This post is no longer valid. GastroArte closed as of Dec 2012. RIP GastroArte….
Gastroarte (formerly Graffit) is a restaurant in NYC that often serves food that is apparently too beautiful to eat. Chef Jesus Nunez apparently pursued a culinary career in tandem to his work as a graffiti artist. No wonder then that his food is creative, inspired by artwork, beautifully presented, and includes a range of textures and flavors. You will be very tempted to agree when you see the slideshow of images below even though you have not tasted the food. Look at this Eater NY post on how Chef Nunez transforms sketches into food.
When we went on a recent Saturday night with friends, the restaurant was not too busy and accommodated us in the main dining area. There is a also an area where only Tapas is served and a garden room (looked like it had a skylight, and seemed very green).
Reviews that I read on MenuPages and on Yelp suggested that the food presentation was much better than the taste / flavors, while some people raving about the food, but not about the service. We decided to check it out for ourselves. The modern Spanish food served was incredibly tasty and artfully presented – was definitely very pretty to look at, but that did not stop us from leaving our plates clean at the end of our meal. The only downside of the evening was that we did not like the white sangria much; too much ice perhaps, to taste the wine and the fruits.
Read on for where Miro artwork appears in the food.
We had a few tapas dishes and ordered from the regular dinner menu as well.
Tapas / charcuterie items
- Gernika peppers (fried) – the peppers were not too spicy, were somewhat crunchy and were sprinkled liberally with sea salt -i.e., tasted very much like blistered shishito peppers with sea salt crystals that one would eat at many other regular tapas places
- Plato Mixto – included a combination of salsichon, chorizo and jamon bellota (the finest grade of iberian ham according to this Wiki entry). The look and color of this dish was very appetizing as was the dish itself.
- Shrimp in a spicy garlic sauce – the presentation of this dish was beautiful. The shrimp seemed more like prawns, i.e., were large. The garlic was fragrant, not over-powering, and the sauce was full of flavor, but alas the shrimp was somewhat tough and chewy – not their best dish of the day. Apparently there are biological differences between prawns and shrimp – the former have gills that branch out, and release their eggs directly in the water instead of brooding them, besides the fact that the former are grown in freshwater and the latter in marine waters – according to this Wiki entry
From the Dinner Menu
- Study of tomato (an appetizer) – was most certainly a study of the tomato. The dish had (heirloom?) cherry tomatoes in different colors (green, yellow, orange, and red), textures (soft, juicy, and crispy) and prepared in different ways (raw, blanched, pureed, and batter fried)
- Pear salad with valdeon cheese, quince paste, and caramelized walnuts: The thinly sliced pears were combined very well with the slightly salty, melted valdeon cheese (a Spanish blue cheese), while the quince paste added soft sweetness and the caramelized walnuts added some crunch. Overall, this was their second best dish of the dinner that night
- Sea urchin soup: My friends who had this dish are avid sea urchin fans – scouting out restaurants (mostly Japanese) in NYC that serve sea urchin (uni). Their take on this soup – “The uni is very fresh”. They recommended Ushi Wakamaru and Takashi for Japanese food in general and uni in specific. Note to self and reader – need to check these out.
- Red snapper with peas, multi-colored cauliflower and carrots: The vegetables were very fresh and colorful, the fish was tasty, but nothing special for the day’s special.
- Saffron rice with squid ink and lobster: Loved the presentation of this dish – especially the corn, peas, fava beans, and roe on the squid ink. I did not try this (if only, I was not allergic to lobster!), but my friends were raving about this creamy flavorful dish. This dish is listed slightly differently on the Gastroarte site – says it includes rabbit confit, and ibores cheese.
- “Miro”: was too beautiful to eat. These are the best chocolate fritters that any of us at the table have ever had. The orange textures brought in the “(Joan) Miro” effect. For more on Joan Miro’s art and his biography – look at this page.
- “Mud”: This dish was definitely the best dish of the evening. This had white and dark chocolate crumbled like mud, and small green balls of mint, resembling moss adding bursts of freshness. There were some hazelnut stones too from what I remember in addition to tiny mint leaves. I am not a huge fan of chocolate and mint as a combination, because I often find the mint flavor too overpowering the chocolate. After eating this dish, I had to change my mind about the combination. I must also add that my photo does NOT do justice to this dish.
Are there other vegetarian items on the menu?
Yes, there are. But sorry, my vegan friends and readers, not many options for you folks.
- Eggplant with goat cheese, honey, and mustard
- Palate of kale with porcini mushrooms, herbed cheese, and roasted sweet potatoes
- Not your Average Egg with broccoli, sunchokes, and salsichon – has been highly recommended on other reviews
Anything else that I would like to try?
- To Drink
- The Beet goes On (a cocktail) – plymouth gin, domaine de canton ginger liquer, beets, lime, and celery apple foam
- To Eat
- Scallops with yellow and green zucchini, cherry tomatoes and bacon
- Monkfish with swiss chard, celery, rhubarb and wild mushrooms
- Edible Mojito – a dessert
Overall, this restaurant is worth going to again. While it does not have too many vegetarian dishes, whatever the restaurant serves is very flavorful. The food is not just “too beautiful to eat”, it is in fact too flavorful to resist leaving any on your plate.