After months of anticipation, Bobby Flay thrust open the doors to his shiny new Mediterranean wonderland Gato last week. This is the chef's first new Manhattan restaurant in eight years, and he's made it very clear that he plans to stay on the line and cook food for the people. The restaurant was technically in "soft opening" phase over the weekend (grand opening is tonight), so the hosts did not seat the full dining room, or accept reservations, but by all accounts the place was packed. Here are a few early impressions from Eater readers that stopped by over the weekend:
Here's a rave from Eater reader Genevieve:
Walked in at 6:45 p.m. and sat at the bar. Bobby was on the line. Good wines by the glass and even better wine list. Bartenders/hostesses were super friendly and service was great. Place was a quarter full.
· Super crispy potatoes with smoked paprika and poached egg — perfect execution and super yummy. Potatoes cut small so lots of crunch.
· Crab risotto — out of this world.
· Kale & mushroom paella served in a small pan — perfect crunch on the rice and yet another egg on top. Not billed was the highlight crispy fried baby artichokes. Usually the fried baby artichoke is an oil bomb. These were perfectly crispy and truly the highlight.
· AND the halibut in the most amazing flavorful broth — almost like a lighter version of the sauces Flay is so famous for. Stupendous.
Rest of the menu looks great. Can't wait to get back and eat our way through.
And here's another early take from Eater reader Jerome:
Had a good dinner at Gato last night.And if you have any thoughts on your first visits to Gato, or any other big New York restaurant, please send them to the tipline.
· Artichoke heart was tender and a good combo with the quail egg, but the dish came off bland, especially when I was expecting sea urchin and found no signs of it.
· Mushrooms with ricotta was ok. I would have preferred a higher ratio of wild mushrooms to ricotta, as the flavor of the mushrooms was not especially intense.
· Garroxta was a great play on the usual bread, cheese, quince combo. This was second best dish in the lineup.
· The piquillo pepper stuffed with salmon was an odd combo that I did not find to be complementary.
· The lamb tenderloin had great flavor and I found myself wanting more.
· The eggplant was the standout dish on the bar menu. It had a variety of textures, somehow managing to be slightly crunchy and harder on top, yet softer on the inside without being mushy like eggplant tends to get. The texture was reminiscent of of a bacon-wrapped date.
Octopus was terrific and well-executed. The peppers were a nice contrast to the octopus, and I am happy that Flay is not scared to use spice in his dishes. The bacon added some salt and was very complementary. The octopus was tender and flavorful — nothing to complain about, but also nothing mind-blowing here.
Crab risotto was incredible and one of the best risottos I have had. I expected it to be a rather homogeneous mixture with little bits of stringy crab mixed in, but I was pleasantly surprised when the first bite had a large chunk of tender crab meat. The natural sweetness of the crab permeated the entire dish and gave the risotto, which was cooked perfectly, a very rich flavor. The breadcrumbs on top of the risotto were a nice touch.
The cauliflower texture was a bit different, not quite like the texture that roasting would have provided, but a bit meatier of a texture, kind of like broccoli. Flavor was good — peppers added some spice which was very welcome.
The charred beef was a very lean portion, not quite charred with crunch on the exterior as I had hoped. Medium-well doneness was perfectly executed, but the dish just did not impress me that much. I was expecting a nice crunchy char with some smoke or burnt flavor, perhaps with a portion of beef that was fattier and more flavorful.
· All Coverage of Gato [~ENY~]