Let's talk about Flatiron. Flatiron is an area of Manhattan that's surprisingly underserved when it comes to serviceable dining establishments that aren't your big tickets. Obviously you've got some big boys: Gramercy Tavern, Upland, Cosme, The Clocktower - but there's a lack of good restaurants where you can get a reservation at last minute, and which are not located inside Eataly. With that in mind, we were psyched about the addition of Kat & Theo, a modern-Mediterranean-American-ish restaurant opened by a crew with big-time culinary resumes. On paper, it appeared to be exactly the kind of restaurant Flatiron was missing.
There's a lot to superficially like about Kat & Theo. The space has lots of big cozy booths, as well as a back room with a fire pit that feels part Mediterranean industrial dungeon (which I just made up) and part True Blood. There's also a bar area with good vibes, exotic cocktails, and excellent beers on draft. Plus, when the chefs/owners are coming from places like El Bulli, Eleven Madison Park, and Momofuku, it's tough not to get excited. And if you need a cool-looking place to stop in for a drink, it's a good spot to know about. But once you dive in a little deeper, there are problems.
Kat & Theo's approach in the kitchen simply isn't quite working. On paper, the menu appears pretty straightforward, but they tend to get cute with the execution, and the result often feels overly precious. Artistic plating and fancy presentation are fine, but the food still has to be good, and some of Kat & Theo's simply is not. We did enjoy some dishes a lot, but mostly the ones that weren't trying so hard. On top of that, their service isn't at the level it needs to be for a restaurant trying to give off the impression that they're big time.
That being said, this place has potential, and it's certainly possible they could figure the whole thing out. If you live or work in Flatiron, here's to hoping they do.
There's an Instagram account called @jacquelamerde that has become famous for trolling fancy chefs by plating junk food the way modern fine-dining looks on a plate, and this could easily fit in there. Not that this was junk, but the mackerel was dry somehow, despite being raw, and the garlic was little overpowering. It may look pretty, but looks can be deceiving.
A very sad version of the classic French salad. Literally a little pile of lettuce with some stuff on top. Skip.
Laid out in a highly stylized manner with grapefruit and hearts of palm, it's as if they blow touched all the moisture out of the lobster. Basically, it's a tiny serving and dried out lobster. Skip.
If you find yourself at Kat & Theo, order the octopus. Finally, a dish where they dehydrate seafood to an enjoyable level. The octopus is the best appetizer on the menu, it's got a nice char on it, cooked perfectly so it's chewy, but delicate, and has a ton of flavor.
Juicy slices of beef in a sweet onion sauce. We were very happy with this one.
We were intrigued by a trout dish that came with crispy ham, but we this was nowhere near as exciting as it sounded. Oh well.
The cocktails, wine list, and craft beer on tap at Kat & Theo are all excellent. Get loose.