When a friend of a visiting friend suggested this restaurant, I didn’t argue. Mostly because the train in front of mine had a “door malfunction” so I arrived at my friend’s hotel late and wasn’t there for the conversation.
Still, I had heard of Gato because I love the Food Network. I knew it was one of Bobby Flay’s restaurants, and I knew he was kind of a jerk. Not as much as, say, Aarón Sanchez or Anthony Bourdain (who is not a Food Network chef but seems like the biggest jerk of them all), but as much as you’d expect a New Yorker who knows he cooks good food to be. I didn’t know he thinks he’s so great that he can charge outrageous prices for the smallest portions I’d ever seen.
It was tapas, so okay, the plates were supposed to be small. But the disconnect between what this restaurant charges for an appetizer or a 3-dish tasting appetizer and the size of the food put in front of you is ridiculous.
- $19 for the 3-dish tasting appetizer, where each dish was so small it was almost impossible to cut it into 4 pieces
- 3 dips that came with 4 silver dollar-sized (like, the really tiny runts of the litter) pitas, that we had to keep asking to be refilled and that, hilariously and infuriatingly at the same time, kept being refilled in portions of 2, despite the fact that we were a group of 4 and eventually had to ask for 5 refills
- Six Point beer for $8
The prices were much higher than I’d expected to pay when I agreed to go out for tapas and drinks, but I admit it’s not Bobby Flay’s fault if I was expecting to pay a reasonable amount for reasonably sized portions. (To note: I hardly ever go to extremely pricey restaurants, and if I do, I end up supplementing the meal with McDonalds. Also to note: I have said in the past that when it comes to food, quantity almost always wins over quality.)
What he should have been able to help is how annoying our waiter was. This guy started out on the wrong foot by not being able to take a joke. Granted, I should have read my audience, and maybe not said, “Aw, you’re too late” when he came to tell us about the menu 15 minutes after we’d arrived and already chosen, but by the time the words were coming out of my mouth, I couldn’t stop them. Even still, we could’ve recovered if he hadn’t been so clueless–making us ask every 2 minutes for more pita instead of just offering it; telling us the kitchen wouldn’t let us order more food if it turned out we hadn’t ordered enough to begin with. I find it hard to believe no one ever orders more food after they find out their appetizers were made for doll-sized stomachs.
Bobby may not be able to be at all of his restaurants every day, but he should at least take the time and care to ensure that once diners decide to empty their wallets for bite size tapas, they are treated well.
The one good thing was that we weren’t charged for all of the extra pita, which shouldn’t be something to rave about, but considering the prices of everything else and behavior of our waiter, we actually were shocked to not see an extra charge.
Maybe it’s just that I don’t belong in expensive restaurants, and again, Bobby can’t help that, but for a restaurant with 670 reviews and a 4-star average on yelp, I would have expected more–had I been there for the discussion when this restaurant was chosen. Had I been there, I also would have chosen a cheap dive bar with outdoor seating, but that’s not the point.