Located near Lincoln Center, surrounded by all the best art and clultural influences in New York City and in the world, Gastroarte blends art with food in a uniquely innovative way.
We had the opportunity to speak with Chef Jesús Núñez about his vision and his background as a graffiti artist. (Yes, he has been arrested in the past!) So enamored by art, he decided to incorporate his personal aesthetic of art into all of his restaurants along with a marvelous dining experience. He explains that the dishes and tables are purposeful white as the canvas and the food itself is the art.
The space adorned with framed paintings and murals painted directly on the walls. The rooms are themed, based on their food and signature dishes. Upon entering the restaurant, the tapas room is based on “white chocolate” with portrait of a woman for a delicate feel. The section in the back is the Garden Room with an illuminated greenery scene, reflective of their fresh vegetables.
The middle dining section has an energetic mural of a matador and his bull, shades of firey orange and red to match our appetites. Fun fact: Chef Núñez left part of the 70s vintage wallpaper and the artist incorporate it into the painting as part of the matador’s traje de luces.
We started off with some appetizers plated as pieces of art. The croquetas came in an ornate metallic basket that resembles a sculpture. Patatas Bravas, a seemingly simple potato dish found in many Spanish restaurants, were delicated capped by a delicious bravioli sauce.
One of their signature appetizers is the savory carrot “cake” with Mahón cheese and asparagus. To me it tasted a bit like a hashed potato with just a subtle hit of carrot, but only Chef Núñez knows what is hidden. Certainly nothing like your typical dessert carrot cake, and worth a try as it is one of their most popular dishes.
The star of the show is the colorful beets and goat cheese mosaic salad, another one of their signature dishes. Beets are certainly not my thing, but having such a colorful dish – even beets were cooked differently to achieve different shades of red, pink and purple – making it a feast for your eyes.
Among the meats and fish entrees, for the main course I selected the lamb cheeks with lentils, spiced cheese and asparagus on brioche. My friend enjoyed her lightly seared red tuna with a tomato and sherry sauce. The only issue was that we just had tasting portions and were craving more of the delicious morsels!
Fortunately, this left room for dessert. The descriptions are a bit vague, leaving you in suspense at what they will come out with.
I asked for more details about Earth, and even after the explanation, I still only caught “chocolate.” When the dessert came out, I really thought they were giving me just a pile of neatly patted-down dirt with sprigs of grass. Turns out that the “dirt” is crumbled up morsels of a variety of different cookies. Holding it all together underneath is a delicious sweetened lemon sauce, and you can mix it all together for a nice blend of sweet and tart.
My friend got the more straight-forward and beautifully plated Warm Liquid chocolate fritters with touch of orange glaze.
Gastroarte serves up a lovely meal in addition to visual art worthy of a gallery owner’s palate. Fine art does not come cheaply: tapas range from $8-13, appetizers from $10-20, main entrees $25-35, and desserts from $10-12, but you get an evening of art and get to eat it, too.
141 W. 69th Street
New York, NY 10023
Photos by Socially Superlative and via Gastroarte