If someone were to ask me when my love for Bobby Flay started, I would have no idea. I think it was somewhere around the time that I started watching Food Network's Throwdown with BobbyFlay and thinking to myself whether I could ever create something so good that Bobby would think to challenge on National TV.
My obsession is fairly passive.
I do not spend hours following his actions on the internet or reading everything there is to read about him. I’ve never been to Bar Americain, although I do have the cookbook. I was fairly upset when Mesa Grill closed.
My most obsessive moment was in 2010 when I tried to follow Bobby Flay and wife Stephanie March around Northwestern’s campus. She was Homecoming Marshall and he was her arm candy. I had to Google her to find out her claim to fame, so Bobby was the real star in my eyes.
Regardless of my engagement with Bobby Flay and his happenings/whereabouts, I have a number of outlets for knowing what is new and exciting in the New York City restaurant scene. From NY Mag’s Grub Street to Zagat to Eater NY to UrbanDaddy to TastingTable to PureWow to Time Out NY to Refinery 29, I am constantly receiving updates. In a recent browse through the various emails and websites, I came across the announcement of Bobby Flay’s new restaurant, Gato. Beyond the excitement of a new Bobby Flay eatery was the fact that this restaurant would be located on Lafayette between Houston and Bleecker (this is within walking distance from my apartment).
I started salivating.
With news of the soft opening and the abundance of kale on the menu AND that Bobby got his influence from any place that uses olive oil, I knew I needed a table at Gato ASAP.
With the handy-dandy use of OpenTable.com I booked a table for two on Sunday. The only available time was 6:30, which for a Sunday night I could put up with. Knowing how much my mom liked Mesa Grill (we went to the Las Vegas iteration to celebrate our birthdays in 2010), I invited her along.
The quick recap is as follows:
- Food was delectable (is it appropriate to lick the plates?)
- The room is beautiful and feels rustic, Mediterranean, warm, and hip
- The server was able to recommend the perfect amount of food and combination of flavors
- The restaurant was mostly empty. (This was a bit frustrating because we tried to change the reservation from 2 to 3 the day prior and they said they would be unable to accommodate us)
- The blood orange/vodka/cava cocktail can be skipped.
ROASTED OCTOPUS TANGERINE, BACON, OREGANO
SCRAMBLED EGGS ALMOND ROMESCO, BOUCHERON CHEESE, TOMATO CONFIT TOAST
CHARRED CARROTS PARSNIP CHIPS, HARISSA, MINT, YOGURT
BRUSSELS SPROUTS POMEGRANATES, PISTACHIOS
KALE AND WILD MUSHROOM PAELLA CRISPY ARTICHOKES, EGG
The octopus was unreal. The tender meat paired with the citrusy tangerine vinaigrette and then complimented by the salty and smoky bacon. Woah. It was a party in my mouth!
I had read a lot about the scrambled eggs and they were very rich in flavor, but not heavy (which I really appreciated). Add the boucheron cheese and almond romesco in this dish made for a creamy and nutty mixture that I could not get enough of.
Brussels Sprouts by an all-start chef cannot be half bad. These were very very good. I would have liked a bit more crispiness in the other sprout layers, but I loved the pomegranate and pistachio as part of the dish. Considering we so often see Brussels sprouts paired with bacon or maple syrup based sauces in heavy winter dishes, this was a light rendition of a new "classic".
Another unreal dish, the carrots. Charred to perfection, my mom and I both ate the stalks (greens!)
One of my favorite parts of the kale and mushroom paella was the crispiness of the rice. It perfectly complemented the crispy artichokes which then were juxtaposed by the smoothness of the egg. My mom and I were both a little shocked about how impactful the mushrooms were in the dish. Extremely flavorful and hearty, they added a depth of flavor that I was not expecting.
We also got some dessert things -- Vanilla Ice Cream with Cracked Black Pepper and a Fromage Blanc Cheesecake (to be gluten free I had to avoid the crust) with Blood Orange sauce. Skip the ice cream and get the cheesecake.
It took us a very long time to signal to the waitress that we were ready for our bill. But considering that was the greatest downfall of the meal, I am overwhelmingly impressed.
I also did get to see Bobby Flay. He, sadly, did not come to our table, but I watched him sign an apron for a fellow patron (unintentional rhyme). Gato also features a semi-open kitchen so, if you’re lucky, you can look in and see Chef Flay at work.
There is lots more on the menu I want to try so I look forward to Gato, Part Two.