Catal Restaurant - dinner - September 15, 2002
To celebrate the birthday of a friend (R), we had decided to have dinner at Catal. We were joined by two other friends and two of R's co-workers. We had previously made a reservation for 6:30pm, so we were seated fairly promptly on our arrival. Unfortunately, our favorite waiter was unavailable, but the waiter we ended up with, A, happened to be the only other waiter we've ever had at Catal, and we remembered liking him as well. How can you not like someone who carmelizes the creme brulee right in front of you at the table? The executive chef, B, came by the table and said hello to everyone. We'd met him on several previous occasions and had enjoyed our discussions.
After ordering our beverages, we tried to decide what to have as appetizers. Since the two co-workers had never been to Catal before, it was an even better opportunity to take advantage of Catal's offer of a free appetizer, with the purchase of two entrees, for every two people who have an annual pass to the Disneyland Resort parks. With six people holding annual passes, it was a good deal indeed.
We decided to order a few dishes to share among us, and R opted for the soup of the day, which was a wild mushroom and red wine soup garnished with a savory roasted garlic flan and chives. I tried a bit of the soup, and it was absolutely delicious. Most of us had reacted with puzzlement when A had described the garlic flan with the soup, but it was completely unlike what I had expected. It gave the soup an additional taste that's difficult to describe. I would definitely have that in the future if it's offered on the menu.
To share among the group, we decided to order the ahi tuna dish (which we've had before and loved), the mixture of marinated olives (which we've also had before and enjoyed), and the duck and mushroom strudel (which we'd not had before but which was very good and is definitely something I'd have again). A few of the people also decided on a bottle of red wine to share.
As entrees, there was quite a consensus of dinner choices. Four of us ordered the osso buco, one person ordered the "plat du jour", which was roasted rabbit, one person ordered the lasagna, and one person ordered salmon. I'd had the osso buco before and enjoyed it just as much as last time. I'd previously had a taste when a friend had ordered the salmon, and while I'm not one partial to cooked fish (I prefer sushi), I enjoyed the salmon so much that I do plan to order it at some point on a future visit. I'd considered ordering the lasagna as well, so the person who had ordered the dish was nice enough to let me have a taste, and it was every bit as good as it sounded on the menu. It's a vegetable lasagna, with rock shrimp on the side. According to the person who'd ordered the entree, "the layers of vegetables were cooked but still crisp and the pasta was a perfect al dente". That will definitely be something I'll order in the future. Hmmm, I'd previously had a list of entrees to order, which had been exhausted on my last visit, and this had been the first time in quite a while when I didn't know beforehand what I was going to order. I guess the list is building again. I didn't try the rabbit (it's mostly a mental thing - can't eat a bunny), but the person who had ordered it said it was very good.
B came back out to check on us, and we expressed to him how much we had all enjoyed our meals. As it was time for dessert, B wanted to make sure we knew that the special dessert he had prepared was ready. On a prior visit, we had been told about a dessert that had been on the menu but which was no longer offered. After hearing a brief description, we were eager to try the dessert and had asked when they might expect to bring it back. B had mentioned that with a few days notice, he'd be able to make it for us. So, a few days prior to this dinner, we'd gone to the restaurant to make our reservation and to speak to B about preparing the dessert. At the time, we were expecting to have six people at dinner, but we weren't sure how many people would actually want to order the dessert, so after inquiring about the size of the dessert, we asked if B could arrange for 2 to be made. He said he'd make 4 just in case, and if we didn't order all of them, there'd be no problem either selling the others or giving them to the staff. We had mentioned to the other people at dinner that we'd requested the special dessert but that no one was obligated to order it. When B mentioned dessert that evening, I asked him to describe the dessert for those who had not already heard anything about it. B proceeded to describe the various ingredients and steps that needed to be taken to prepare the dessert. They had taken it off the menu because it's a bit labor-intensive, but all the work certainly pays off. After B finished his explanation, every single one of us were eager to try the dessert, so I later told our waiter, A, to apologize to the staff as we would be ordering all four of the desserts and weren't going to be leaving any of it for them. In addition to the four orders of the special dessert, we also ordered the cherry gateau basque to share. I had tried the cherry gateau basque previously and thought it was good, but the special dessert was everything that we'd been led to believe, and given the work involved and the incredible taste, it was still a reasonable $6. Our entire table absolutely raved about how good it was when B came back out again to see what we thought. He told us a few stories about events that they'd catered which involved making that dessert, and we then thanked him for making them for us. This was the first time that I've not had creme brulee for dessert at Catal, but since the special dessert is made using some of the same elements (and the creme brulee flavors that night weren't particularly intriguing to me), I was happy nonetheless.
We were pretty much done with dinner at that point, and as A came back to check on us, he overheard us mention that it was R's birthday, so he disappeared for a minute and came back out with a dish of ice cream and a lit candle for R.
Between the meal and the dessert and the company, it was an absolutely delightful meal. While we were sorry not to see our favorite waiter, we all liked A. He was very attentive without being overbearing, and he was very friendly as well, but not obtrusive so that we were able to have great conversation among us. He's definitely someone whose station we'd love to be seated at in the future.
Catal remains my favorite restaurant at the Disneyland Resort and one of my favorite restaurants overall.
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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