Have you heard? King of the TV Chef's Bobby Flay has opened a new restaurant in Manhattan, his first since opening Bar Americain 2005. Gato is Chef Flay's expression of Mediterranean food, drink and design. It is housed in a 100 year old building in NoHo that has never housed a restaurant before. Design-wise it takes inspiration from french brasseries with exposed brick walls and ceilings and mirrors with the antique patina on show. A large rectangular bar commands the front part of the restaurant where you can order from the full menu and enjoy drinks. My Americano cocktail was a bubbly and mildly sweet drink perfect to wake the taste buds.
The menu is divided up into tapas, spreads, appetizers and mains. The Tapas items are all small, about 2 or 3 bites. I enjoyed the all three I had, the potato, mushrooms and artichoke hearts. Note, there is a nice selection of non-meat dishes to be enjoyed here. This was followed by the my favorite dish of the night, the Octopus with tangerine, bits of crunchy bacon and oregano. I love, love, love a good octopus dish and this is definitely one of my new favorites. Octopus is one of those things that you either do well or bad, there is no in-between and Chef Flay hit the nail on the head with this dish. Also very good was the Crispy Squid (calamari) served with two sauces, a really fresh and spicy green chili pesto and a sweet and salty anchovy vinaigrette.
For entrees I tried the huge Porterhouse pork chop , moist and served over a romesco infused polenta. I liked this and would recommend it if you were very hungry because of the shear size but would probably not order it again. Also ordered was the Steamed halibut, which tasted of spring, fresh and light, this I would order again. My server recommended the Charred carrots side dish which was very tasty and vaguely reminded me of something I had at Acme.
So first impressions of Gato was positive overall. My server was extremely friendly and offered great suggestions in both food and wine. I am looking forward to trying more dishes here and having the octopus again. This will be somewhere I will feel completely comfortable sending guests for a good meal and time.