A Taste of Decoy, the Party End of RedFarm's Mullet

Categories: Field Notes

Adam Robb

For the past two years, restaurateur Ed Schoenfeld and chef/partner Joe Ng have hosted pop-ups and served an abbreviated menu out of the former Laundromat below their West Village nouveau-Chinese restaurant RedFarm. Last month, they opened Decoy (529 1/2 Hudson Street, 212-691-9700), the fully realized version of the cocktail bar and restaurant that was always intended for the space. We stopped by on a recent evening to sample the subterranean spot's Peking duck prix fixe and progressive cocktails.

Schoenfeld works the room and can't help but make his presence known. "Do you use a vaporizer? My son runs a $100 million dollar vaporizer business," he bellows to a friend.

Music switches between indie and hip-hop. All of it is loud, but every selection has rhythmic propulsion without descending into monotony. "I need music!" bartender Igor Zukowiec shouts. He explains, "When I first started here, they were playing the music low, but I said I have to have loud music!"

Natural wood is juxtaposed with exposed brick, and duck ornaments and potted plants hang from a central iron bar that cuts down the center of the space. The fact that the bar runs the length of the restaurant's communal table -- the dining room's main option save for a two-top and a few stools shoved into the vestibules on either side of the entryway -- should be your clue that the focus here is on drinking and the salty, fatty foods that support the practice.

You can have a proper three course meal if you so choose, although you'll have to forgo Donald and Daffy for main courses like $45 lobster noodles, black sea bass with leeks and black beans, and jerk baby chicken, which, thankfully, doesn't have any misplaced commas but still regrettably sounds like a command. For most diners though, all signs point to the $130 Peking duck feast for two, which nets six shareable courses with portions that are fair given the $65-per-person breakdown. Snacks and small plates precede the bird. A trio of pickles (cucumbers, mangoes with mustard, and kimchi cauliflower with pineapple) is a great way to prep your tongue for puffy, gnarled fish skin chips fried shatter crisp and served with fragrant black garlic aioli. They're easy to love, and $8 a la carte at the bar.

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