Slate Nails The Gastro

Trey Popp rats out who’s to blame for the term “gastropub” in his review this week. And as much as we were thrilled to find the names of those responsible for such a dreadful term, the real story is that 21st Street’s Slate is kicking butt with the food half of gastropub. The beer and wine on the otherhand could use some emboldening. 

So it’s a good thing [owner Laurentiu] Muras hits the bull’s-eye in the chef department. Eric Paraskevas, Lolita’s former chef de cuisine, sallies forth from that haute-Mexican training ground with the confidence of a cook who bears watching. Working from a small menu that runs from spring rolls to seared snapper to a juicy pulled pork and cheddar sandwich, he excels at understated surprises, and during my two visits there wasn’t a single misstep.

The south-of-the-border influences are evident, but Paraskevas deftly weaves them into a broader culinary cloth. A block of seared queso fresco sits at the bottom of a panzanella salad that’s otherwise pure Tuscany: crispy bread cubes anointed with olive oil, cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers and the sparest dash of truffle emulsion — no heavy hand here, praise be — then crowned with a thicket of fried basil leaves that collapse on the tongue with a featherweight crackle. A lamb shank comes with a red onion and chayote escabeche whose acidic twang plays soprano to the meat’s murky baritone. High marks too for the accompanying parsnip purée, which got its bold flavor straight from the root, not an overdose of butter and cream.This is food that prizes honesty over artifice.

Stone’s Throw [City Paper]