Having a Monday birthday is less than ideal, but the promise of a nice dinner to celebrate with T made it all good in the end. He did our usual, only giving a subway stop exit at which to meet him and the rest would be a surprise. I love it. Sometimes it’s close by, and sometimes a bit longer of a walk. The other thing we have is a shared list of spots we want to try at some point. It’s been a while, but he dusted off the list and picked some things from the list to plan the evening.
To start, T took me over to Copper & Oak, a spot we’d been wanting to try for a bit that apparently still has a functioning website even though it’s apparently now out of business. We made our way from there over to Boulton and Watt in the East Village, where we were able to grab spots at the bar. I recommend the Mexican Revolver. It’s like a spicy margarita, plus prosecco – a perfect birthday beverage.
For dinner, we made our way west down Houston Street. We made a right onto Lafayette, and I had a guess as to where we were headed. Bobby Flay’s Gato has been on my list for quite some time, but we never seemed to make our way there. When we walked into the space, I had a feeling I was going to like it. The smell was amazing – a fabulous combo of spices and meats. T said he picked it because the menu was so extensive and when I took a look again myself, I totally agreed.
We began with the choose three off of the bar menu (also available at the table). We went with the chorizo crepinette (apricot mostarda, pickled fennel), the beef crudo (pickled fresno chiles) and the eggplant (manchego, oregano, balsamic). Each small dish had about 3-4 bites, so just enough to get a sense for the flavor combos, and essentially tease you to want more. I think my favorite of the three would have to surprisingly be the eggplant. It was cooked perfectly, stopping shy of that mushy texture eggplant can often have. Add manchego and oregano and it’s hard not to have a winner.
We also ordered the crab risotto, which was spot on. The photo here doesn’t do it justice. It was prepared with garlic bread crumbs and Calabrian red chile, the latter which totally made the dish for me.
For our main course, we chose the porterhouse pork chop, served with tomato pan juices, romesco and polenta. The pork chop was very flavorful and the polenta was a nice change for choice in pairing. This was plenty to share if you’re getting other items on the menu (read: maximizing your visit to Gato). For a side, we went with the roasted cauliflower, which was prepared with padron peppers and agrodolce. The cauliflower had a thick, nice char and the agrodolce gave it a fun sweetness I haven’t had before that stopped shy of too sweet, balanced nicely by the peppers.
I was expecting our server to bring over the dessert menu, but instead he returned with this pistachio brown butter cake, candle a flame. T gambled on guessing my selection and I say he chose wisely. The dish was served with raspberries, peaches, and vanilla gelato. A perfect end to a fabulous meal.
Boulton and Watt – 5 Avenue A (at Houston Street) – 646.490.6004
Gato – 324 Lafayette Street (at Bleecker Street) – 212.334.6400