NOLA Bound

Zoo10 reasons why this could very well be my last post…

10.  I’ve always said that if I ever get a heart attack, chances are it will be in foodie heaven New Orleans.

9.  Once Mrs Ziggy finds out the eating schedule I have in store, it may be the end of me.

8.  3 cemeteries as part of the itinerary including Nocholas Cage’s future grave may mean plenty of deep reflecting about what exactly I am doing with my life.

7.  I may choke on Mr B’s BBQ Shrimp, out of excitement

6.  Last time I cheated on Matzos I wound up in the emergency room with severe case of hemorrhoids

5.  I don’t know how I will react to being allowed to drink in public

4.  9 out of 10 mental health professionals see a direct correlation between depressed zoo animals and depressed Americans.  Maybe we should skip the zoo this time

3.  I may get killed (thoughts courtesy of 2 full seasons of Treme)

2.  If I survive #9, I may not survive the 1.5 miles I plan to walk for a shaved ice snack.  The bi@#$ will kill me

1.  Last time I biked with the wife in public I wound up in the emergency room, with severe case of hemorrhoids

Bon Voyage.  It was a pleasure!

Nola Zoo

Categories: New Orleans | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

HK Guide Update

capizziA few additions to the guide

Dessert (about time eh?) –  Kee’s Chocolates, Little Pie Company

Doner/Turkish –  Adding Turco (needed some convincing) over Hansi (need more convincing but lunch deal is good)

Farm to Table – The Marshal.  A solid Addition to the neighborhood

Pizza – Capizzi.  A nice alternative to Don Antonio

Best HK dining that’s not actually in HK – A new category for theater goers and those who want to experience some of NY’s finest just outside the area.

Tried other candidates which fell short.  Spent a lot of time at Gotham West which saw its first casualty already (Little Chef).  “An exciting replacement” according to a GWM rep will be announced soon.  In case you missed the recent post on Gotham, here it is.  Also added links to the recent “top dishes” posts.

Hell’s Kitchen Survival Guide

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Narcissa – The Cow Says Mmmm

NarcissaReaders, meet Narcissa, the cow resident at the Locusts farm on the Hudson.  Narcissa’s hobbies include walking by the river, grass, and Turkish prison movies.  Unlike Rob Lowe whose looks killed his career, Narcissa killer looks keep her at the top of the food chain, or pretty close to it.  The new restaurant at The Standard in East Village is named after her.  An honor you just don’t see these days.  We are talking about the full name, not just the first letter the way soooo many babies are named these days.  I mean if you gonna name your baby after your great aunt Ethel, Emma is not gonna cut it.  And who decided it has to be the first letter anyway.

Narcissa, just like the cow, is a stunner.  Two spacious, comfortable, nicely laid out rooms.  Perhaps a little too attractive to accept the initial offering of the seats next to the busy reception area, while the rest of the row was entirely empty.  The couple seated right after us questioned the move as well, but elected to stay.  I never understood the logic behind this practice, but no harm done.  A very interesting cocktail list with the least imaginative names:  “Roll in the Hay”, “So Pretty”.  Or fairly imaginative depending on how you look at it.  Started with a spicy offering (forgot the name) but much preferred the latter herby and refreshing “Gentleman’s Framer”.Narcissa

If you haven’t figured it out by now, Narcissa is all about Farm to Table.  Unlike other Farm to Tables that could be easily called American or American (new), the veggies here truly shine.  Juts about every menu you see these days has that one veggie main, usually the first dish, that is normally lonelier than that single sock in your sock drawer you keep just in case its partner by pure miracle comes back one day.  That lone dish in Narcissa is the star of the menu, the Carrots Wellington.

Narcissa - Short RibsLets start with the apps.  Two well cooked Short Rib pieces with pastrami spices, buttermilk and radish salad with a nice amount of mustard presence.  The pastrami wasnt evident much, but the dish enjoyable nonetheless.  The sweet “meaty” Crisped Beets with bulgur salad, apples, and creamed horseradish was similar in some ways to the short rib dish.   Just a nice combination of textures and flavors.  I never ever order beets anything as I don’t particularly care for them but this was really nice.

