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Restaurant Openings

Week of December 1, 2008: Macao Trading Co., Buttermilk Channel, and Perle.

Macao Trading Co.
311 Church St., nr. Walker St.; 212-431-8750
Macao was a Portuguese colony in China for centuries, which explains the confluence of European and Asian cuisines one finds there. It also explains the unique menu structure at Macao Trading Co., the second venture from the team behind Employees Only. Specific ingredients are given a bi-cultural treatment: Portuguese-style lamb meatballs, for instance, are stuffed with cheese and served with paprika sauce; their Chinese equivalents are made with ground pork, rolled in sticky rice, and steamed. This approach is the contribution of David Waltuck, chef-owner of Chanterelle and inveterate Chinatown-market maven, and his sous-chef Keith Harry. Dishes like curried-chicken-and-okra turnovers and bacalao fried rice are meant to complement exotic cocktails like the Drunken Dragon’s Milk, green-tea vodka blended with coconut purée, pandan syrup, Chinese-five-spice bitters, and Thai basil.

Buttermilk Channel
524 Court St., at Huntington St., Carroll Gardens; 718-852-8490
Some old salts say the tidal strait known as Buttermilk Channel owes its name to the Brooklyn farmers who used to drive their cattle across it at low tide to graze on toothsome Governors Island grass. Others claim that the channel crossing was so rough for Manhattan-bound dairymen that it practically churned their milk into butter on the way to market. Apparently, Ryan Angulo, the chef of the new Carroll Gardens restaurant named for the body of water, doesn’t know who to believe. His American bistro menu includes both grass-fed beefsteak (presumably not from Governors Island) and buttermilk batter–fried chicken. Those and the rest of the offerings seem geared for these comfort-starved times: There are snacks (housemade pickles) and daily specials (duck meat loaf, roast chicken for two); there are sausages served in spike-toasted rolls, pork-cheek schnitzel, and bacon-wrapped brook trout. The space is homey, too, with a butcher-block bar and a communal table made out of ceiling beams from an old Red Hook warehouse.

62 Pearl St., nr. Broad St., 212-248-4848
Every neighborhood deserves a stylish French brasserie, and that’s what Mario Carta and chef Franck Hiorholzer intend to bring to the financial district with the opening of Perle. The dinner menu plays it straight with everything from escargot to boeuf bourguignon, to say nothing of steak frites. If that’s not French enough for you, consider the lunchtime quiche Lorraine, the croque monsieur, and the salade niçoise. They may have gone a bit too far, though, in Frenching up the name of the street from which the joint takes its nom.