Like all new restaurants, Trade has ambitions with beer, wine, and cocktails. The emphasis is on the wine. We had glasses of Masi malbec 2009 ($11), which had pretty good fruit and structure, and "Writer's Block" 2008 Oregon pinot noir ($13), which was nice but had very short flavor at the price, or maybe was left over from the previous night. A bottle of 2009 Clos La Coutale ($45), a Cahors, is from the French region that had malbec before malbec was cool. It is an old property, now gone over to modern technology, so the wine is drinkable only two years after the vintage, yet outstanding in fruit and color. This is a softer malbec than most Cahors, and smoother than most Argentine versions, but an excellent wine. On draft is the celebrated Delirium Tremens ($9), the original Belgian extreme beer, which in its slightly recurved snifter turns out to be pale in color without the heavy hopping of American spin-offs: a malty-rich barley wine that goes down easily. Coffee ($3.50) and decaf ($3.50) are excellent.
The best dessert is a baked Alaska ($10) that isn't flambéed at the table but is a terrific combination of passion-fruit ice cream and very slightly smoked meringue. After that, my next dessert would be a pear crostata ($9), with excellent pie crust pulled up into a purse of melting pear. Christina's ginger ice cream ($8) is set off by gingerbread biscuits with too much salt and pepper. Much the same thing happens to a little pot of Taza chocolate-mousse "budino" ($9). It is a winter problem — chefs taste all day, throwing in salt to get a little more flavor into unseasonal produce, and dulling their own palates.
Trade is loud — really loud — with dance music pounding off exposed beams and painted brick and duplex glass windows. Big tables are spaced well, and the sound produces the sensation of buzz that people like about "New York loud bars." The staff serves with warmth and enjoyment. The energy is there — perhaps the food is trying a little too hard, and should just go with it.
Robert Nadeau can be reached at email@example.com.
TRADE |540 ATLANTIC AVENUE, BOSTON (DOWNTOWN) 617.451.1234 TRADE-BOSTON.COM OPEN MONDAY–THURSDAY, 11:30 AM–10 PM; FRIDAY, 11:30 AM–11 PM; SATURDAY, 5:30–11 PM; AND SUNDAY, 5:30–9 PM