The highlight as mentioned was the middle course of Carrots Wellington.  Should have ordered it as the main course and the Barley Risotto as the middle as originally planned, but commitment issues prevailed (Its a carrot dish!).  The sweet, tender carrots did a great job replacing the beef in those pastries, and the accompanied veggies especially the earthy Bluefoot mushrooms elevated this thing to the next level.  The carrot dish to beat perhaps (over Pioras) in NYC

Narcissa - Carrot Wellington

The two mains were far less thrilling however.  The duck breast was lacquered, undercooked (for my taste) on the rare side, covered by a thick fatty layer, with cranberry sauce.  Just didn’t care for the overall texture and flavor.  The best part was the gingered butternut squash on the side with spiced cranberries.  Should have ordered the much better looking lamb loin.  We expected much more from the “whole” Branzino, filleted and topped with a salad that included fennel and onions that were somewhat off-putting to Mrs Ziggy.  Dried up fairly quickly by the time I got to it.  A rarity for us as we prefer the simpler way we grill them at home, with the bones and skin and all, lemon and olive oil.  Carrot fries tempura style side was the saving grace of the mains.  Just get all the carrot dishes here.Narcissa - Duck Narcissa - Branzino

Desserts were stellar.  Just about the best carrot cake (what else) you will ever eat, and an even better runny creamy chocolate tart with toasted bananas and espresso ice cream.  Yummo!

A few important bathroom tips in a place called “The Standard”.  Remembering how you got there may not be enough.  Pay attention to the tiny red light on the door.  Turn the lock all the way.. again (learned the hard way – sorry strange lady).

A fine meal overall.  Narcissa is not for everyone (I must get the Cialis commercials out of my head).  But if you want to experience something different, especially root vegetables that come to life in ways you never had before, check it out

Narcissa
21 Cooper Square
$$$
Recommended Dishes: Short Ribs, Crisped Beets, Carrot Wellington, Carrot cake, Chocolate tart

Narcissa - Chocolate tart Narcissa - Carrot cake

 

 

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Best Dishes in Hell’s Kitchen- Round 2

Pure Thai Ratchaburi Continuing the best of hell series where I feature 5 dishes from Hell’s Kitchen.  Round one can be found here.  Will try to make it a monthly feature pending approval from my gastroenterologist

Ratchaburi crab and pork dry noodles at Pure Thai Cookhouse (above)- The neighborhood’s dry(er) noodle offerings are intensifying as of late, but this is perhaps the original and still the one to beat.  The noodles are handmade in house in the Thai shophouse-like setting (in fact originally Pure’s name was Pure Thai Shophouse until Chipotle made them change its name – long story).  That dry but tender bright delicious pork, the wonderfully chewy tasty egg noodles, the sweetness of the crab, and nuttiness of the “I cant believe its not Broccoli Rabe” Yo Choy.  Add some of the citrusy broth from the bottom for added flavor.  Easily one of my faves, named after the Ratchaburi region in Central Thailand where one of the owners (the wife) came from.  BONUS:  For an app get the Ribs (below)Pure Thai Ribs

Chicken Shawarma at Azuri Café – I hear disturbing reports lately that Ezra from Azuri is cracking smiles at tourists.  I’m not sure if it means a change in attitude, trouble with Mrs Ezra, or?  This is simply not the neighborhood Ezra we know and love to hate.  With that said, the falafel is still the best in the area.  But you can get good falafel all over town, and lately its the Shawarma that’s winning me over.  After a good amount of shaving from the turning spit, he cooks it a little longer on the griddle with secret sauce and spices.  Then he stuffs the goodies in the whole wheat pita with the fresh salads in the same careful technique that made his falafel a neighborhood icon.  And in true Israeli style adds some Amba sauce (Mango based condiment), pickles, and if you want… spicy “Harif” S’chug.  You have to say “HaRIF” with the jewish spitting Chhhh if you want it though.  The result is a glorious mess of flavors thats worth the extra Shekels.Azuri Cafe - Chicken Shawarma

