THE GASTRO BAR3/18/2013
345 West 35th Street
New York, NY 10018
Looking for an interesting place to get dinner that wasn't too far from a birthday party at what would be one of New York's creepiest karaoke bars, Bro and I had relatively little to choose from. Midtown on a Saturday night tends isn't the least crowded neighborhood you can come up with. But then we found The Gastro Bar, a small plates place inside the Tryp Hotel. Tryp is Wyndham's answer to W's Aloft. Trendy, younger, and less expensive than it's big brother. The Gastro Bar is their restaurant and it was deserted.
Part of the reason that The Gastro bar was virtually empty is because there's no sign telling anyone that it's there. Bro and I walked past it three times. If I hadn't found it on Opentable, I'd never have known that it existed. The restaurant itself sits in the lobby and basically shares space with check-in. It's well lit in a large, comfortable space. This is very similar to the Aloft experiences that I've had and it does mean that the atmosphere and experience will be different from a normal restaurant. There are few other restaurants, for example, where you might see people reading a newspaper on a sofa.
The Gastro Bar calls itself a tapas place, but that's not really true. There are some tapas standards, but the menu is pretty small with only fifteen items, almost all priced between $10 and $15, and it's basically bar food. Caesar salad, mac and cheese, sliders. That said, it was very very good bar food. Bro and I ordered a round of drinks and decided what to get. First up, the Pintxos Morunos, lamb skewers marinated in cumin and lemon with parsley.They were absolutely the most tender meat you can imagine. Any more tender and it would have been jello. I was honestly shocked by how good they were. The next thing to try were the deceptively-named Chicken Lollipops which were standard buffalo wings in hot sauce with blue cheese. The buffalo wings were large, very good, and they did a nice job plating them, but at the end of the day they were buffalo wings. Honestly, since you only get four, a more accurate description would be large, good, well-plated, overpriced buffalo wings.
We next tried the Fish Tacos. I love fish tacos but a decent one can be hard to come by. I can't tell you how many times I've ordered one when eating out only to wish I'd gotten something else. Well, the ones at Gastro Bar were good. Very good. Very small. Two bites per taco and you're done - left wondering where your taco went. It was just there on your plate. They weren't much different from the usual ones you might try, but the fish was seared with to have a crispy shell, but was still soft and flaky and moist. I recommend getting two orders because you'll inhale them before you know it. The largest item that we ordered was the Chorizo and Cheese Flatbread; manchego cheese with pesto and little cubes of chorizo. Again, it was very good and luckily large enough to be filling. Had Bro and I not ordered this, we would have been forced to order at least two more items.
Part of me wants to call The Gastro Bar a hidden gem because the food really was very good. Far better than I was expecting. But you do have understand that this is basically very well made bar food. I would certainly return if I was in the area and wanted something quick, well made, and didn't want to wait for a table. On the other hand, if I was looking for real Spanish tapas, then The Gastro Bar wouldn't be on the list.
Four small plates and two drinks, plus tax and tip totaled $88.
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