First Look: Bobby Flay's Gato
It's been nearly a decade since Bobby Flay last opened a new restaurant in New York, and in that time, The Man Who Would Throw Down has had to forfeit the two restaurants closest to his heart: Southwestern-inflected flagship Mesa Grill and its follow-up Bolo, where Flay channeled the flavors of Spain. But even with those personal losses, the celebrity chef's cultural cache has only increased, from meeting grills to meeting President Obama. Now we have Gato (324 Lafayette Street, 212-334-6400), a NoHo Mediterranean restaurant where Flay is promising he'll be spending most of his days (for the foreseeable future, at least).
Zachary Feldman Zachary Feldman
The chef was circling stations and checking in at the pass on a recent visit, visible through a line of windows that look onto the kitchen. The dining room boasts oversized design elements like vaulted ceilings, blocky brick walls, and a massive centerpiece bar that encourages schmoozing and boozing, but the space still doesn't exactly feel big box.
Flay's savory menu is separated into five sections encompassing standard appetizers ($12-$18), entrees ($27-$34), and sides ($10). A platter of spreads gets its own billing, though the portion of yogurt, hummus, and white bean dips doesn't match up with the $16 price tag. Perhaps because of that bar, a choice of small tastes are available at three for $17. We had no complaints about juicy slips of lamb tenderloin sitting on top of salsa verde or the pleasantly spongy chorizo crepinette with apricot mostarda and pickled brussels sprouts, but a flash fried prawn, eaten whole and dipped in deep, herbal green romesco mayonnaise, made for an especially fine pairing with one of the four sherries available by the glass.