Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Red Cat Restaurant

The Red Cat
227 Tenth Ave. (between 23rd & 24th Sts.)
212-242-1122 (dinner from 5:30 pm)

The Red Cat purrs with informal bonhomie and good, unpretentious food. Its interior is clad in rescued wood from a falling-down barn, and butcher paper covers the tabletops. A casual crowd fills the restaurant to capacity early on; the bar also accommodates diners. Good-natured waiters proudly trot out owner Jimmy Bradley's flavorful dishes. Tempura green beans go great with drinks. Mushroom and chicory is paired with bacon and egg, and crispy fried oysters accompany truffle creamed baby spinach. Several vegetable appetizers get a cheese counterpoint and well-battered sweetbread schnitzel even comes with spätzle. The kitchen may not be flashy, but it isn't timid about intriguing flavor combinations. Paprika-roasted cod, for instance, sharing a plate with spicy escarole and anchovy-almond sauce, is another prime example of the slightly edgy yet still familiar dishes on offer here.

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