Catal Restaurant - dinner - May 19, 2002
I've been to the upstairs restaurant on two occasions and loved it both times. It's another one of my favorite restaurants at the Disneyland Resort that I don't end up going to very often (the other being Napa Rose in the Grand Californian). Our first visit had been in May of 2001 with a second visit in July of 2001. Understanding why I was missing the restaurant so much after not having been for so long, we made plans weeks in advance to go back for dinner, and we made reservations Sunday afternoon for a 6:30 dinner. The waiter that we'd had on our first visit was very good and very friendly, and he had actually stopped by our table on our second visit just to say hi. When we made the reservation, we asked if he'd be working that night. We were told that they didn't know but would include a note that if he was working, we were requesting to be put at his station. By the way, reservations for Downtown Disney restaurants (some anyway, I'm not sure about all) can be made by calling Disney's Dining Number, 714-781-DINE. (I've got that phone number programmed into my celphone...) If you call far enough in advance, prior to the day of your reservation, you make your reservation through Disney and they relay it to the proper restaurant. If you call the day of your visit, the Disney number will then transfer you to the restaurant of your choice and you can make your reservation directly with them. That way, no need to remember the phone numbers of each individual restaurant and no need even to walk over the restaurant to make the reservation.
When we got upstairs at the appointed time, we were told that our requested waiter was working and that we had been put at one of his stations, so we were very happy. As it turns out, we ended up sitting at the exact same table as during our July 2001 visit. Even though it had been a while, our waiter (I'll call him "R" for ease of reference) remembered us so we chatted with him for a while. I asked if the executive chef (I'll call him "B" for ease of reference) was working that night, expecting to be told no because R had previously told us that B usually took Sunday nights off, so we were very pleased to find out that B was actually working that night because another chef was out. The first time we'd had dinner there, we'd ended up having a very special appetizer, one not on the menu, so we asked R if he'd mind asking B if he could make it again. After going into the kitchen and coming back, R said that B actually remembered us because of our request and would be happy to make the dish again. It was slightly different because B didn't have all the same ingredients, but what was proposed sounded just as good. When it arrived, it was indeed as good as we'd remembered. And no, no details. You'll just have to come to dinner with us sometime to find out what it is.
I ordered the fettucini arrabbiata with garlic-chili shrimp which was pretty good. It was lighter on the sauce than I normally prefer, but with the rest of dinner, I ended up not having very much of the fettucini anyway and taking most of it home. Others at our table ordered filet mignon, manicotti stuffed with beef short ribs and grilled halibut. Everyone was very pleased with their entrees. During the meal, our waiter came back several times to chat with us and tell us stories. At one point, he also brought B out to meet us, so that was a lot of fun. We told him how much we loved the appetizer, and he told us about other different ways it can be prepared. One particular suggestion peaked all of our interests, so that's definitely something we have to try next time.
When it came time for dessert, I didn't need to think about what to order. The first time I'd ever had creme brulee was during our May 2001 visit, and I discovered a new favorite dessert. I'm also spoiled now because Catal's creme brulee always comes as little dishes of three different flavors, and that's what I expect when I order it elsewhere, but so far, Catal has been the only place to serve it as such. This night, the three flavors were all berries: raspberry, blueberry and blackberry. I shared that with one other person, and dessert was just as good as I remembered. And it's always fun breaking through the hard top shell. Maybe sometime, I'll order something else for dessert there, but probably only if they had creme brulee flavors I detested. We actually thought up 3 flavors I'd refuse to eat, but I'll spare you. Two other people each ordered a chocolate hazelnut crunchy cake, and I had a taste of that. It was very, very good, very chocolaty (R had said that another patron had described it as a "chocolate brick to the side of your head"), but also very rich.
The restaurant is offering a special to Disney annual passport holders: Sunday through Thursday (excluding holidays or during special events), the restaurant offers one complimentary appetizer for each two passholders with the purchase of two entrees for lunch or dinner.
With great food, great company and a terrific waiter, and time enough to enjoy a leisurely dinner, it was an absolutely wonderful meal. There were at least three other things on the menu that appealed to me and that I'd like to try, so I know I'll definitely be back at least three other times. And we're going to try very hard not to let as much time go by in between visits.
I can't possibly recommend this restaurant more highly.
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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