Tuesday, October 14, 2008

NY Restaurant Reviews: Macondo

After 3 nights in NYC, I'm back home in Atlanta with my pants fitting a bit tighter and my wallet much lighter. The boyfriend and I had a wonderful time visiting with friends, revisiting some of our favorite NY places and activities, and of course eating and drinking far too much.

I ate at so many great restaurants that I'm going to divide them up into a couple days of writing. I'll start with Friday night's dinner at Macondo.

Macondo, named after the fictional setting in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude (how literary!), focuses on Latin street food. It's a perfect setting for a pre-partying dinner given it's NoHo location, intriguing cocktail list and long tables that easily fit 6.

The restaurant is loud, hip and crowded even at 11 pm when we ordered dinner. While that makes for a fun atmosphere, the flipside is that service was distracted at best. Our waitress missed numerous opportunities to sell us more by disappearing. The full pitcher of sangria we ordered came out as a half pitcher and she never got around to taking another drink order for anyone at our table. At least we know she wasn't trying to run up her tip!
The menu is tapas style and is broken into categories such as empanadas, arepas, ceviches and bocadillos. The boyfriend and I ordered 4 dishes to share - an empanada, a croqueta, a coca (flatbread pizza) and a bocadillos.

The carne empanada was fairly traditional with grilled steak, peppers and onions. It had a pleasantly flake crust and flavorful filling, but was pretty standard fare. A la lolita croquetas came filled with mushrooms, figs, almonds and truffle trumpet allioli. They were gooey and savory and probably the highlight of the meal.
The hamberguesa was the kitchen sink of burgers with fois gras and a fried egg. Sadly it wasn't nearly as decadent or delicious as it sounded. In fact, it really just tasted like a standard issue burger that was forgettable within moments of eating. Fortunately the yucca fries served with it were addictive and made the dish at least somewhat worthwhile.As I've mentioned before, the boyfriend loves him some offal, so he couldn't resist the siren call of the sweetbread flat bread pizza. Much like the burger, though, this dish tasted like a whole bunch of nothing. Sweetbreads are generally very mild tasting, and it's really all about what you add to them to give them some flavor, and in this case, there just wasn't enough seasoning or accouterments to make this pizza taste anything other than so-so. Don't get me wrong, nothing we had was bad, but the hamberguesa and pizza just didn't stand out as being anything worth ordering again.

In the end, I thought the dishes were hit and miss, but the setting was so perfect for a large group, late-night dinner on a Friday that I wouldn't rule it out as an option. Sometimes cocktails and atmosphere are the order of the night, and if you stick to dishes like the ooey, gooey croquettas, you'll be good to go for a night on the town.
This was my first meal of the weekend, and although it was ok, it turned out to be my least favorite. More reviews to come...

Pros: cool setting, late night hours, large tables, great cocktail list, interesting and easily sharable menu options
Cons: hit and miss dishes, distracted service

157 E. Houston St.
(between Allen and Eldridge)
New York, NY

Macondo on Urbanspoon



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