Trenette at Mercato.  There are quite a few excellent pastas at my favorite casual Italian in Hell’s Kitchen, but if I have to pick one, its the simple but addictive homemade Trenette.  Almonds and garlic used liberally, tomato and basil contribute to the flavor explosion of this $12 dish (yes, a $12 pasta in NYC).  Save some of the bread for this one and I dare you to leave anything on the plateMercato Trenette

Empanada mamma Spicy ChickenSpicy Chicken Empanada at Empanada Mama – Ok, I keep trying various empanadas and every time I go, I must order at least one Spicy Chicken to enjoy last.  I especially need one good one to cool me down after the Viagra Empanada, perhaps my second favorite of the bunch but for different reasons.  Hey, I don’t name them.  Chunks of tender, mouthwatering chicken slowly cooked in Mama’s special picante sauce creating this super pleasant heat.  Just like mama used to make!  Well, its just an expression, my mom has no idea what Empanadas are?

Silan at Taboon – Vanilla ice cream with puffed rice and date honey sprinkled with caramelized pistachios and topped with shredded halva, SHREDDED HALVA!  Need I say more.  I probably should.  But I’m tired!  Laila Tov!

Stay hungry Amigos!Taboon Silan

 

 

 

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Lincoln – Orange is the New Crack

Lincoln Strozzapreti
I never had crack cocaine!  Its a well documented fact that I was smoking cigarettes at the young age of 5 and wearing a patch 9 months later, but I never had crack cocaine nor do I have any idea how it tastes like.  Does it taste like Strozzapreti made with lobster coral (egg sac)?  Does it taste like lobster and scallop sausage with the look and texture of loose chicken skin?  Or does it taste like sweet lobster meat gently floating in a delicate sauce with lemony hints?  Is it like all of the above put together smelling like the sea as soon as it arrives?  If the answer is yes to any of the above, where do I sign up?

Lincoln RestaurantIs it too early to name the dish of the year? Probably.  But a few more like this bright Strozzapreti (most likely named after someone envisioned a pasta shape while witnessing a priest being strangled) this year and I will be a very happy Ziggy.  The chicken skin-like lobster/scallop “sausages” especially gave me a ratatouille moment that almost made me drop my iPhone.  Other dishes I enjoyed between two meals in order of deliciousness….

The Spongata, a superb honey and nut cake came with a satsuma sherbet that was so heavenly it could probably thrive on the dessert menu alone.  Reginette, curly ribbony pasta was perfectly cooked and topped with a chunky veal, pork and beef, would most likely satisfy any Bolognese Ragu craving.  A mild creamy Burrata with fava beans, peas, spring onions and a light minty sauce got a tremendous boost from the sensational prosciutto-like cured pork shoulder.  The only dish I didnt quite know what to make of was a trio of Mortadella, prosciutto, and a thin head cheese slice sitting on top of a puffy fried dough on some fruity sweet sauce.  Do I like it together? Separate? without the sauce?  I found myself experimenting just like the chef was.Lincoln Burrata

Every few months the menu changes to include dishes from a particular Italian region, although you could arrive in between regions as I did yesterday and still enjoy well crafted food.  As is the case with most fine Italian in town, the strength in Lincoln is with the pasta.  And long time Per Se and French laundry alumni Jonathan Benno is widely considered a pasta virtuoso.   Lincoln Ristorante is of course part of the Lincoln Center complex.  A 20 million design triumph includes floor to ceiling windows, 3 dining rooms, and a spectacular open kitchen.  The service ranges from friendly to cold depending on the day of the week.  And the open kitchen may also mean you could hear what they plan to do with you depending on where you sit…

Server just picked up first course from your table:  “Number 37 is done with the first course”

Chef:  “Lets give him a minute to gather himself and pick up his phone.  Give him some more bread”

Lincoln Ristorante
142 W 65th St
$$$$
Recommended Dishes: Strozzapreti, Reginette, Burrata, Spongata

Lincoln Ristorante Lincoln Trio Lincoln Reginette Lincoln Spongata Lincoln

 

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Ma Peche – I Luh Ya PaPi

Ma PecheI have to make this one short and sweet and to the point before the wife comes home (which means I will need to stop writing and talk to her do something around the house most likely).  The point is that Ma Peche is quickly becoming one of my midtown faves, and in true Momofuku fashion keeps reinventing itself with new formats.

