The Red Cat

Rating:

Stop #2 on restaurant week is a popular American restaurant next to the NYC High Line called The Red Cat.  It was a busy restaurant and since I arrived early, I took a seat at the bar, which was surprisingly packed.  I was pleased to find my hometown brew of Troegs on their beer menu, but disappointed to find out they did not have any hops on tap.  I guess that explains why all the others situated at the bar were sipping away at glasses of wine.

Once I was seated for dinner, I was placed in a prime location, where the party in the picture above can be seen.  It was nothing special but the empty champagne holder behind us did make me wish we could afford some bubbly on ice.  Nevertheless, we continued forward with or restaurant week special, which at Red Cat was a 3 course dinner.  Today was dinner for a party of two which meant I would not have to enjoy my meal alone, and I could try twice as many dishes (except the fact that there was only one option for dessert).  So, I could try almost twice as many dishes.

We began with the Red Romaine Salad and the Gazpacho.  I only had a taste of the salad which I can only say was average.  There was a significant amount of ricotta salata cheese on the piece I tried which may have slightly skewed the taste a bit.  The leafy vegetables were gigantic, and a bit hard to manage at first; I approached my piece with the fold technique, to try to hold in most of the cheese and walnut vinaigrette.   Despite being a fan of both walnuts and vinaigrette usually, I could barely taste the impact of their dressing.  Perhaps I merely had too small a bite, but their romaine salad was not so impressive.  As for my own bowl of Gazpacho, it was cool and slightly spicy, perfect for summer.  Unfortunately something in there (maybe the cucumber) gave it more of a bitter taste than I would prefer.  I’m usually not a fan of bitter.  Perhaps that’s only because my taste buds are not “mature” enough.  I still cleaned the plate, but it was another appetizer that was average at best.

For the entrees, we enjoyed Pan Fried Brook Trout and Grilled Marinated Hangar Steak.  The trout was quite sizable, and whatever they did to cook it, it certainly absorbed a lot of the flavor, especially of something that was sour or lemony.  Again, from my small sample, it was delicious, but overpowered what I imagined should have been the natural taste of the trout.  The mushrooms on top were even more flavor-packed than the fish.   As for the hangar steak, it was well cooked to my liking.  But, as I’ve discovered most restaurants in New York seem to like to marinate their steaks in some kind of a sweet sauce, which unfortunately is not to my liking.  Still, the meat was well cooked to my order, and the quality of it was good, not great, but good.  Not much further to describe except that it was your above average tasting quality steak.

Probably the most delicious part of the meal for me was actually the dessert, which was Vanilla Panna Cotta.  The lemon grass passion fruit puree was a bit strange to my tongue at first, but it quickly adjusted and adored the taste.  It was like a mix of pudding, ice cream, and all the enjoyable desserts, surrounded by berries, which one can never go wrong with as long as they are relatively fresh.  It was sweet and cool and a nice blend of light flavors leaving a sweet aftertaste in my mouth to finish.

The meal did progressively improve for me, but I may have come into the restaurant expecting too much.  My honest opinion, judging from the crowd and the food, is that Red Cat was probably an amazing place that many from far and wide probably raved about during the first few years of its inception; but now, it has become a consistent establishment that maintains quality standards for food but is not longer the bright shining star it once was when it first opened its doors.  A bit sad, but not uncommon in the ever-evolving food industry of downtown Manhattan.