For several weeks now I have been hearing great buzz for Tres Gatos in Jamaica Plain. As soon as I heard about their concept, I was dying to go. Tres Gatos, which means "three cats" in Spanish, is a three part experience - tapas bar, book store and record shop. I love all three of these components and couldn't wait to check it out.
Tonight my mom and I headed to Centre Street to find Tres Gatos. It is very unassuming and easy to miss given that it is not in a traditional, commercial, restaurant space. Tres Gatos lives on the first floor of a house. It's only markation is a gray sign in the front right corner of the yard.
As we approached the front door we noticed the property is still under construction. After doing a little research on the Tres Gatos website, I learned that they are about to install a handicap ramp and once that is completed they plan to landscape an outdoor patio and surround it with shrubbery, plants and flowers.
We arrived at about 7:15pm and all of the tables were taken. The host (who we later learned is the owner) asked if we wound mind sitting at the bar. Though my mother definitely prefers to have a wall or a booth to lean against when we dine, she realized if we didn't take the bar seats we might be waiting quite a while.
We sat right in the center of the bar and were greeted by a bubbly bartender. She handed us each a menu but the lighting was so dark we had to take out our cell phones and shine them onto the menus in order to see the offerings. While this type of lighting may be great for awkward first dates or romantic trysts, it is not so great for actually needing to see the menu.
Tres Gatos has an excellent Spanish wine list. We each decided to try a different glass of red. The Casa Castillo for me (dark chocolate, gingerbread and black raspberry) and the Rioja Alta for her (nose of earth, mushroom, cherry). The wine came served in stemless glasses. We were both supremely happy with our selections!
We started with the Aceituna Alinadas (olives) which came out warm and were extremely flavorful.
My mother also wanted to have the traditional jamon serrano, which she said was excellent and reminded her of the best tasting Italian prosciutto. She asked our waitress if it was possible to have some bread to eat with the jamon and the waitress quickly delivered three large, doughy rolls with a side of olive oil. Yum!
Next we had another traditional, Spanish dish - tortilla espanola. This is an omlete of egg, potato and onion and this version was spectacular! It came with a pepper aioli on the plate that was divine.
We also ordered my absolute favorite dish, the patatas bravas. These are traditionally small potatoes with a spicy, tomato based sauce. These potatoes were perfectly cooked and served with both a spicy tomato sauce and a garlic aioli. Holy delicious. We ate every last one.
Lastly we tried the mushroom cannelloni, which is really more of an Italian dish than a Spanish dish. My mother raved about this one and said it might have been her favorite of the night. I found the mushroom flavor a smidgen overwhelming, but they were quite good.
While we enjoyed every single dish we ordered, we were a bit peeved that they came out so quickly. We had every plate in front of us after ten minutes. It would have been nice to have them spaced out a bit. It made the meal feel rushed.
After stuffing our faces we patiently waited for the bartender to clear our plates so we could check out the dessert menu. She was flirting with a patron at the end of the bar for over fifteen minutes before realizing we were waiting on her. When she finally noticed we were ready for the next course we'd already lost interest.
Before heading out I really wanted to check out the book store and record shop. I dragged my mom to the back of the space and as soon as she got a glimpse at the vinyl collection she perked right back up. She spent a good twenty minutes talking to the store clerk about artists she had just seen live in Miami. Yes, people, my mother is cooler than me.
I spent a good chunk of this winter listening to and shopping for vinyl records, so I was having a blast looking through Tres Gatos' collection. They had classics from Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Jackson 5, Paul Simon and more, to contemporary favorites like Jay-Z, Rihanna, Vampire Weekend and even Ke$ha!
Despite a few small hiccups, our experience at Tres Gatos was outstanding. The food was exceptional and the book store and record shop were wonderfully eccentric and entertaining. I could easily spend an entire afternoon or evening across all three spaces and be blissfully happy.
Visit Tres Gatos at 470 Centre Street.