The Red Cat
 

House-made pappardelle

 

Light tempura of green beans

Experience the cuisine that’s enamored Chelsea for two decades

By Erik Mathes

Opened by veteran chef Jimmy Bradley in 1999, this Tenth Avenue restaurant has become a neighborhood fixture for its unique brand of classic Mediterranean-inspired modern American cuisine, and is one of few things that hasn’t changed much in the area over the past two decades. Bradley, who has been featured everywhere from Bon Appetit and Food & Wine to The New York Times and even Top Chef: Masters, aspired for The Red Cat to imbue a down-to-earth vibe on its patrons, in spite of the fact you can find things like steak tartare, foie gras, and truffle dust throughout the menu. And, you’ll be happy to know, he succeeded.

In a city where it sometimes feels like the restaurants are paying you to be there, you’ll find it refreshing that The Red Cat’s friendly and deeply knowledgeable servers take the time to describe dishes in detail and make solid recommendations. The decor, with white wall slats, red and wood seating, and little red accents and pieces of history throughout the space, adds an air of nostalgia and romance to the interior that make it ideal for dates.

Then there’s the food—like octopus a la plancha with ‘nduja, crispy fingerlings and salsa verde, onion tartlet with sottocenere cheese and black truffle, and house-made pappardelle with oxtail ragu (pictured above left)—that’ll keep you coming back (or overordering for some quality leftovers) due to the abundance of enticing options, including plenty for vegetarians.
If this is your first Red Cat rodeo, start with the staples that have been on the menu from the beginning: the light tempura of green beans with sweet hot mustard (pictured above right), and the quick sauté of zucchini with toasted almonds and Pecorino—the zucchini is sliced julienne and everything together tastes like buttered popcorn in a strange-yet-beautiful way. The house-made pastas are also a must, like the pumpkin agnolotti with butternut squash, caponata, pumpkin seed, and sage. The signature entrée is the local skate, served with roasted and puréed cauliflower, chanterelles, bacon, and brown butter this season.

For dessert, add even more delight to your life with an apricot–brown butter tart with orange rosemary ice cream and almonds. Alternatively, opt for a classic from The Red Cat’s cookbook, the pistachio semifreddo, (pictured below), with table-poured chocolate sauce and fudge brownie, which will remind you that though it’s been around for almost 20 years, there’s never been a better time to check out this chill Chelsea spot.

Pistachio Semifreddo

hours

Dinner: Mon–Sat: 5 PM–11 PM; Sun 5 PM–10 PM
Lunch: Mon–Fri noon–2:30 PM
Brunch: Sat–Sun 11:30 AM–2:45 PM

price range

$27 (pan-seared calves liver) to $36 (Long Island duck breast)
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