Catal Restaurant - dinner - July 17, 2002

Catal is one of my two favorite restaurants at the Disneyland Resort (Napa Rose being the other), and on my search for where to have lunch earlier in the day, I'd considered the downstairs Uva bar, which I really like, even though they've changed the menu from what I used to like even more.  In browsing the menu, I also glanced at the dinner menu and noticed that the night's special was the "Surf 'n Turf", steak and lobster.  My husband and I had talked about coming on a night when he could have that, and I'm always up for Catal, so after checking with the person on duty that our favorite waiter, R, was scheduled to work that night, I had thought maybe dinner there that evening would be a possibility.  I figured I could convince my husband to go there, but at the time, I didn't know if RJ (an out-of-town friend who was in town for business) was going to be joining us and didn't know if he'd want to go there.

After checking out the menu, RJ decided he wanted to try it, so we went upstairs.  I asked for us to be sat at one of R's stations but was told by the hostess that he'd just gotten a couple of large tables and it would be a bit of a wait.  When I asked how long, she said about 15 minutes, which didn't seem a big deal, so we sat down to wait.  During our wait, R walked by and saw us and said hi, and we told him we were waiting for one of his tables.  After about 30 minutes or so had gone by, we started getting a bit antsy and not knowing how much longer the wait would be, we had just decided to tell the hostess that we'd just go with another waiter when R came up to us and said that one of his tables was ready to pay their bill and leave, so it would just be a few minutes.  So we waited a little bit longer and then were taken to our table.  We ended up sitting on the balcony, which overlooks that section of Downtown Disney.  In our previous visits to Catal, we'd never sat outside before, and we really enjoyed it.  On a nice summer evening, it was very comfortable sitting outside, watching the sky get darker and the lights in Downtown Disney come up and be able to hear the sounds rising up.  The atmosphere was just perfect.


As we perused the menu, R mentioned that the menu had changed, as they were now on their summer menu.  In looking over the menu more closely, we indeed noticed that it was slightly different from our last trip in May.  R pointed out one of the new items on the appetizer list - "spicy seared rare ahi tuna with avocado, pickled cucumber, tomato gazpacho and citrus croutons".  R described the dish further to us and mentioned that the spice being used is something that one of the sous chefs had found in a little out-of-the-way shop, from an independent vendor.  They liked the spice a lot, but they've been unable to find that vendor again so for the moment, they figure they have enough of the spice to last the summer.  Based on R's description, my husband and I decided to try it, and RJ ordered the Caesar salad.  The ahi was absolutely marvelous.  My husband and I are big sushi fans so the slightly cooked fish was very much to our liking.  The spicyness was really interesting in that it had very much of a kick to it, but it didn't deaden your taste buds as some do, and it had no lingering effects.  The added combination of the tomato gazpacho was really good as well.


For dinner, my husband did indeed order the Surf 'n Turf, which he really enjoyed, and both RJ and I ordered the osso buco on creamy polenta with melted tomatoes and white truffle oil.  I'd known since my last visit that I'd be having osso buco on my next visit (and I know what I'm ordering on my next visit as well - highly unusual for me in that regard), and it's a dish that RJ particularly likes.  It was incredible.  The meat was very tender and tasty, and with three others of my favorite ingredients, I loved my meal.  RJ loved it as well and was raving about it for the rest of the evening.


Since we'd waited a while for our table, we were at the restaurant later than I'd anticipated.  I had figured we were going to return to DL to see Believe, but the three of us instead decided to finish off our meal with a leisurely dessert.  As much as I love Believe, I wasn't ready for dinner to be over.  When R brought the dessert menus, we also noticed a few items that hadn't been on the list in May.  I am particularly enamoured of creme brulee, something I'd had for the first time on my first visit to Catal in May 2001.  I asked R what the creme brulee flavors were that night, and he said they were vanilla, hazelnut and rose.  I asked what the rose was, and after a funny retort from R, he confirmed that it was in fact the flower.  As on my previous visits, I decided to have the creme brulee, which I did really enjoy.  I wouldn't have been able to pick out that the one flavor was rose, but I did like it a lot.  RJ ordered the blackberry and lemon butter tart, which he liked.  He did say he would have preferred if it was a bit more lemony, which I agreed with when I tried a bit of it, but then I like real lemony flavor.  My husband ordered the chocolate mint mousse cake.  As both RJ and I tried it, we both had the same reaction that my husband did upon his first taste.  I do like mint ice cream, but I also am quite aware of the taste and texture of mint ice cream.  The incredible thing about this mint ice cream is that it tasted and felt like you were chewing on a mint leaf, even though you'd just put ice cream in your mouth.  It was an absolutely amazing feeling.  And tasty too!


Before dessert arrived, the executive chef, B, came out to say hello.  Because of a special dish that we'd ordered, R had brought him out to meet us on our previous visit, and we'd found him to be very friendly and personable, and most of all, passionate about his creations.  Both RJ and I complimented him on the osso buco, which is his favorite dish.  We all also told him how much we enjoyed the ahi appetizer and in discussing the ingredients some more, B tossed out a few ideas for various other dishes, as he'd done the previous time.  It's wonderful to listen to him talk about dishes because he shows such excitement about them that it's contagious.  I'm not particularly fond of cooked fish dishes, but after his description of one particular cooked fish entree, I'm actually considering ordering it on some future visit.  There were a few other ideas he threw out that we were interested in, so he said he might include them on the fall menu.  (The restaurant has slight menu changes for each season.)  When we later asked RJ jokingly if he'd be interested in returning to Catal in the fall, he said he was interested in returning to Catal the following evening!  We thanked B for coming by our table.


Thoroughly satisfied, we settled our bill and paused to chat with R a bit more.  This was our third visit with R as our waiter, and R is very attentive and knowledgeable about the restaurant's offerings as well as being very funny.  I would definitely recommend asking for R on a visit, but we get first dibs if we're there at the same time!


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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