Hint #1: Jacki & Meesh from Just Add Cheese will host this affair.
Hint #2: Where? "Let's get together and feel alright."
Hint #3: Gaudi approved.
Hint #4: Despite where this restaurant opened this year, the concept is anything but plain.
Hint #5: Garfield, Sylvester and Puss 'n Boots.
Tres Gatos is a full service tapas bar, book and music store founded on the belief that sharing good food, music and books is essential to a happy life. Who wouldn't agree?! Located at 470 Center Street in Jamaica Plain, it is just a 15 minute walk from the orange line (Stonybrook) through a picturesque neighborhood. I was greeted by a multi-level gray blue house with an under construction stone patio.I have a feeling that upon completion his will be a lovely outdoor dining space. I paid the book and music store a visit first, checking out the vast selection of old vinyl records and new paperback books amongst crisp wood shelves and brightly painted blue walls. It was a most enjoyable start to the evening.Tres Gatos means three cats en Español, and clue #5 makes a whole lot more sense now. The restaurant actually shut its doors tonight on Mystery Meets behalf; given the cozy intimate size and the number of tickets sold.The space is refined Spanish chic with tasteful decor everywhere you look and charming tables filling the cozy nooks; from corner banquettes backed by a landscaped mural on one end to high tables perched in the wide arched windows on the other. Split by a black lacquered wood bar, I thought the transformation of the interior into a living room esque vibe worked really well. A distinctive collage of Spanish liquor bottle lables caught my eye next to the fireplace. The opposite room boasts an 8 person chefs table across from a tiny open kitchen. Painted in bright complimentary colors, the orange wall meets blue table was strikingly gorgeous, the beauty only enhanced by prominent light fixtures and terra cotta sculpted wall art. Small standing counters located in each room tie the space together evoking the style of a traditional tapas bar.Speaking of tiny open kitchen, the first course is plated and looks just about ready to serve.In the meantime I mingled amongst other diners in the bar, sipping a light bodied slightly mineraly rosé whose name escapes me.After a warm welcome from our hosts, Jacki and Meesh, and an introduction by chef Marco Sanchez, we took our seats at one of the various locations and browsed the four course menu, which came at a fixed price of $42 including tax and gratuity. Drinks were extra and they also offered a full wine pairing for $24. I opted out of the wine pairing since I continued to sip my rosé and also enjoyed a glass of red over the course of the meal.The first plate was a trio of inventively paired Tapas. This ended up being my favorite plate of the evening. The simplicity of the mildly sharp breakfast radish with Moses Sleeper cheese and cervil awoke the palate with grace. Moses Sleeper is super creamy Camembert-style cows milk cheese from Vermont.The pork stuffed cerignola olive draped in anchovy was a fantastic creation. The melding of a briny duo of flavors with tender pork was unusual and captivating.The final bite of a thinly sliced crostini retained a light crunch while maintaining a soft bread like texture touting a bite of firm buttery manchego cheese topped with paper thin piparras.The second course of Gambas a la Plancha boasted two perfectly cooked prawns, the juicy morsels retained a welcome amount of slightly sweet and citrusy flavors. A deep and vibrant green, the cilantro coulis was wonderful, however there wasn't nearly enough to do about it. I wanted to drink the plate or have more components (perhaps some bread) to run through it in all its cilantro flavored glory.The next plate served was Fideos, a traditional Spanish noodle dish with with piquillo peppers, mussels, chorizo and chicken in a thin yet flavorful red sauce. Unfortunately, certain elements were lacking in execution and substance. The chorizo was incredibly dense, almost to the point of being rock hard. I definitely wasn't expecting this texture profile, I thought it should have been more tender. The mussels did not appear to fully cook, two were slightly cracked where I could pry them open with some force, and even though I know you're not supposed to, I really wanted to eat them! The body was somewhat mangled and defeated by the time I got to it. Other diners plates had some similar mussel opening issues. Lastly, my plate only saw one, maybe two small bites of chicken.
For dessert we were served a plate of Queso, the selection of cheeses impressive as was the thoughtful pairing of a sweet element, but the portion was minuscule and it truly left me wanting more. Perhaps if the later courses had filled me up this plate would have been the perfect digestif, but for some reason tonight, my ravenous appetite was not appeased.At twelve o'clock we have Torta de la Serna a sheeps milk from Spain; served with quince. To the right is Cheverin a goats milk from Belguim displaying a funky richness and a thick rind served with fig. Lastly the Manchego Curado another sheeps milk from Spain; coagulated with thissel giving it a grassy earthy taste served with honeycomb.
Perhaps it was the omission of a bread course, or maybe the fact that I ate four tapas plates over the course of two hours that left my appetite at bay. I think this was an untraditional experience at Tres Gatos, where the kitchen executing 40 something dishes at once was a burden.
Overall, Tres Gatos nailed bold flavor profiles even though certain elements were lacking in execution. I was constantly tasting something innovative. I'm still captivated by the thought of a pork stuffed olive, and that cilantro coulis was truly something special.
Mystery Meet has seen much success since its inception ten months ago and they continue to fulfill a goal of scoping out new and exciting restaurants in different areas of the city. A commendable job to the ladies of Just Add Cheese for gathering us all to experience the neighborhood comforts of Boston's newest - make that only tapas bar, book and music store.