With a name like Gastroarte, you might not be surprised to find food presented fancifully. But this Upper West Side restaurant has substance to back it up — the cooking is artful as well.
I was lured to Gastroarte by a Scoutmob discount, a good opportunity to try a place with prices that seemed high. But the portion sizes — especially for dishes listed as tapas —were better than I expected. They were ample enough to be filling. My dining companion and I were seated in the back of the room, which placed us in the "garden," a glassed-in patio beneath the backside of neighboring buildings, letting in the lovely light of longer days.
Next came a mixed plate of charcuterie —Serrano ham, salchicon and chorizo — on toasted bread with tomato, olive oil and garlic. Fairly standard. The writing in the powder was a bit hokey.
Chefs often seem to like making their grandmother's meatballs. Unfortunately, these didn't reflect well on this chef's family cooking. The meatballs were too firm and lacked little flavor that made them taste homemade or special. For all I knew, I could have been eating a frozen grocery store meatball. But the tomato broth with purple potatoes, sweet potato puree and potato chips saved the dish from being a disaster. I could easily imagine enjoying that broth with some seafood.
The tomato salad was surprisingly good for something that's not really in season. The plate was filled with a great variety — sundried tomatoes, a fried green tomato, tomato puree, tomato and olive oil powder and tomato carpaccio — all of decent quality.
The patatas braviolis were stacked fried potato cubes with parsley aioli and the standard patatas bravas sauces. The potatoes are crispy and salty, as you'd hope. This is probably the closest you'll get to a traditional tapas dish here.
We decided to go with one of the dessert specials — a deconstructed lime mojito. It had layers of lime custard, rum and brown sugar jelly, lemon and lime ice cream and it was topped with sprite foam. The combination of flavors in this form is something I've never had before and I loved how greatly it stimulated my palate. It was the perfect balance of sweet and tart.
The meal ended with a chocolate and nut brownie with coconut foam as the chef's compliments. This tasted like a bad store-bought brownie and I would rather have ended on the mojito. But despite that, I liked Gastroarte. And I would be willing to come back again, even without a discount.