Macao Trading Co.
Thu May 28 2009
Time Out Ratings<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5
The folks who strove for Deco speakeasy authenticity at Employees Only are trying their hand at an Eastern theme at Tribeca's Macao Trading Co. A dizzying number of props are employed to evoke the Chinese port town of Macao (and the 1952 movie of the same name). There are battered lamps, electric fans, vases and a loft, visible from the bar, bursting with surplus antiques. The details are appreciated, but the bar crowd is mostly oblivious to the designer's work, choosing instead to focus on the decadent drinks (and post-dinner-hours meat market). While most upscale cocktail bars in New York are busy perfecting classic drinks like old-fashioneds, the varied offerings at Macao are exotic and exciting to order—so much so that we wish they offered a flight of drinks. The Drunken Dragon's Milk (green-tea vodka, coconut puree, Thai basil and bitters) is like a grown-up milk shake: frothy and refreshing, but a bit too rich to finish on one's own. A cloudy brown Mah-Johng, a Rob Roy rendition featuring Scotch sweetened with a splash of vanilla liqueur, is smooth, but devastatingly strong; the gin-based Bashful Maiden, with its summery blend of elderflower liqueur, falernum syrup, lemon and pureed melon, was a mellower choice. Though it bills itself as a restaurant first, those drinks mostly overshadow Macao's comestibles. The menu from Chanterelle chef David Waltuck features an abbreviated selection of Portuguese- and Chinese-style plates available for late-night crowds. The latter category provides the most liquor-friendly options, like the popular chicken dumplings ($7) with the absorbency necessary to combat every finger of booze in your glass. Finding a spot to eat them is another story. The upstairs bar can fill up quickly with packs of bargoers bumping up against vintage mirrors as the hordes swell. The calm downstairs lounge, papered in Chinese erotica, is a far nicer place to scope the attractive patrons and enjoy Macao's menu. Indeed, the bustling crowd and enticing decor are fine distractions, but once your drink arrives, good luck focusing on anything else.—TONY