Thursday, May 23, 2013

How About Another Round, Bread Boy?

Tempura Bacon -- The Red Cat
The Red Cat

"I mean, I know we can be kind of annoying, but the Bread Boy didn't even smile at us!"
To say the least, things at The Red Cat are not going well.
By the Way, Who Paints Their Cat Crimson?
We probably should have known walking into the place that we were in for a bit of trouble for a couple of reasons:

1. It has taken us over two years to eat here because they have refused to keep the Best Thing I Ever Ate dish on the menu consistently (one of our top pet peeves), and even more tellingly,
2. Vodka was CHASED down the street by a psychic just prior to entering the place.  Said psychic was brandishing a business card and insisting that Vodka had a "a beautiful aura," a fact which a member of any waitstaff in New York City could wholeheartedly dispute.

With a start like this, things at the The Red Cat are bound to be amiss.
Naturally, Though, We Are Seated at the Date Table, So Things Are Looking Up
We begin innocently enough -- well, if "innocent" can be defined by sending the waitress away three times because we're incapable of making a decision on the cocktail menu.  Eventually, Ginger settles on the Elysian Fields and Vodka on the Thai gin and tonic, both of which, naturally, contain gin.
Vodka Apologizes for Abandoning Her Previous Alcohol of Choice, But It's Always Gin O'Clock Somewhere
Neither drink is particularly remarkable (though Ginger does gain valuable insight into Vodka's mind when Vodka sips the Elysian and spits out, "Ugh, it tastes like champagne."  "...You don't like champagne?"  "I HATE champagne.")
We Prefer to Toast Ourselves with Hard Liquor
Ginger can soon be found hunched over her menu and laughing to herself like someone who is decidedly not wrapped too tight.

"What is it?" Vodka finally indulges her after one too many seconds of letting her look certifiable.

"Clearly, I'm missing something," Ginger says, pointing to an entree on the menu: oven-roasted kid.
The Red Cat Likes to Sacrifice Second Graders
"That's goat," Vodka says, suddenly losing all sense of the absurd.  "Not a child."

Deciding against gnawing on a preschooler for dinner, we choose a sweet pea ravioli special to share, along with the baked goat cheese casserole and bacon tempura salad as appetizers.  Now, the actual Best Thing I Ever Ate dish which Ted Allen chose on the TOTALLY FRIED episode was tempura bacon by itself, but its reemergence on the menu has come along with cabralese, apple, watercress, and smoked paprika aioli.  Apparently, The Red Cat is no longer as confident in the merits of its deep-fried bacon as a standalone dish.
Um, Where's the Bacon?
As we sip our cocktails, an inexplicably-already-annoyed-with-us bread boy comes along with a giant basket of bread slices.  Not bread baskets, mind you -- SLICES.
Let the Hostility Commence
As we have made very clear, a restaurant can make or break itself on the bread alone.  And being stingy with the carbs is a surefire way to get on our cranky side.
Well, That, And Us Not Knowing How to Work the Salt Shakers
Besides being way underportioned, this bread leaves MUCH to be desired -- Ginger thinks it needs a minute to heat up in the oven, and Vodka finds that its 80-to-20 crust-to-white ratio is entirely unacceptable.  Despite our general dislike of the stuff, we are desperate for another slice in order to lap up more of the olive oil.  Yet Bread Boy is nowhere to be found.
Restaurants Need to Start Providing Us with Bells With Which to Summon Bread Boys
Temporarily saved from our wrath by the imminent arrival of our food, we distract ourselves from the lack of bread on our table by diving into the bacon tempura salad.  Three slices of the tempura-battered bacon can be found deep within the greenery of the salad, meaning that by the time they are recovered, they are completely soggy rather than crisp.
That Was a Good Game of Hide and Seek, Bacon
We try the bacon on its own first, and it is more off-putting than appealing.  Limp in texture and excessively smoky in flavor, we are flummoxed as to why this was ever called out as being special.
In Other Words, Blech
Admittedly, the addition of the greens and, especially, the cheese, improves matters a bit, but not enough to win us over.  Rather than actually creating a pleasing item, The Red Cat is getting by on the novelty factor of dredging a thin slice of bacon in batter and then deep-frying it.  But let's be honest -- they deep-fry butter at state fairs.  Gourmet invention, this is not.
Tis a Far, Far Worse Thing to Ruin a Salad with Bacon...?
...Or to Ruin Bacon with a Salad?
The baked goat cheese casserole is incredibly disappointing, based on the fact that we had both, separately but with equal enthusiasm, honed in on it on the menu.  Though the cheese itself is served in a tiny ramekin, we run out of bread on which to spread it within seconds, with a solid two-thirds of the cheese still stuck in the dish.
For the Love of Goat Cheese, Someone Bring Us a Loaf!
So Much Cheese, So Little on Which to Spread It
It is at this point that we try to flag down the bread boy.  Or our waitress.  Or anyone.
And there is NO ONE to be found.
Look, We'll Bake the Bread Ourselves If We Need To, People
We appease ourselves temporarily by consuming the sweet pea ravioli, which, while the best item of the three, is still not all that stupendous.  The pasta itself is thin and nicely cooked, but the ravioli are stuck together in one solid mass, which impedes proper dish-sharing.
Essentially, It's One Giant Ravioli
The sweet pea mixture inside the ravioli pockets is pleasing enough.  But the sauce that is spread over top, which looks like a brown butter concoction, is sickeningly sweet when we taste it solo, and, naturally, we would have preferred salty.

Especially because we are now out of bread AND drinks.

And there is still NO ONE to help us.
Empty Glasses and Bread Plates Over Here!
When a solid ten minutes (no exaggeration) pass, and we can still be found lingering over our empty (save for the cheese casserole) plates and glasses, Vodka accosts a random worker and requests that he find our waitress.  Seemingly unable to locate her, this man takes our order for refreshed cocktails and brings us a dessert menu, while Ginger practically mugs the bread boy's basket in search of more bread (which he eventually hands over, albeit begrudgingly).
Service with a Smile... NOT
Finally, our waitress deigns to grace us with her presence, of which our general reaction is "Get us our drinks and some blueberry pie.  Stat." Our refills and dessert make it to our table a few minutes later, and by this point, we are decidedly more hostile than when we arrived.  After all, if there is any surefire way to put us in a bad mood quickly, denying us more bread AND cocktails is it.
Don't You Want to Make More Money Off of Us, Waitress?  Bring Us the Booze!
We ask for the check, and try to use our failing math skills to attempt to figure out what would be considered a "bad" tip, being that our waitress disappeared for at least half an hour of our meal (however, because we never properly learned how to calculate percentages, we end up giving her like 18%.  We're such rebels).
There Is a Reason We Didn't Major in Calculus
In the meantime, we stab our spoons into the dessert, of which the buttermilk ice cream and accompanying crumble is rather delicious, but the mini-blueberry pie itself is not impressive (though the best reason we can come up with for the reason behind this disaster is "The blueberries taste funny").
Perhaps Because of That Weird Smear of Ketchup on the Plate
We pour the remainder of our cocktails into our mouths and stumble outside, remarking loudly to one another, "I am not impressed with this place."

And, needless to say, not a single staff member compliments our beautiful auras on our way out.

The Red Cat's Tempura Bacon: 2 stars

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