What you need to know about me is that when I am walking in the street, my head is like a radar looking around for restaurants and I often stop to simply look at the menu, even if I already ate...What I saw when we passed next to Cata on the Lower East Side was their dining room that was open. Not the menu. That was enough for me to grab my smartphone to check the menu there as, this time, we were looking for a place for dinner. Contemporary tapas ? Why not. We had an early lunch so were fine for an early dinner and we just waited for them to open, thinking that on top of that it would be quiet.
I love that this place has a rustic feel. They have two dining rooms: one with high chairs and one with regular tables. We chose the latter that was perfect.
I started the meal with a cocktail. At Cata, they have quite few cocktails made with gin, but I wanted whiskey, so I ordered their Bowery and Stanton, a cocktail made with Bourbon, Pedro Ximenez (Spanish white wine), blood orange and lemon, that gets its name from the location of the place, in the corner of Bowery and Stanton. Refreshing, I loved the citrusy flavor.
Next, we ordered a bunch of small dishes (tapas). I admit that it was tough to pick as they have very interesting choices, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian. Here is what we tried:
Mushrooms a la plancha with shallot, parsley and lemon. Recommended if you love mushrooms.
Patatas bravas or fried potatoes, smothered in paprika and served with a whipped aioli. Always a crowd pleaser.
Fried goat cheese with citrus infused raw wildflower honey. I need to stop there: this is a must have unless you do not like or cannot have cheese. It was sublime: not greasy, I loved the contrast of the shell that was crunchy and the goat cheese, as well as the sweet and savory mix that the honey added.
Then, I ordered for myself a paella; not any paella: a duck paella made with butifarra (a Spanish sausage made with duck and pork), duck confit, foie gras and mushrooms. If you love duck this is for you. I am glad that they propose it in a small or larger size: I chose the former that was already a lot considering the other dishes we tried and the dessert that was coming. For sure, they are not lying when they call it a duck paella: there is a lot of duck, with different flavors and texture that made every bite different. There was also lots of mushrooms and the rice had this wonderful charred crust, the soccarrat, that is a must have in a paella.
Last was dessert. We went for the torrija, a classic Spanish dessert that was closed to a pain perdu or French toast, the sourdough bread being soaked in a custard before being fried, creating a fantastic caramelized crust on the outside.
The food at Cata was fantastic: not your regular tapas for the most part, I could order the entire menu! But it would not be reasonable, right? So I will have to go back...
Enjoy (I did)!
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Cata - 245 Bowery, New York, NY 10002