Bar Bites at Gato

Bobby Flay's newest restaurant opened last week right off the busy corner of Lafayette and Houston.  With a focus on Mediterranean food and drink, this restaurant is meant to revive the spirit of Bolo, a place Flay and Kretchmer ran together years ago right in my neighborhood.  I remember walking by Bolo, longing to go inside, until one day it suddenly closed and my opportunity to dine there vanished forever.  Well this was one opportunity I wasn't missing out on again.

I arrived at Gato right around 5:45 and the restaurant was already filled with a lively mix of business professionals and solo diners.  The big square bar up front served as the focal point for the restaurant and perhaps the reason for so many solo diners was the comfort this space provided.  To my left the big picture windows overlooking Lafayette were perfect for people watching and right in front of me was a great view of the open kitchen where I could see Chef Flay himself working the line.

I decided to focus on the "Bar Menu"which includes three tapas style sized bites for $17.  A  menu like this is a dream come true for me.  I could get a real feel for the restaurant's cooking without having to order a full three course meal.

The Beef Crudo with pickled fresno chiles was delicate and spicy.  The chiles gave a nice slow burn right at the back of my tongue without taking away from the soft lean flavor of the meat.

The salsa verde on the Lamb Tenderloin was amazing.  I would order just about anything on Flay's menu if this was listed as a component of the dish.  However the super tiny portion was almost too small to be satisfying.

My favorite bite of the night was the Artichoke Heart with Quail Egg and Sea Urchin.

Lightly fried with a perfectly poached egg and a dollop of uni on the bottom, this was salty and rich.  It actually reminded me of my recent quail egg and uni sushi at Tanoshi but with a comfort food spin.  I don't see how anyone could dislike this dish.  I didn't have time to stay  for an entree but these little bites provided me with enough excitement to plan a full meal as soon as possible.