It's 4 p.m. on a Monday at Gato, Bobby Flay's new Mediterranean-trotting restaurant in Noho.
The staff is trickling in, new sets of glasses are being unpacked, but where's the grill master? In the kitchen, making family meal.
We surveyed the scene to bring you the lay of the land at Gato:
A. Americano cocktail: "I have the classics, while the rest of the cocktails are named after people or things. Bolo, a pomegranate sangria, brings back the ghost of the restaurant," says Flay.
B. Beech pizza oven: "I've never used this one before, but my friend Michael Symon does so we got it." He slides in shrimp with chile oil and fresh oregano, sides of cauliflower and, of course, pizza.
C. Blistered tarragon chicken: "There's no fusion here, per se. It's not Italian meets Japanese. I'm taking down the borders of these Mediterranean countries and saying, 'Wow, you use the same ingredients but in different ways, and they all work really well together." The chef's roast chicken, for instance, nods to France with crispy, goat cheese-smothered potatoes tucked underneath.
D. Flay cooking family meal: "Breaking bread with the people you're going to war with every night is really important. The other day, I made 50 Crunchburgers, my signature, and the staff got a kick out of that."
E. The plancha: "I could use it for everything: We blister padrón peppers on it, the lamb tenderloin, the chorizo crepinette. It's one of three stations I'm overseeing. I'm not expediting; I'm on the line cooking. I have a lot of things going on in the food world, but I'm a cook at heart, and here I'm having the most fun I've had in 30 years."
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