With its tile-edge brick oven, primary color scheme, open kitchen, and polished wood bar, Bolo's design fuses Manhattan and some fictional version of Barcelona. Bobby Flay's loosely Spanish-inspired food takes aim at New York palates. Green onion gazpacho is refreshing and spicy. If you're not in the mood for sangria, select from the well-priced wine list.
Address: 23 E. 22nd St., between Broadway and Park Ave. S,
Phone: 212/228-2200. Reservations essential. AE, MC, V. No lunch weekends.
It's been said that Luis Sollo, chef of this new Spanish restaurant, will do for Spanish cooking in America what chefs like Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten have done for French. It's a pity he has to do it in such an uninspired setting. Bollo's food is highly conceptualized but grounded in Spanish tradition: a better squid in black ink sauce would be difficult to find. Suckling pig is super, braised oxtail croquettes are heady and satisfying. A chilled octopus terrine forms a beautiful mosaic on the plate. But some dishes, particularly desserts, fall flat on their abstract face. (Beware of the herb foam.) And don't expect a lively scene - a kitsch mural of a sorcerer (meigas in Spanish) painted without any irony and an energy-zapping atmosphere gives the restaurant an inexplicably sedate feeling, even when it's packed.
Address: 121 250 Hudson St., at King St.
Phone: 212/627-5800. Reservations essential. AE, MC, V, Closed Sun. No lunch