Catalyst 2014- Pampered , Relaxed, Happy
- opinionatedchef Feb 14, 2014 10:23 PM
A number of CHs that I respect are fans of Catalyst, and I have been wanting to try it since they opened in 2011. I'm on their email list and, though we hadn't done Valentine's Day out in awhile, I was very taken by C's menu, so tonight we finally got to go there.
Tuna Tartare with Avocado , and Cockscomb Pasta w/ Lobster and Perigord reduction- were our meals' highlights, both luxury dishes that perfectly suited our desire to be pampered. Salmon and lamb entrees were perfectly cooked and the extra ramekin of blood orange beurre blanc I requested- was worthy of some serious genuflection. Just beautiful.
C's chef/owner Bill Kovel had made a very good name for himself at the Four Seasons' Aujourdhui, so I was confident that the night would go well. When a successful hotel chef opens their own place (I can't think of other recent examples in Boston right now) you can be pretty sure that not much fazes them, that they've likely "seen it all", and that they run a tight ship. Sure enough, C was true to those thoughts. It's a very big space with 20 foot ceilings and a front wall of windows, with sleek understated grey decor: padded chairs and banquettes, wooden plank-like tables, cement floors and simple lighting.
Despite the hard surfaces, it was very quiet in the front 'Atrium' room . And best of all, there was a lot of space between tables. Man, i really can't remember eating w/ out being able to hear my neighbor's conversation, and that quality alone made it very special.
From the get-go, the details were all there. A terrific bread basket of Iggy's served with a very unique and delightful spiced butter. The best lime cucumber vodka drink i've ever been given
and some very interesting reds by the glass. They were flush with servers and the spacing and timing of the dishes- was seamless. Plate presentation was particularly lovely- nothing over-the-top dramatic but well composed and layered , and dressed with swirls of colorful sauces and oils.
I was surprised how much I enjoyed that aspect of the dishes. Compared to the bistros where we usually eat, Catalyst was a welcome stop in luxe, and we look forward to returning.
Would love to hear of others' experiences. It hasn't had its own CH thread for awhile.
This is one of our favorite places for the "ladies" to meet for lunch. The service is wonderful, we can chat away without feeling we're encroaching on anyone's space, we can hear each other, and we like the food very much. Oddly, while the space is very chic and modern, the service is very warm and homey, a nice combination indeed.
Edit: Upon a second day tasting of that bread, i realized that it is not Iggy's, so I called to find out that it is Nashoba Brook Potato Bread. Very moist and chewy with a tang--- amazing.
i know it seems silly to correct the attribution of the bread, but this is the first nashoba brook product that has impressed me and now i see how good they can be.
Glad you liked Catalayst, OC. It's one of our favorite spots. Always surprised it doesn't get more love on these boards.
We really enjoy sitting at the bar and watching the Chef pace back and forth along the line. They also have some of the most comfortable bar stools around. It's a nice contrast to the horribly uncomfortable chairs they have at Area Four. We tend to favor the bar menu (burger, chicken wings, bolognese are some of our favorites). They also really excel with pastas. I had an absolutely beautiful plate of short rib tortellini a couple weeks ago.
Walked in a couple of Friday's ago w/o reservation- no tables available, but the efficient hostess said the left corner of the bar had just opened up. Great for us w/the busy bar. Friendly, patient bartender very accommodating answering our questions. We ordered:
*Chicken Liver Mousse, Pickled Onions, Country Bread, Herb Salad 10. The mousse was savory, creamy & a very generous portion that spread beautifully on the crusty, Tuscan style bread.
The Grilled Spanish Octopus, Andouille Sausage And White Bean Stew, Frisée 14 was a good sized bowl w/chunky tomatoes, very tender octopus, beans &, I believe, arugula vs. frisée- that worked just fine. The French onion tortellini w/Gruyere made for melt in your mouth, lucious short ribs, but we found the pasta a little tough. The cheese board had a number of tasty samples that, I believe, change with what's available - sorry didn't note them specifically, but pungent veined, hard & soft spreadable choices featured along w/tangy, intense house made marmalade. We asked that they serve all as they were put together. Our wines, by the glass, were ample pours. We were stuffed & actually couldn't finish everything. Noise level muted enough to easily carry on a conversation. All in all, a fun early evening that we'd recommend & thought it would be fun to reserve comfy seats w/low tables in front of the sumptuous, long, low gas fireplace w/more dining companions.