Classic Tables: The Red Cat
"Follow the art." That's what Jimmy Bradley's gut instructed him in 1999, when he chose barren West Chelsea as the home for his restaurant, The Red Cat.
Ten years later, West Chelsea is the New York art world's epicenter, and The Red Cat is one of the city's most hallowed neighborhood restaurants--even though that neighborhood is two subway transfers and a 10-minute walk away. There are three reasons why it's still our favorite all-occasion restaurant:
1) The bar. Years before the dine-at-the-bar boom, Bradley taught his bartenders how to play waiter. There's no other place we'd rather dine solo.
2) Chicken. More specifically, the flawless, impossibly crispy skin on the boneless half-chicken ($23) we (and others) have failed to replicate since our first encounter. The secret? "A little bit of confidence, a hot oven and a great exhaust system," Bradley says.
3) Familiarity. Though chef Bill McDaniel's menu honors the seasons, you can always fall back on a few Red Cat classics, including double-cut pork chops ($23) and peppery calf's liver ($21), as well as two dishes that haven't left the menu since opening night: tempura-fried green beans ($9, though we prefer the tempura'd bacon occasionally on offer) and crunchy, buttery zucchini matchsticks with almonds and a blanket of pecorino cheese ($10).
When it tastes this good, dependability doesn't grow tired.
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