On what should really be a national holiday, Baseballs opening day, I took 3 of my least pickiest co-workers for a special lunch that’s becoming a Monday norm.  One doesn’t do spicy, one doesn’t do mayo and seafood, and one doesn’t do anything that is yellowish.  A perfect group for Ma Peche’s new “Passed Plates” sort of like Dim Sum cart ladies format.  Except instead of dumplings and cart ladies you get razor clam ceviche, foie gras, and hipsters.  You can see today’s potential passed items on a piece of paper on the table, and your waiter will put a check next to each item you order (can I come with an eraser in case I eat something I don’t like?).  In addition to that you still have a handful of a la carte “Chef’s Specials” like the awesome fried chicken and the awesomer Brussels Sprouts.Ma Peche - Brussels sprouts

For what amounted to $23 per person, you simply can not get better value in NYC.  While the salad carts were circling, the Habanero Fried Chicken (half chicken $24) and Brussels Sprouts quickly arrived.  The softer, saucier than the usual sprouts with ginger-scallion, cherry, and calabrian chili surpassed Alta as the city Brussels Sprouts to beat.  Is there a restaurant in town that does not have a Brussels Sprouts dish, or kale?

Ma Peche - Pork BunsThe pork buns were the first items we picked from the passed plates and I was slightly disappointed by the overall size and taste compared to buns you get at Ippudo for the same price.  I still gobbled the heck out of this one though.  The spicy rice cakes then followed.  Ok, let me tell you something about those rice cakes.  Similar to Ssam Bar’s spicy sausage dish these pillowy “Korean Gnocchi” with just enough meat ragu and pleasant lingering heat were simply outstanding.  I may be addicted to the Momofuku rice cakes.

Then we sort of waited for the chicken wings to pass by but they never did.  The waiter asked if we would like anything else, we said “wings” and voila.. 5 minutes later we get 8 wings that tasted so much better than they looked (kinda burned).  These wings were tender, perfectly seasoned, and really some of the best wings in recent memory.

Ma Peche
At the Chambers Hotel
15 w. 56th street
$$$
Reccommended Dishes:  Fried Chicken, Brussels Sprouts, wings, rice cakes

Ma Peche - Fried ChickenMa Peche - Rice Cakes Ma Peche - Wings Ma Peche from above

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Gotham West Market Top Eats

Gotham West Market - Ivan Ramen6 Vendors and a Funeral

“In a world… where soups and salads reign lunch supreme.. and halal carts are routine… one man will rise… and change lunch!”  “A story about love, betrayal, and Ramen”  “The rise and fall of a food blogger, battling food addiction” (who finally saw his demise when a little food court consisting mostly of 6 food vendors opened on the far west side, right near the rehab clinic).  In theaters near you.

What I’m trying to say is that I’ve been to Gotham West Market a lot, about once, sometimes twice a week since it opened about 4 months ago.  I brought family, friends, enemies, co-workers and even my rabbi to the market.  As I said before, Gotham West is the most thrilling thing to happen to Hell’s Kitchen since Ezra the Falafel Nazi cracked a smile 4 years ago.

But lets get down to business.  There are actually more than 6 vendors at Gotham West.  There’s also a kitchen supply store, a Coffee shop, and you guessed it, a bicycle shop.  But for the purpose of this post I will focus on the 6 hand picked, artisanal vendors that can… well.. pretty much kill you.

