Tom Tom and I stopped into Macondo the other evening for a drink or three. Though it would be cruel to subject a place to an official review just a couple of days after it opened, Macondo is already showing some winning traits.
The decor verges on the kitschy, with rope baskets slung above the bar holding bananas and pineapples, but it’s also creative, since rope netting is used elsewhere as a screen to separate the dining room from the bar area. One side of the room is tricked out in the grocery-staples-as-decor trend, this time focusing on a Latin theme, while the other side of the room is a long bar. At 5:30pm when we visited, the four bar stools outside on the street were already taken for al fresco cocktails. LES shopping break, anyone?
We came more for the cocktails for the food, but the food at this pan-Latin spot, brought to you by the folks behind Rayuela, more than stands up to the drinks menu. The humita, a sweet corn tamal dressed with a black bean sauce and surrounded by generous hunks of morcila, a spicy sausage I haven’t seen on these shores before. The spicy thread continued with the zingy ecuatoriano, a shrimp ceviche made with rocotto cheese, a hidden pepper ingredient, and lots of citrus. Fortunately for the non-spicy Tom Tom the carne empanada was a nice counterpart to the heat.
There were a ton of specialty ingredients in the cocktails, some of which were unfortunately not available, like the guanabana-coco and rum frozen cocktail (Zaya rum, Kahlua Sour SOP, coco, and lime), alas. Next time? When asked how they could possibly source all these ingredients, the bartender confided: Whole Foods. Of course! We should have known the comprehensive wackiness that is Whole Foods’ buying strategy would pay off in the cocktail world.
Banana + Cachaca was as good as an alcoholic smoothie, though the chunks of banana made it hard to swallow. Acai + Ron might have been my favorite: a mix of pomegranate syrup, acai juice, mint, Bacardi Razz rum, and Sprite. Thankfully they aren’t above using Sprite at this cocktail bar.
All in all, Macondo looks like a promising place to bring friends, especially that bizarre breed of friend that always wants to meet at the dinner hour “for drinks.” Here the unsuspecting friend could be easily tricked into ordering food, even anorexics posing as vegetarians, since there are many vegetarian dishes here as well.
Cocktails for a liquid diet, food for everyone–what more could you ask for? Macondo should be around for the long haul.
157 East Houston Street
between Eldridge and Allen Streets
New York, New York