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Jul 7, 2012 09:31 PM

JP, Rejoice - Tres Gatos is Here!: Luscious Tapas in the Comfort of a Warm Home

After a website misinfo glitch about wkend dinner hours last wkend, we finally got to Tres Gatos for dinner tonight. 5:30 Sat. (By the time we left at 7:30, all inside tables were taken or being seated, and parties were being given the option of sitting at the bar or on the pleasant outdoor patio of 3 umbrella tables.)The menu of tapas had changed since last week, so we were not able to get the dish that had brought us here (MCSlim’s CH mention of the Asian Soft shell Crab; thx so much for alerting us to this place, Slim!) but we still had a lot of good food. I love places like this. But as I type those words, i realize the irony that there are almost NO places like this anymore.Tres Gatos occupies the first floor of a Victorian house with a covered porch, right on Centre St. The book store/cafe that it was originally- still exists in the back of the house, but my guess is that, as word spreads about this small place, they are going to need alot more tables to satisfy demand, and maybe that bookstore space will make way for those tables......

When I say I love places like this, I am talking about the unique physical surroundings of a casual comfortable house,with idiosyncratic design elements and accents, but I am also talking about the fact that one feels the world of a family as one dines here. The everpresent owner, David, and his staff of women servers- are friendly and welcoming,knowledgeable about the food, and all sharing duties with ease. It’s clear that they all care about the place and that they are proud of it.

And there’s alot to be proud of. Chef Marcos, a star student and now PT instructor at Roberta Dowling’s Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, came here from a stint at Dante, but his California-bred talents are

much larger than the world of Italy. At Tres Gatos he taps his extensive knowledge of the expansive Latin food world . Alioli, romesco, chimichurri, pasilla pimenton tomato sauce, these are the treatments you will likely experience and admire as you work your way through a well varied menu of small plates. Portions are not skimpy and prices are fair.

With our very first bite, of Bibb Salad w/ Chorizo, Robiola and Spiced Pepitas, we knew there was a good talent in the kitchen. The chorizo was minced and fried with crunchy spiced pepitas to create a mysterious but delicious counterpoint to the soft tender lettuce. The moist lamb slider was slathered with flavorful soft chimichurri, and topped with crunchy bits of deep fried shallots. Quail was sauteed w/ foraged mushrooms and a rich jus. Brined, braised and grilled lamb tongue was served as slices on a bed of grits, with a 6 minute egg. (My Love scarfed it but it was not my thing; it would have benefitted by the Romesco served with the tender thick Asparagus, or any of the other luscious sauces.) Possibly our fav of all was Marcos’ version of Patatas Bravas (Listen up, Toro et al: THIS guy gets it right.) A generous portion of cubed Yukon Gold potatoes are fried medium brown and presented with a drape of two sauces: garlic alioli and pasilla pimenton tomato. Stellar. And for us, easily the best we’ve ever had. The churros and grilled semolina cake desserts of the neighboring table looked really tempting, but we were done. (Besides, we had a date to keep with some tart light soft Peach X [fro yo] and Extreme Chocolate at JP Licks!)

So, you lucky JPers you! Tres Gatos is a real ‘Neighborhood Gem’, and if we lived nearby, I would soon become a regular fixture there. What a lovely relaxing intimate spot to meet friends, and lucky you to get the extra bonus of Chef Marcos’ talents. The owners have started to get the picture of their new venture’s
success and rising future, and they have begun taking reservations, so do start going before seats become much harder to come by!

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  1. I'm glad that you finally made it over to Tres Gatos and that you enjoyed your meal there! It IS a gem. But I think that you are mistaken about their commitment to the record/ bookstore part of their buisness. If anything it looks alike they hope to expand upon that aspect with live music and a deal with the great Merge record label.

    19 Replies
    1. re: nachovegas

      That's terrific, nacho, but where are they going to put the extra tables they need?! I know, how about an enclosed wrap around porch?

