Kat & Theo, NYC
December 29, 2015
Kat & Theo is named after the Greek parents, Katerina and Theodosios, of its co-owner. It opened in September, 2015. When Linda and I went for dinner on November 24, 2015, its entrance on 21st Street, just west of Fifth Avenue, was covered in renovation scaffolding.
Its Executive Chef is Paras Shah, an alumnus of El Bulli, Per Se and the Momofuku Noodle Bar. Here you can see him officiating at the counter of his kitchen, which is open along the corridor between the front and back rooms.
We were seated in the back room, with walls exposing the original bricks. There are also mirrors and a working fireplace. This is cozy, but acoustically challenged.
Linda ordered a glass of Jean Pernet Champagne and I had a glass of Pere Ventura “Tresor Reserva” Cava. Both were served in retro shallow champagne glasses, but the portions were generous and we were off to a good start.
We ordered a bottle of 2012 Hitching Post “Highliner” Pinot Noir. This blend from several Santa Barbara vineyards had very evident pinot noir chacteristics and appeared to be meant to be drunk young.
The bread basket was passed. It included a seven-grain and an “Italian” bread.
Linda’s first course was
Seared foie gras, chestnut, cranberry
This substantial piece of foie gras was cooked just right. Its flavor was excellent so Linda ate it pure, and the chestnuts, cranberries and chestnut purée separately.
My starter was
Charred octopus, gigante bean purée, orange, oregano
The octopus pieces were nicely charred and well enhanced by the big white beans. (They were not puréed as the menu said, but seemed to be coated with a fine orange-flavored dust.) Very good.
Linda went on to
Guinea hen, maïtake, cippolini, smoked skin
She wrote: ” It had sounded appealing as not many NY restaurants serve guinea hen, but the guinea hen breasts had no distinctive flavor. They were well prepared and the accompaniments were good, but it was a rather bland dish. I should have ordered the trout, which was my first thought.”
Milk fed porcelet, wilted savoy cabbage, apple purée, mustard
The suckling pig chunks had significant layers of fat between the succulent meat. Each piece was topped with its very crisp layer of skin that was really delicious. The mustard seeds were quite mild and added a good touch. The cabbage, onion, mushrooms and apple purée were all traditional and appropriate accompaniments.
The service had been attentive, but the food was slow coming out of the kitchen and we had finished our wine; so we decided not to wait for dessert. The noise level was very high, enhanced by music, the young clientèle having a good time and the bare brick walls.
The chef clearly has talent. The ingredients, combinations and techniques were not in themselves original, but each dish was his own creation. We are glad we tried Kat & Theo, and anticipate that it will improve as it matures.