Gotham West Market 2

Buttermilk Battered Chicken Sandwich at Genuine Roadside – One bite of this Chicken Sandwich and you’ll understand why its in this space.  While its not gonna be on Man vs. Food any time soon for its size, this is a very satisfying sandwich, and combined with the Shake Shack-upgrade fries, very filling.  The fried Chicken as everything else here, is made to order and the result is one heck of a juicy and flavorful sandwich.  The mayo, slaw with apples – addition by addition.   And while the tourists wait in line for the Shake Shack revelation, only to find out they need to fight another tourist for standing room eating, have a burger here that is just as good if not better, in a comfortable environment.  Owner Avroko, the firm who designed Gotham West have done a great job with Genuine Roadside, the only original vendor in the marketGenuine Roadside- Chicken Sandwich

Smoked Whitefish Donburi at Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop - Not exactly a shocker here after including the Donburi in the best of 2013 list.  Ok, confession time, Out of 8 or so visits I believe I tried everything on the menu and more, except for one little thing… the Ramen.  Thats more of a testament to the rest of the dishes here, and to a ramen filled neighborhood.  The whitefish Donburi was love at first smell with its smokiness, sweet soy dashi, cucumber,  scallion, over this delicious white rice.  Perfection in a bowl.  And a reminder that Jewish food can mesh with any cuisine.  Well, except for Gefilte Fish.. FEH!

Not a fan of whitefish?  Try the pork Donburi, or any of the Mazemens (slightly partial to the garlic), or well… the Ramen.  Let me know how it isIvan Ramen Whitefish Donburi

Pig’s Head Cuban Sandwich at The Cannibal – This may very well be the Cuban to beat in NYC.  Delicious super tender slow roasted funky pork, Vermont Ham, semi melted cheese and pickles, served warm with perfectly crispy bread.  Not to be confused with another neighborhood fave, Casellula’s fine Pig’s Ass Sandwich.  One tastes like head, while the other tastes like ass.  And while you at it, try the “Shrimp Roll” as well at the Cannibal.  Like the hotdog and lobster roll had a baby.  A beautiful healthy, delicious baby, called Shmuel, after uncle Shmuel.  Even though he was a big drunk, he would always send moneyThe Cannibal - Pig's Head

Egg Bowl at Little Chef – I’m writing this one with great difficulties after taking a glance at the pictures of this dish.  My stomach is suddenly talking to me in Armenian.  As with her popular Williamsburg sandwich shop Saltie, freshness is key with Caroline Fidanza.  In the fall the egg bowl featured fresh greens, assorted roasted veggies like broccoli and potatoes and just about the tastiest bread crumbs you will ever have.  The same breadcrumbs are featured in the winter version along with porky cranberry beans, salsa rojas (roasted red salsa).  And its another proof that everything looks and tastes that much better with a fried eggLittle Chef Egg Bowl Winter Little Chef - Egg Bowl

Bacon Wrapped Dates at El Colmado - Explosive come to mind.  This is a common Spanish tapas dish that is often uneventful for us but not here.  Its larger than usual and stuffed better with Almond and Valdeon cheese.  A classic dish from the classic team of Seamus Mullen and Gil Avital of West Village hotspot Tertullia.  Welcome to the neighborhood guys.  The dates are pictures here on the rightEl Colmado - Eel Croquettes, Date

Pork Shoulder at Court Street Grocers – Pork Shoulder, Mayo, Provolone, Broccoli Rabe, Red Peppers for much needed acidity, Pecorino Romano, on a Hero Roll.  Need I say more?  Simply Outstanding.  And if you ever in the mood for an Italian, the Mortadella, Salami, Hot Coppa, Swiss, Mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, Arugula, Red Onion, Mayo, “CSG” Hoagie Spread, Red Wine Vinaigrette, on Hero Roll as good as Italian gets in NYCCourt Street Grocers - Pork Shoulder

Gotham West Market - Ivan

 

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Minetta Tavern – Still Good, But…

Minetta Tavern - Pasta ZazaMinetta Tavern, one of New York’s most celebrated dining spots.  Home to one of New York’s most celebrated burgers, most celebrated steaks, and most celebrated “Pastas that are named after NBA great Zaza Pachulia”.  One of which wasn’t so great to us this past Sunday.

Zaza PachuliaPasta Za za was as good as ever, and the perfect “Carbonara” fix.  The longing intensified even more after having the worst Carbonara I ever had at Giovanni Rana at the Chelsea Market.  “The cooks were trained to do it like they do it there”  Meaning Verona, Italy, according to the Rana waiter.  I imagine a 5 year old who never even heard of a Carbonara since its not a Verona specialty can whip a better version than that.  But I digress.  Fresh peppery fettuccine with salty Pancetta, Parmesan, and a single fried egg – so simple yet so enjoyable.  Thank you Mr Pachulia.

