Catal Restaurant - dinner - March 9, 2003
To celebrate my birthday this year, I wanted to have dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, so a group of close friends joined us for dinner. With a reservation made ahead of time, we were pleased to get what we refer to now as "our table", and our favorite waiter Ryan was our server to boot. While we were settling in, the assistant manager came over to assistant in the wine selection for those who would be partaking.
I was surprised to learn that even though the scheduled seasonal menu change was not due yet, there had been a slight tweak to the dinner menu, but a few arrangements had been made. I was therefore able to order venison for dinner, but it was prepared differently than it had been when it had been the Sunday evening plat du jour, which I'd had a few weeks prior. My first time having venison was at a wine dinner at Catal in November of 2002, and I had found that I very much liked venison. I had enjoyed it prepared as the plat du jour but probably wouldn't have ordered it again so soon except that it was to be prepared a different way this evening, though I was unclear exactly how it was to be prepared. I decided to trust that my experience at Catal would remain as great as it had been and ordered the venison again. It ended up being served with small fingerling potatoes and white asparagus, and being a big asparagus fan, I was very pleased with my selection. Venison is fast becoming my new favorite meat, though I'm not sure I'd be willing to have it anywhere other than at Catal.
As a starter, my husband and I shared the compressed salad, which I always like. I also had a bite of the escargot that someone else ordered. I thought the dish was ok, but with much more surrounding the escargot than I had expected. I'd actually like to try it at some point a little more pure.
Everyone enjoyed their meal, and we had a great time engaged in conversation with each other and with Ryan and other restaurant staff. After our entree, the chef de cuisine came by the table to ask how the venison had been, and I told him that I loved it and actually preferred this presentation to the regular plat du jour version.
In the past, I've often ordered the creme brulee for dessert, having experienced it for the first time at Catal and now being unable to tolerate anyone else's version, but before I had a chance to even consider dessert, it was let slip that dessert would be special this evening. One of my friends had arranged with the staff to have a special dessert prepared, something that I liked very much and which was no longer on the menu. The staff ended up making one of the special desserts for each person and then brought a platter of mixed desserts, which included cake, berries and sorbets. It was an absolutely amazing array of sweets to compliment an already terrific dinner.
Because the restaurant was actually quite crowded for a Sunday evening (there was apparently a convention in town), and because we lingered over our meal, we ended up being there for longer than we had expected, being one of the last parties to leave for the evening. We thanked all of the staff who had done so much to make it such a wonderful evening.
With as many times as I've been to Catal, it's hard to find new ways of saying how wonderful a restaurant it really is. I would definitely recommend Catal for any meal, whether for a regular meal or to celebrate any occasion. Great friends, great food - what more could you ask for?
For other Catal Restaurant and Uva Bar reviews, please click here.
For the current dinner menu offerings, please click here.
For the current uva bar and cafe menu offerings, please click here.
For Catal Restaurant and Uva Bar menu offerings from prior seasons, please click here.
To see Catal's specific webpage in the Patina Group website, please click here. (Note that the menus on the site are out-of-date, but there are some nice views of the restaurant and some background.)
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