      1. re: opinionatedchef

        I think they should open earlier, even for lunch, and serve the entire menu! I can't wait to try it, especially the patatas bravas and the salsas. Looking forward to flashbacks to Madrid.

      2. re: nachovegas

        Speak more of this Merge deal, please. That interests me more than tapas.

        1. re: Jenny Ondioline

          It's on their website, they also are doing monthly book clubs I think, the owners are total music geeks and have great taste in music , as well as tapas!
          Tres Gatos/ Merge Records deal!
          by DAVID on Jul 5, 2012 •
          Hey Folks! We have some pretty rad news to share with you all as we have just signed a brand new contract with Merge Records. Our vinyl shelves are abundant and prolific and spilling over right now with albums by Superchunk, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Magnetic Fields, Arcade Fire, Shout Out Louds, M. Ward, Camera Obscura and, well, so many more! As always, if you come across something y

          1. re: nachovegas

            Thanks to all involved who have visited Tres Gatos, or are planning to; and I apologize again for the misinfo on the website. As one commentator astutely noted, we restaurant folks often do get so involved in day to day operations that we forget our websites (we shouldn't).

            I wanted to weigh in briefly on the music side of things. We do wish we had more tables, and are asking for 5 more patio seats in our application for a cordial license (which will allow us to serve sangria as well as a small selection of interesting cocktails). We ARE huge music/ vinyl fans and do not foresee ever turning the small store space into more seating, even though many number crunchers would say that's the obvious move.

            In addition to the cordial license, we're applying for an entertainment license that will allow us to offer regular, minimally amplified music during our dinner service -- everything from jazz to blues to flamenco. Re Merge and other indie record labels, we're also hoping to host some great in-stores with performers coming through Boston. Please stay tuned to our Facebook page and website for details, and thanks again for giving us a try. Best regards, David (owner)

            1. re: tresgatos

              That's cool. Thanks for chiming in. I love what you're trying to do here. For most of us it's the food that will bring us back so don't take your eye off that ball. Best wishes for success to you.

              1. re: tresgatos

                I am looking forward to the food and the books!

                1. re: Madrid

                  I bought butter blood and bones there (or whatever it's called you know the one) and was happy to pay a premium for a brick and mortar store fighting the good fight. If every chow hound bought just one book from tres gatos imagine how great it could be.

                    1. re: FoodDabbler

                      37 of us post. But 362 of us lurk. That makes a full passel full if I'm not mistaken.

                      1. re: yumyum

                        You're quite right. In any case, this Tres Gatos joint looks very worth supporting for a number of reasons.

                    2. re: yumyum

                      I don't think I'm special enough to be one of 37. but I will buy a cookbook and I do know which one you mean about the bones and blood. If I'm there to consume wine and great food, afterwards I am primed to peruse cookbooks and fiction and buy more. Our turntable is retired however.

                      1. re: Madrid

                        "I do know which one you mean about the bones and blood."

                        Yum^2 and you are talking about Guns, Germs, and Steel?

                        1. re: FoodDabbler

                          Blood bones and butter by Gabrielle Hamilton. She's the chef at prune in NYC and has quite a story. I love a story.

                          1. re: yumyum

                            a story with food! add in some music.....

                            1. re: Madrid

                              And some red wine and you see my joy.

                              Back to tres gatos I have liked many tings mon but the patatas bravas are worth checking. Close to Tia pol in NYC in my estimation and those beat out any I had in spain. If people don't know Tia pol it's worth checking.

                              1. re: yumyum

                                I was assuming a nice tinto! o dos or tres copas. and I can't wait to try the patatas bravas.

                                1. re: yumyum

                                  Thanks for the Tía Pol tip. I walk the high line all the time -- it's my sub for living the high life -- and this will be a useful place to keep in mind.

                                  PS: I knew which blood&bones book you had in mind. I've eaten at Prune, although rat wasn't on the menu.

                          2. re: Madrid

                            You are one of the magical 37. Never fear.