Morgan Ione Yeager
When a Momofuku Noodle Bar alumnus who staged at elBulli and a pastry chef from Eleven Madison Park open a sleek new restaurant more or less across the street from the Flatiron Building — and a block from the offices of The Daily Meal — you know it's going to find a place on our dining schedule pretty quickly.
Kat & Theo (the name honors the parents of co-owner Andreas Typaldos, Katerina and Theodosios) isn't really doing anything revolutionary, but the restaurant brings together all the right elements: accomplished cooking based on popular ingredients by Paras Shah in the kitchen and Serena Chow at the pastry station, a savvy wine list (chosen by Stephen An, formerly of Aquavit), some intriguing cocktails (Michael Timmons, ex-Lambs Club), and a handsome interior — exposed brick and floors of reclaimed white oak, blackened-steel trusses overhead, comfortable leather banquettes — that will banish all memory of the urban-rustic Greensquare Tavern that was formerly on the site.
Shah's take on our ubiquitous eight-legged friend the octopus goes Greek, the crisp-edged but buttery-tender meat accompanied by puréed gigante beans (like butter beans) and hints of oregano and orange. Spain comes in with the "matrimonio" a la riojana, a little half-moon-shape sandwich of spongy flatbread enclosing boquerones (vinegar-marinated white anchovies), charred shisito peppers, and a smear of aïoli, a pungent little mouthful that recalls tapas bar flavors.
A perfectly cooked slab of halibut with fennel and a saffron broth did honor to this (potentially) delicious fish — but truly memorable was a long-cooked lamb shank on a bed of diced figs, roasted vegetables, and (really making the whole dish) little cubes of crispy smoked lamb belly. A very nice side dish that went especially well with the lamb was a plate of fried artichoke hearts with walnuts, chopped Castelvetrano olives, and lemon zest.
The flavors here are big without being brassy; the room is good-looking; the service is amiable and efficient; the wine list has some interesting choices. It's nice to have Kat & Theo in the neighborhood.