Catal Restaurant - dinner - June, 2004

Catal's spring menu was introduced at the end of May, and we had the good fortune of being able to make several trips to Catal for dinner during the month of June. I was especially pleased because there are a number of items on the new menu that sound interesting to me. With Catal's seasonal menus, many items are only on the menu for several months. With this new menu, I noticed that quite a few things had been changed, and selections that had been available for quite some time had now been removed. A chicken ravioli dish has been on the menu since the restaurant first opened, and I'd had it once and enjoyed it quite a bit. Last fall, the dish was moved from the entree section to the appetizer section (though an entree-sized portion could still be ordered), and with this new menu, it has been taken off the menu altogether, apparently to the chagrin of some regular customers who have been dining at Catal since it first opened. Osso bucco has also been on the menu for quite some time, and it has been taken off as well, much to the dismay of a particular person I know who loves the dish there and orders it much of the time he dines there. A pork chop selection is also usually available, but it has been replaced on the current menu by a veal chop entree. The chef's menu offering has also been changed. For some time now, a three-course nightly special prix fixe has been offered. Recently, the prixe fixe has been changed so that one can choose to have three, four or five courses, and wine pairings can be added for an additional charge as well.

On my first visit, I tried the crispy crab galette appetizer, and I enjoyed that very much, especially with the chilled corn consomme. There's an heirloom tomato salad that sounds good to me as well. My husband has tried the smoked sturgeon and asparagus salad appetizer as well as the parmesan cups appetizer and enjoyed both.

On my first visit, I selected for my entree the coffee crusted lamb rack. I have come to very much enjoy lamb, especially at Catal, and this dish was no disappointment. My only caution would be with regard to the coffee crusting. It did add a good flavor to the lamb, but the crusting was fairly heavy, and it's definitely not decaf. By the time I got about half-way through the dish, I was scraping off the crusting because there was so much of it. I especially enjoyed the baby zucchini brochette that accompanies the lamb.

On my second visit, I had the seared jumbo scallops, which I especially enjoyed because of the accompanying crispy prosciutto chips. The scallops were very tasty. Dinner companions on other visits ordered the same dish and enjoyed it as well.

On my third visit, I had the Tiger prawns with three cheese tortellini. The prawns had wonderful flavor, and I very much liked the sauce on the pasta, but as I had ordered the soup of the day, which was a mushroom soup, the combination of both ended up making for a much too rich dinner.

There are four other items on the menu that sound especially tempting to me. There's a rigatoni with braised short ribs dish, and two of my dinner companions ordered the dish at various times, and the dish looked wonderful, and both enjoyed it very much. There's customarily a salmon dish on the menu, and this season, it's grilled Atlantic salmon with baby artichokes, kalamata olives and smoked tomato broth. I don't generally eat much cooked fish, but I've come to like cooked salmon, and Catal is almost the only place where I'll order cooked salmon. My husband had this dish on one of our visits, and it looked really good, and he enjoyed it very much. There's also a sun-dried tomato and goat cheese ravioli dish as well as a crispy duck confit. Two others of my dinner companions ordered the new veal chop and enjoyed it very much. I don't think I'll be able to try everything on the new menu that I'd like, but I know I'll be returning at least once more while this menu is still available, so I'll at least be able to try one more thing.

I have very much enjoyed the new menus the last couple of seasons, so I was a bit disappointed to hear that the executive chef would be leaving soon for a different restaurant. It sounds like a good opportunity for him, but I was sorry that he wouldn't be creating any more wonderful dishes for Catal. I guess we'll have to try out the new place once they're settled. In the meantime, though, I am looking forward to see what new things will be offered at Catal. I've enjoyed so many things from each of the executive chefs at Catal, and I don't expect that to change.

With this new menu, a new dessert menu was introduced as well. I tried the peanut brittle cup with rum marinated pineapple and coconut sorbet. I loved the coconut sorbet, and I liked the peanut brittle cup, but it was fairly thick when I had it, so it was difficult to break off and eat. They are apparently made fresh every day, and some days, they're made thicker than others, so it's a luck of the draw as far as that goes.

I inquired about the fruit platter with fresh berries, but as I was told that it mostly consisted of various melons, I didn't order that. I'm also a big fan of creme brulee, but I really like the stronger, bolder, different flavors, and as the trio often consists of vanilla, chocolate and some other flavor, I don't usually end up ordering it. Some of my dinner companions have ordered the mocha cake and the two tone chocolate cake, and they liked both, but I understand the chocolate cake is fairly rich.

My absolute favorite item on the new dessert menu is the peach cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. I love peaches, and the cobbler is very light on crust and plentiful with fruit and not extremely sweet. My only disappointment is that the cobbler is made for two, so I can only order it if someone else is willing to share it with me. The downstairs uva bar has a peach cobbler dessert as well, but it's a single serving portion, so I definitely have to try that sometime.

Speaking of the downstairs uva bar, there are a number of new items on that menu that I'd like to try as well. We haven't yet had a chance to go, but it's definitely something I want to do soon. On our first visit to the upstairs restaurant in June, we saw some of the runners bringing dishes to various tables, and onion rings are apparently included on the new menu. Looking at them from an upstairs table, the onion rings still looked absolutely huge, and they're definitely something I want to try. New to the menu is also a portobello burger, a lamb panini, lettuce wraps with minced garlic chicken, and baby back ribs with chipotle glaze. The cheeseburger is now a double deck cheeseburger, and there's also a Philly cheese steak on the menu this season.

With so many new items on the menu downstairs, there's a lot to try, but I also definitely highly recommend the upstairs restaurant with all the wonderful offerings this season.


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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