These days it seems we have several restaurant openings every month. A new restaurant has a way of commanding a headline – openings are the culmination of years of hard work, from concept to the moment the first order hits the line. It’s a day the chef never forgets.
The greater accomplishment, however, is continuing to thrive 17 years later. That has been Chef/Owner Ricardo Sandoval’s good fortune at Fat Cats in Tremont. Sandoval has yet to run out of inspiration when it comes to his well-executed Modern American menu with heavy Mediterranean influence.
Simplicity is Sandoval’s
hallmark: he allows the quality of the ingredients to shine through and take
center stage. It may appear simple, but there is a lot of skill and genius at
play. Extracting the most out of a few fresh ingredients and the perfect blend
of seasonings is distinctively Mediterranean; it’s a region where simply but
expertly prepared fresh ingredients – fish, meat, poultry, fruits and
vegetables – are de rigueur. It is also
no coincidence that, historically, the use of spices increases as you get
closer to the equator.
Fat Cats radiates a fun, hip vibe. You enter by a long bar located in the first of three dining rooms. We’ve enjoyed many dinners at the bar over the years. Our most recent was on an idyllic late spring evening. We were seated in the middle of three rooms, adjacent to the patio. The doors to the patio were open and a gentle breeze wafted inside.
We selected a chilled rosé from the Loire Valley that was as light, acerbic and refreshing as we had hoped. We then turned our attention to the food: one of the keys to Fat Cats’ ongoing success is that Sandoval cleverly offers a lengthy list of seasonal specials in addition to his regular dinner menu. It adds a bit of surprise for returning patrons and keeps the focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients.
As we sipped our wine, we settled on a
couple of appetizers (we ordered two but three came to the table). The grilled
baby octopus salad had a pleasant, smoky char and a delicate texture. The
braised mushrooms with triple crème cheese, crostini sherry and tomato was a
welcome accompaniment to the baby octopus. And we were genuinely surprised by
Ricardo’s spin on a Caprese salad: the layering begins with sliced burrata
rather than fresh mozzarella, topped with slices of tomato and a pungent pesto,
all drizzled with a luxurious, extra virgin olive oil. The burrata was fresh
and sinfully creamy.
|Touraine Rosé, Loire Valley|
|Grilled Baby Octopus|
|Orecchiete Pasta with Sausage and Rapini|
|Wild Halibut Special|
|Wild Salmon Special|
For dessert, we shared an order of crème brûlée – a rich, lavish custard complemented by a crystallized caramel shell. It had the traditional vanilla flavor and was served at room temperature – as it should be.
The pace of our meal was leisurely and relaxed. The restaurant and patio
were nearly full, yet our server seemed to be there when we needed her without
hovering (no small feat). Fat Cats provided a pleasant, comforting, memorable meal that will remain with us long after the last
Fat Cats is located at: 2061 W 10th Street, Cleveland, OH 44113, 216.579.0200
Prices are moderate: $$