NOV 17, 2014 – It’s been a while since I’ve posted (and by while, I mean six months) so I’ll just get to reviewing before I find a way to not write this.
Been meaning to get to Gato, so headed over this past Friday at 10 and took a seat in what can only be described as a bustling dining room. Flay’s new spot has very clearly already made its mark given the crowd both at the tables and around the sizable bar. Here’s what we ordered…
The menu is mostly a mash-up of Spanish and Italian-leaning dishes with Bobby’s signature interpretation. It’s got a sizable bar menu on which you can select any three small plates for $17 and a kitchen section with conventional appetizers, entrees and vegetable sides. I’ve organized the slate of dishes we tried from most to least favorite:
Crab risotto with garlic bread crumbs and calabrian red chiles begs to be ordered and delivers. Bobby doesn’t ease up on the seafood – this dish is all about the crab. It’s been a while since I’ve had risotto or pasta featuring seafood that delivered that singular flavor so prominently. The little chile kick didn’t hurt either.
Heard pizza was a wise choice here, so went with the lamb sausage version which includes mint and tomato jam. Certainly not a conventional combination, but I really enjoyed both the ingredients and crust cookery. Really pleasant texture and lamb that doesn’t pull any of its gamey punches.
Scrambled eggs with almond romesco and tomato confit toast reads very simply but we found it pretty addictive. The shapeless texture was fine with us so long as it was piled on the toasts – of which there were too few. We ended up requesting a few more to clean out the dish.
The chicory salad was pretty good, especially the apricot-almond dressing mixed with some of the egg and chorizo.
This duck confit looks stunning when it hits the table accompanied with a pomegranate-filled fregula salad. Good balance of sweet, tart, fat on the dish and the duck was delicious despite being a bit dryer than I expected given its outer sheen.
The cheesecake complete with pine nuts and burnt orange was light as described by our server and pleasant with the segments of fresh orange on top.
Eggplant with oregano, manchego and balsamic was the best of the three bar snacks, the other two didn’t fare so well.
A solid New York staple brussels sprouts side dish, again with pomegranates. Nothing spectacular here.
The orata was two filets with piquillo pesto slathered in between, topped with brussels sprouts leaves, and roasted lemon olive oil. The fish was cooked properly, but I found the piquillo pesto both lacked depth and dominated the dish. The bold flavor was required for the dish, but it just wasn’t one I particularly enjoyed.
The first of the unfortunate bar snacks was the pumpkin arancini, which came off too sweet for me, particularly as my first bite of the evening. The sage pesto couldn’t save it and creamy ricotta somewhat reinforced the idea of dessert l consciously tried to subdue.
The artichoke heart with quail egg and sea urchin was my least favorite, again originating from the bar menu. Urchin and egg met the richness quotient, but neither really pops and nestled in the relatively flavorless artichoke heart, the dish never went anywhere. Also was looking for salt or something to wake it up without success.
I don’t often review from best to worst (especially because I end on a bitter note), but on my count, I really enjoyed 4 dishes, liked 4 and wasn’t fond of 3. Not a bad ratio overall, but Gato doesn’t quite knock it out of the park – especially with some of the slips on the bar menu. There are certainly things to love here, but I can’t promise a can’t miss meal.
Best Bite(s): Crab risotto, lamb sausage pizza (if you like gameyness), scrambled eggs and chicory salad