bars
Boucarou
64 East First Street
212 529 3262

In West Africa, a boucarou in the backyard is the half-open, half-sheltered space where family and friends gather. Owner Patrice Bihina remembers how entering the boucarou meant a time to celebrate and he's managed to recreate that casual, crazy, feel-good time at his restaurant - lounge. Crazy how you say? Well, when we were there, there were loud announcements from celebs, a guy in a top hat carousing with a woman in jeans and a guy in a kilt running around with a woman in an evening gown who kept lifting it over her head. No mistaking it however; while Boucarou is clearly the kind of place people come to drink, they're not dishing up miniature nibbles and claiming restaurant status; they have a full menu. The kitchen serves up a better meal than can be expected in any lounge, with Malik's Mafe (a Senegalese peanut butter lamb stew), a hearty vegetarian udon, fish yassa, and a poulet fermier with Napa cabbage, all tasty and in generous portions. Thought has also been given to drinks and the bar has everything from cocktails such as the 21 Grammes (of margarita) and the Green Bee (granny smith apple and lime juice with Smirnoff) to St Emilion and Chateau Neuf du Pape. But lest you forget you're in a casual lounge, the wines have no vintage markings.

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