But if someone would have told me that the Za Za would be the highlight of the night which also featured me doing Lady Gaga at a Korean karaoke, I would have ordered BonChon Chicken instead and saved a whole lot of money.  The famous $145 Minetta Cote de Boeuf, that huge center cut rib eye listed in every “Top Steak” list and prominently featured in magazines, TV shows, children Books have been written about it:  The Princess and the Cote de Boeuf!  Good night Cote de Boeuf!  You get the idea.  When it first arrived cut, it looked somewhat off and by the second slice, I felt like kissing it while whispering “You broke my heart Fredo”.  The fat content/fatty strips was roughly 37.8% of the meat, and surprisingly cutting it was a bit more of a challenge.  The meat itself was fine but it didnt have much of the flavor expected from a 45 day aged rib eye, and it was a tad chewy.  Compared to the Tomahawk from Costata which had all the flavor and none of that fat, this felt like a letdown.Minetta Tavern - Cote De Boeuf

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The Marshal – Farm to Hell’s Kitchen

 

Courtesy of The Marshal

Courtesy of The Marshal

Adventurous diners, ready for some Pig’s Blood Flatbread with Smoked Salmon Roe? Perhaps a decadent Mugwort Foie Gras, or how about the good ol’ Geoduck?  Well, you will find none of that at the Marshal in Hell’s Kitchen.  Not even close.  In fact chances are that you will have a hard time bragging about your meal to your girlfriends and making it sound remotely sexy.  “OMG so we had this thing called Meatloaf that was like the most amazing thing ever.  Here’s a selfie of me and the meatloaf”  Meatloaf, Pot Roast, Salmon.. there’s no conceivable way to make them sound sexy these days.  But this 6 month old 10th avenue “Farm to Table” comes as close as you can get

Processed with VSCOcam with s5 preset

Courtesy of The Marshal

Adventurous Foie seekers should still be able to appreciate the flavors and attention to detail here.  Although the menu reads like “American (Old)”, just about every item is listed almost like a paragraph describing the origin of the ingredients.  The back of the menu features 14 local farms where they source much of those items.  Almost like eating at Da Roberto in the village of Montisi, Tuscany.  Almost!  “Slow Food” models such as Roberto, and other Farm to Table places in Italy are simply called restaurants, or Trattorias. While in the US, its a concept.  But it is what it is.  And in ethnic happy Hell’s Kitchen, Solid “American” may seem like a concept in itself.

The Marshal - BreadRule of thumb – when you see bread on the menu in NYC as opposed to your typical free basket, get it.  The warm French Loaf is crunchy and soft in all the right places and will make your taste buds believe it was baked seconds ago especially for you.  Bread and butter bliss.

Chicken Liver Pate was solid.  Refreshingly fresh Caprese included sizeable sweet tomatoes, with handmade mozzarella, fresh Shushan Valley basil and balsamic reduction.  But the early highlight came in the form of the meaty, scrumptious Newfoundland Mussels.  Its creamy, garlicky white sauce is so appetizing you want to dip anything in it…bread, fingers, metrocards, anything!The Marshal  -Mussels

And then there was that meatloaf which was just like at grandmas.  That’s after grandma graduated from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute followed by a 2 year stint with the Canadian navy.  Similarly, the goat cheese and herb stuffed chicken just doesn’t get much more tender and juicy than this.  The wood oven Mac and Cheese with bacon hit the spot.  On another visit I enjoyed a perfectly cooked and juicy burger which is only available for lunch.The Marshal - Meatloaf

The sides here require a PHD in sides.  We opted for a fine bacon wrapped wedge of white cabbage, simple roasted potatoes, and a sweet potato and kale au gratin which took the gold.  And don’t leave home without trying the mammoth hot fudge, walnuts, cherry, vanilla ice cream, or any of the other two desserts featuring ice cream from the nearby Je & Jo.  Welcome to the hood Marshal.The Marshal - Mac n Cheese The Marshal - Caprese The Marshal - Sundae

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Gato – Pussy Galore

Gato barOne of those meals that stays with you for a few days.  You think about it when you have your boring scrambled eggs in the morning, and your gloomy salad with kale for lunch a couple of days later.  All while you sit there massaging your cat, with soft classical music in the background, sporting a scar.  That’s how I pictured Bobby Flay in his new Mediterranean hot spot in NOHO (cat in Spanish) named right after a cat went between his legs while waiting for the real estate broker.  But instead of sitting holding a cat, he was in the kitchen doing his thing.

