Fatta Cuckoo: The Best Restaurant You’ve Never Heard Of

Restaurants like Fatta Cuckoo are why I am in love with NYC. A tiny restaurant, only big enough for a few stools and tables, offering haute Southern food at incredibly reasonable prices. I hadn’t ever heard of it, and still wouldn’t if it weren’t for my social media guru friend and dining partner-in-crime who both invited me there for a tasting. That is because the chef refuses to spend any money or time on advertising that could better be spent on the food itself. Chef Chris Mitchell, of The Breslin and The Meatball Shop, is making his stamp on the New York food scene by staying true to his beliefs: fresh food, local vendors, and the Southerm flavors of his youth mixed with the sophistication of his classical training. He spent time with us during the meal and explained every dish, talking about how each element worked and what inspired him. Though I can’t imagine that he does this for every diner, his love and commitment to making each dish a wonderful experience must surely be on every plate.

The restaurant is, as aforementioned, diminutive, but the causal space manages to feel comfortable and hip. Be aware that none of the seats have backs, so this may not be ideal for someone who needs a lot of room or back support during the meal. But, if they can suck it up, your friends will be in for an very special gustatory experience.

 Sweet Potato Hush Puppies with Chili Lime Aioli
All summer Chef Mitchell prepared dish with sweet corn, but when corn went out of season, he refused to buy frozen or subpar corn. His solution was to use a sweet potato in the batter instead of the corn. Tiny brunoised sweet potatoes, creamy and soft, melted into slightly sweet cornmeal batter. The result was a light hush puppy, crispy on the outside and  fluffy on the inside. The fritter could have been a dessert with powdered sugar, but the zesty chili lime aioli brought the dish to a savory place. The fact that the vegetables were brunoised shows Mitchells’ commitment to quality – it takes FOREVER to brunoise vegetables, but that is the only way to make sure that there is texture to the potatoes and that they are all cooked through evenly. No one saw the tiny, even dices of sweet potato, but the perfect way that the croquettes were fried were the result of that attention to detail. This sweet and savory starter was just the beginning of a sensational meal. 
Black Bean Soup with Roasted Poblano Crema and Crispy Tortillas
Any dish that is remotely Mexican piques my interest, and this black bean soup was the best I have had in recent memory. The soup was hearty but not heavy, with a slow burning spice that made it perfect for the wintry night. The poblano creama was creamy and smoky without being too spicy, and the crispy tortillas…well, when is anything crispy not delicious, right? I could have eaten a bowl of this, easily. Or two.
 Burrata and Fried Egg over Roasted Tomato Sauce with Chile Oil
The flavors here were all wonderful – milky burrata, rich egg yolk, spicy chile oil, and deeply earthy roasted tomato sauce. Though I would have preferred the tomato sauce to be hot instead of room temperature, the combination of flavors was so rich and totally comforting that it won me over. The chile oil was especially important in keeping this dish bright and interesting. 
 Lobster Ravioli with Marechiara Sauce with Lemon Zest and Chives
This was my second favorite dish of the night. The homemade ravioli was tender and thin, but with a bit of chew that contrasted with the sweet lobster and fresh chive filling. The natural salinity of the lobster was complimented by the spicy tomato sauce and that incredibly fresh, vibrant lemon oil. The lemon oil was a total shocker – it made the tomatoes sweeter, the lobster richer, and really electrified the whole dish.
 Butternut Squash Risotto with Fried Sage and Butternut Seed Oil
I’ll be frank: this dish blew my mind. I have had butternut squash risotto, and this had all the qualities of a good one – creamy rice, sweet squash, a touch of woodsy sage. But the butternut squash seed oil knocked this out of ordinary territory right into the hall of fame. It tasted reminiscent of both peanut butter and tahini – deep, nutty, meaty. A little went a long way towards giving the dish depth. I plan to make this at home and experiment with other roasted nut oils – it was a major eye opener.
 Three Chile Rubbed Pork over Sweet Potato Mash with Roasted Pasilla Chile Sauce
THIS was the dish of the night. Maybe the dish of the month. This is undoubtedly the best pork loin that I have ever eaten, mostly because it was cooked perfectly – medium rare. Not at all red, but rosy throughout, so it retained the inherent sweetness and tenderness of the pork. This was almost as succulent as pork belly, but without any of the salt or smoke. It was purely sweet, pure pork flavor, surrounded by a zesty, peppery spice rub and lacquered in a smoky roasted chile sauce. This was not hot at all, just spiced – someone who doesn’t like incendiary food could certainly enjoy this. The mash, creamy and sweet, were another example of how Mitchell loves to use what is in season. The sweet potatoes absorbed the pork’s many juices and that wonderful roasted chile sauce. 
 Braised Short Ribs over Sweet Potatoes
Want to see what perfection looks like?
This. This is what a perfectly cooked short rib looks like. Melting off the bone, with booming beefy flavor within and a sweet/salty BBQ glaze without. Roasted sweet potatoes, with their mineral-y skin on sopping up all the luscious bovine juices. This is a standard on the menu, and the regular portion is Flinstone sized, replete with a giant bone. I can’t make better short ribs than this. 
You have no idea how much it pains me to admit that. 
Dessert Sampler with Coconut Cake, Key Lime Pie, Cheesecake, Lemon Pistachio Cake, and Tortoni
Well, this was a great way to end a gut busting meal – with four slices of delicious cake and a sweet, almondy ice cream. The lemon pistachio cake was particularly wonderful – dense, moist, and more rich than sweet.

Fatta Cuckoo is a hell of a spot. The food is seasonal, locally sourced, and outrageously delicious. The portions are huge. The prices are fair. Perhaps most importantly, the chef is a guy whose establishment you want to patronize. He so loves food, he loves feeding people, and he loves doing it in a responsible, seasonal way. 

And all that is why Fatta Cuckoo is the best restaurant you have never heard of. Until now.
Fatta Cuckoo on Urbanspoon

*Note: My meal was paid for by the restaurant.  I was not paid or required to write a review, and my opinions are my own and, I feel, impartial.*

Comments

  1. Sarah says:

    Thanks for coming! Such a wonderful meal xx

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