One 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.
In 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.
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.
Appetizers– 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
Mains — 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.
Dessert —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!
324 Lafayette St
Recommended Dishes – Eggplant (bar menu), Shrimp, Scrambled Eggs, Octopus, Crab Risotto, Halibut, Mushroom and Kale paella, Chocolate Crema Catalana