RedFarm’s come of age—cocktails, not cartoon dumplings, are the backbone of this late-night lounge and duck house, from dim sum boosters Ed Schoenfeld and Joe Ng. Below their always-packed West Village restaurant, the Chinese-twisting team unveils a witching-hour haunt clad in dim lighting, dark wood and sultry Solomon Burke tunes, where the only things tastier than the crowd-pleasing cocktails are the bar bites you’ll need to stay on your feet.
DRINK THIS: Sometimes Schoenfeld and Ng’s playfulness (see: Pac-Man-shaped sweet potatoes) can veer toward the cheesy when it comes to drinks (a rice-vodka Osakatini, really?). But when that zaniness is reined in, it yields satisfying tongue-in-cheek cocktails ($14) like the chili-spiked pineapple-mescal concoction, Smoke N Spice. The whiskey-sour update Sitting Down for Dinner gets a hit of duck in the form of silky, fat-washed George Dickel (fat is infused with alcohol, chilled and removed to give the whiskey a light meatiness) and an egg-white froth stenciled with a crime-scene outline of the bird.
GOOD FOR: Better-than-pub-grub grub. RedFarm classics like spicy crispy beef and supple pork-and-shrimp dumplings play double duty downstairs, but Ng also turns out new creations, like intensely ducky buns ($16) crammed with both roasted and grilled fowl. The turducken-esque chicken wings ($14) are a barstool spin-off of upstairs’ shrimp-stuffed chicken special: Crusty, cumin-spiked batter encases the moist combo of surf and turf, served with cooling peanut sauce.
THE CLINCHER: Like upstairs, a sole 24-seat table bisects the slip of a room, with longtime RedFarm devotees and fresh-faced West Villagers bumping elbows over frothy Sixpoint pints and steaming bok-choy dumplings. Newly acquainted tablemates flirtily trade skewers for bites of sea-bass-and-avocado tart, a buzzed intimacy missing in the busy barn upstairs. Decoy has the takeout-upgraded Chinese that makes RedFarm great, but with its boozy focus, the fun here is of the grown-up kind.—Christina Izzo