Rythm & Muse, the neighborhood bookshop and record store located on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain recently transformed itself into a Tapas Bar. I guess transformed is the wrong word, for they are in fact still a book and music store, instead they’ve revamped some of the space to include a dining area filled with both private tables for two, along with a more casual large communal high-top. After traveling all over Spain, the couple who own Rythm & Muse thought incorporating a tapas bar into the bookstore would be a perfect fit. Having always harbored an environment meant for sampling, sharing and connecting, they got some help from a few industry chefs to create a dynamic menu based on small plates and locally sourced produce.
Renamed Tres Gatos, the restaurant is a delightful compliment to their hand-picked selection of books, CDs and vinyl. It will also make you feel like you aren’t so much inside a trendy tapas bar, but rather inside someones living room. Which is a great thing if you ask me. Comfortable and intimate, the open kitchen adds to the effect of feeling like you are inside a house. A beautifully decorated, warm, cozy house that comes equipped with it’s own personal chef. The lack of signage out front only adds to its private home-like mystique and the ceiling above the bar was decorated with old worn-down doors. Pretty cool if you ask me. Okay I’ll just say it… I loved everything about it!
Starting with a little meat and cheese, Tres Gatos had a pretty decent selection of both but seeing as I “Just had cheese” for lunch earlier that day (a line which ended up providing quite a bit of entertainment throughout the evening as you can imagine) we decided to just pick one, going for the Tetilla, a creamy cow’s milk cheese, rich in flavor but more mild than the other offerings. It was perfectly spreadable and delicious and paired well with the Lomo Serrano, a cured Serrano pork loin served with garlic and pimentón. It was tasty as well, but doesn’t stand a chance against the charcuterie offerings at Coppa.
Then the real tapas started to arrive….
First up, Empanadas stuffed with slow cooked grass fed beef served with a romesco sauce and cerignola olives. A sucker for anything with a crunchy, crispy, deep-fried exterior, I loved these guys. Filled with some seriously savory meat inside, these empanadas were delish!
Next came the Patatas Bravas. Crispy Yukon gold potatoes served with aioli and salsa bravas for dipping, this side is a staple at any tapas joint. As home fry’s are to brunch, and as french fries are to my burger, patas bravas are an integral part of any tapas experience. A pretty standard dish done exceptionally well. They weren’t too greasy or oily just scolding hot and smothered in those amazing homemade sauces, which when mixed together are a prime example of why the whole sum of two parts exceeds whatever it was when they stood on their own.
While the first few dishes were all well done and beyond satisfying, the real magic started to happen when the Albóndigas arrived. These Moroccan lamb meatballs came with a side of grilled country toast, and thank God they did because the sauce they came served with was amazing. The thought of it is still resonating in my mind. Sweet with a hint of spice, the flavor of the sauce is what made this dish unique and unlike any other meatball inspired tapas I have every tried. The toast was particularly ideal for dipping.
Followed by the Slow-Cooked Heritage Pork Belly, served over a cider braised endive and winter apple salad. Hands down the best pork belly I’ve ever had! Cooked ever-so-perfectly, the pork was tender and fatty but not overly chewy which is exactly how it should be. The flavors were amazing, which at this point wasn’t shocking. The combination of textures, flavors and heat in every dish had been so thoughtful throughout the entire meal.
Although I was pretty much stuffed at this point, a very nice couple sitting at a table nearby could not stop raving about the prawns, the Gambas All i Pebre. And so it became obvious that I would have to try them as well. Like everything else, they were pretty fantastic too. Out came a sizzling skillet filled with garlic-drenched New Caledonia prawns, topped with toasted garlic, buttered toast and a pine nut picada. So tasty! The texture of the prawns was interesting, almost creamy, but ughh all that garlic. I love garlic. But only when followed by some seriously sweet……..
Dessert! Duh!! Finishing off dinner with the Sugared Churros served with spiced hot chocolate sauce for dipping. OMFG! So amazing! They reminded me of when I was little and used to always eat fried dough whenever I crossed paths with it. Before I knew how bad fried dough was for you. Which is, by the way, probably one of the top five saddest things that has ever happened to me. Fluffy on the inside, crunchy on the outside, fresh-out-the oven, ugh I’m obsessed.
Cheers to another seemingly flawless dinner that I won’t soon forget. It’s going to be hard for me to stay away from this place. Being here also reminded me I have GOT to get myself over to Canary Square soon, conveniently located across the street. I should also mention the wine list at Tres Gatos includes all Spanish offerings, both Red and White. I went with the 09 MUSTIGUILLO “MESTIS”, a Bobal/Tempranillo/Syrah blend that was spicy, well-balanced and smooth. It went well with dinner.
And don’t act like you don’t want some free chips, if you haven’t done so already be sure to enter the Food Should Taste Good Giveaway. Today’s your last chance! The lucky winner will be announced Tomorrow.