French bistro Fada has been a mainstay in Willamsburg for over a decade. It is completely relaxed and charming. Oysters, moules frites, sizzling steak au poivre – it adheres to tried and true French faves, and it does them really, really well. Looking for a moodily lit place with a great wine list to take a date? Fada! Done. But this isn’t a Date Night post. As good as Fada is, the reason we go out of our way to dine there is the music.
Back story: in 2003, I went with my dad to see music legend Les Paul play at a small club called the Iridium. Les did a sort of country/jazz/rockabilly review, with lots of vintage stories told in between. Toward the end of the show, he announces they have a random musical guest that’s supposed to be really good, “but I haven’t heard him so he might be a real bust so don’t blame me. His name is Stephane Wrembel“. He brings this bearded ponytailed guy on the stage who plays an acoustic guitar. I have no expectations. The band plays… and Stephane Wrembel just absolutely takes off. Total virtuoso. I’d never seen anyone play so fast and with that kind of swing. The whole club, including Les, was blown away. Turns out the style he was playing was Gypsy jazz, which was new to me at the time. I wrote his name down on a cocktail napkin and I’ve been following him ever since. You might even have heard him already- that’s him playing some of the more memorable music in Woody Allen’s “Vicki Cristina Barcelona.”
Stephane has a standing gig at Fada on Saturday nights. You eat well, you drink well, and you hear amazing world-class live jazz two tables away from you… for no cover charge. How can you not love this town?