Gato loungeIn a city packed with celebrity spots, one does not need to eat in one to have a great meal, and a great meal is certainly far from a guarantee.  But this was one of the most enjoyable meals in recent memory (well, 3 months is just about as far as I can go these days — thankfully I have this blog to remind me).  With the “5:30 or 10″ hotness at the moment, I opted for the senior citizen slot of 5:30.   The hostess seemed a little puzzled when I asked if “We are team #1″ much to the horror of my kids.  Perhaps to clarify the “Amazing Race” reference, I should invest in one of those Travelocity gnomes (though the dude is scarier than some people I know without makeup)

The space is quite striking.  It has a spacious, warehousy, rustic, modern but casual feel, with no neighbor in sight.  A rarity these days.  Though they are taking it slow at the moment and not trying to fill the room.  Some prefer to wait until the establishment settles down into a comfortable groove, but not Ziggy.  Bring on the uncomfortable groove.  With the entire town watching they simply can not afford to make a mistake.  Flay is in the kitchen even on a Sunday night. A slew of hostesses, 3 of which helped with our coats.  Employees outnumbering guests roughly 3 to 1.  The kids had a blast counting the number of times their water was filled (12 times, mostly when it was above 3/4 full).  Overall however, no issues whatsoever.

Gato - Small platesDrinks — Wife enjoyed the Bolo Sangria while my Negroni was spot on.

Bar menu — Pick 3 for $17.  The 11 layer scalloped potato and the duck liver were quite delectable, but the Eggplant with Manchego and Oregano solidly triumphed above the rest.

Gato - duck liverAppetizers– Expertly cooked oven roasted Shrimp with Diavolo oil, garlic chips and chile that provided a nice punch.  A notch above the average Gambas dish at a tapas joint near you.  Octopus was quite scrumptious and when you get it as tender as this, its most enjoyable.  The pungent green pepper and salty bacon bits just added to the joy.  Pizza with lamb sausage was just a good pizza with lamb sausage, missing the drama of the other dishes.  Perhaps losing to Giove is still not sitting well with Flay.  Dish of the day nominee… Scrambled Eggs! A Revelation! Almond Romesco (spanish red pepper sauce), Boucheron cheese, super fluffy eggs… what a combo. I suggest trying this without the accompanying oily tomato toasts which have no business being there except to complete the otherwise naked dish

Gato - octopusMains — Crab Risotto (enlarged app) was original and exceptional.  Mushroom and Kale paella with egg and artichokes was a glorious combination of flavors and textures, especially once you mix the sticky “Socarrat” from the bottom and the egg.  The Halibut was one of the better “white fish with red broth” dishes I’ve had, all due to the addictive saffron tomato sauce with mint and couscous and a perfectly cooked fish.

Gato - halibutDessert –Espresso soaked bread pudding – somewhat flat, more like a weak tiramisu.  Not gonna win any awards in NOLA.  Chocolate Crema Catalana with hazelnut was much more like it.  Like a sick chocolate hazelnut Creme Brulee with that toasty crust and richness beneath.  Complimentary Sherry, and exceptionally fresh Biscotti capped off this awe-inspiring meal.  I’m a fan!

Gato

324 Lafayette St

$$$$

Recommended Dishes - Eggplant (bar menu), Shrimp, Scrambled Eggs, Octopus, Crab Risotto, Halibut, Mushroom and Kale paella, Chocolate Crema Catalana

Gato Gato - lamb pizza Gato - eggs Gato - Shrimp Gato - Chocolate Gato - paella Gato up

Categories: New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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