On the Town
Restaurant: Macao Trading Co.
311 Church St., TriBeCa, Manhattan, 212-431-8750
A hideout as dark, sexy and exotic as Macao Trading Co. should have every booth filled, each bar stool taken. On an untraveled street in TriBeCa, there's no signage—just the sort of in-the-know speakeasy that hipsters love to be hip to. It's got a blue-ribbon pedigree, from the people behind Employees Only, Chanterelle's David Waltuck and his sous-chefs Keith Harry and Lisa Leonard-Lee, a team that pretty much ensures impeccable cocktails and food. And the prices on the family-style dishes aren't bad, with clams, shrimp, dumplings and spring rolls for under $10. Don't get me wrong, the restaurant wasn't empty, it was just a sign of the times that we got in easily and saw empty seats around us. So take advantage of the situation and go to Macao, if you have a few bucks to spare, and luxuriate in what was designed to—and does—feel like a 1940s portside warehouse in the former Portuguese colony's red lantern district. Since Macao is now part of China, the menu has a split personality—but the influences are kept separate, not a fused offspring. Especially memorable were the Portuguese-style lamb meatballs oozing with cheese ($8), smoky chorizo and clams ($9) and "ants climbing the tree" ($18), a tangle of glass noodles with Szechuan-spicy ground pork (presumably looking like ants, but not really). Chinese-style whole black bass with ginger and scallions ($26) was wonderfully fresh and moist, and enough for three. The provenance of desserts like fried milk with honey citrus salad ($7) and red bean ice cream with a sugar cookie ($6) didn’t matter, since both were soothingly sweet. Hang out for an extra cocktail; it's the kind of place that once you've found it you want to stay.
By Julie Besonen, Paper magazine contributor
Shop: Loris Diran
3 E. 1st St., East Village, Manhattan, 212-420-1141
It's easy to hate on the Avalon Chrystie complex, that faux-fancy architectural bust at the corner of Bowery and Houston Street. Nevertheless, we've got nothin' but love for Loris Diran and his first flagship boutique, opening there today. The men's bespoke and women's high-end collections are transcendent. Inspired by the mod fashion and fitted aesthetic of the early 1960s, the menswear is a fresh take on classic looks: an expertly cut black sports jacket, tapered slim button-downs, flat-front pants in skinny or stove-pipe fits. Hand-tailored cashmere suits are at the high end of a collection that offers wardrobe fundamentals with superb subtle detailing.
Women's separates in gunmetal gray, black, deep raisin, cream and bursts of rich magenta complement the array of natural-colored menswear. Chiffon print blouses can be paired with straight-leg pants for work or with a thick silk bubble skirt for something more fun. The colors and cuts project a strong, chic femininity—not supergirly, not overtly sexy, not too conservative. Loris Diran gets it just right.
Outfitted with furniture from the '60s and a custom-made Venetian glass and cast metal chandelier, the 1,000-square-foot boutique balances modernism with softer design touches. Yes, it's crazy that the Bowery is more Savile Row than Skid Row these days, but a spirited designer with such a true sense of craftsmanship is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
By Rebecca Prusinowski, Paper magazine contributor
381 Seventh Ave., Park Slope, Brooklyn, 718-768-9463
Brook-vin, a new Park Slope wine bar from the owner of wine store Big Nose Full Body, features a good mix of domestic and international labels, half bottles galore and more than 20 wines by the glass—all $6 to $12 and listed with chatty tasting notes like "lovely bit of almond on the finish" and "cherry cola on the nose." Chef Dave Townsend's charcuterie, however, steals the show. Townsend, of Prince Street's Savoy, has created a small plates menu featuring a rotating cast of homemade smoked and spiced headcheeses, bratwursts and hams. We deferred to our waitress for a recommendation who, after admitting she was a vegetarian, pointed us to the red wine and garlic sausage served with a warm kidney bean and bacon salad ($8) and said it made her want to reconsider meat. Indeed, the sausage was perfectly tender and the bacon was fragrant, cut into crispy cubes that kept the beans good company. The space is narrow and long, with standard Cute Bar touches: a library ladder behind the bar, exposed brick, a glossy, pressed-tin ceiling (that gleams beautifully atop the sea blue walls) and prints on display from a local photographer. Pleasant surprises abound on the cocktail list, including a pumpkin-infused bourbon, a herbaceous, honey-thyme whiskey sour ($10) and a collection of homemade flavored vodkas and syrups that patrons can mix to create their own concoctions (the strawberry vodka with mint syrup is superdelish). Arrive early—seats are limited and they go quick.
By Elizabeth Thompson, Paper magazine contributor
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