-tinged sparkling wine from Domaine Landron has a distinctly apricot flavour; a grenache-merlot-syrah blend is bright both in colour and flavour. The wines by the glass tend towards the lighter end of the spectrum; that grassy, funky beef could have used a deeper, inkier red alongside it. No doubt a bottle of such is somewhere in the extremely extensive list by the bottle, which prioritises natural wines (with a section between the whites and red devoted to “Orange + Pink”), the majority from European growers.
In fact, the whole enterprise feels very European: with the blond wood screens and tables, and walls covered in cream-painted hessian, you might be in Sweden. Or, perhaps, even Melbourne, which has drawn inspiration from Nordic cuisine and design and made it work in an urban context, like fast-changing Williamsburg. And if the notion of rockstar-owned restaurant makes you imagine gold discs and guitars on the walls and music scream and uncountable decibels, be reassured: Four Horsemen is clean and cool, and extensive research went into tailoring the acoustics so you can hold conversations with your dining companions, and hear yourself think. C
The Four Horsemen, 295 Grand Street, Brooklyn, New York, 11211 USA
+1 718 599 4900; fourhorsemenbk.com