Catal Restaurant - dinner - October 31, 2006

Catal recently changed over to their new fall menu, which in and of itself is a good reason for a visit, but celebrating a friend's birthday is an even better reason.

Because we were going to a special event at Disney's California Adventure that started at 6:30pm, we had a dinner reservation for 5pm, when Catal opens. The restaurant was unsurprisingly sparse, and we waited a few minutes before being taken to our table. We had both perused the new menu prior to our visit, but with so many good things on the menu, it was now time to make a decision.

My friend decided to start with the soup of the day, which was artichoke soup, and then to have the ahi tuna for an entree. I decided to have the tuna tartare appetizer and then the venison entree. Catal is the first place where I tried and discovered I loved venison, and it's been a while since they've had venison on the menu.

We enjoyed the bread that had been brought to the table, and then our appetizers arrived.


Artichoke soup.


Tuna tartare appetizer.


My friend loved her soup. I had a taste of it, and I rather enjoyed the light taste. However, I absolutely loved the tuna tartare. The tuna itself was good quality, fresh and tasty, but what really caught my attention was the roasted peppers. I wasn't sure if they would be spicy, but given the way they were presented, it didn't seem like they would be. Still, I was cautious and cut off a piece to try. The fire-roasting and seasonings made the peppers taste amazing, bursting with different flavors. My friend shared some of my appetizer as well, and she loved it just as much. She put all of the flavors together on top of one of the crostini, and she said the mix of all flavors was really good. The server mentioned that the peppers can occasionally have a bit of a kick, and I did find one or two that had a second of spicyness, but nothing that should affect anyone who doesn't like/can't handle spicy foods. This is an appetizer I highly recommend.

Shortly after we were done with our appetizers and the plates had been cleared, our entrees arrived. Earlier in the day, the topic of macaroni and cheese had come up in discussion between my friend and me, and I ended up telling her about our mac and cheese experiences at Catal. She said it sounded like a good idea, so we had ordered the mac and cheese off the children's menu as a side to share.


Ahi tuna.


Macaroni and cheese from child's menu.


Grilled venison filet.


My friend enjoyed her tuna, and I enjoyed the taste that I had as well. I particularly liked the grilled eggplant underneath.

I very much enjoyed my venison, which had been cooked medium rare so that the taste comes through quite nicely. Having it not overcooked also meant that it was still very tender. The roasted lettuce was a nice contrast in flavor to the meat. I had been a little unsure about what the molten chestnut cake would be like, but I enjoyed that as well. It did indeed have a consistency similar to a sponge cake, and the flavor was light enough not to overpower the venison. The only thing I would have changed was to not have the molten chestnut cake sitting in the sauce that went with the venison. The cake would soak up quite a bit of the sauce, which then pretty much obliterated the taste of the chestnut. The sauce doesn't overpower the venison because it just coats it lightly. After a few bites, I moved the chestnut cake so that it was no longer sitting on the sauce. My friend had never had venison before, so she had a taste, and she enjoyed it as well. In addition to the great flavor of the dish, I was also very impressed with the presentation itself. I would also highly recommend this entree.

The macaroni and cheese is a fairly large portion for a child, especially for a younger child, but it actually works quite well as a split side. The mac and cheese has very good cheese flavor, and the sauce thoroughly coats the noodles and is very smooth. The mac and cheese went very well with the sauce in the venison dish.

For dessert, we decided to split the vanilla mascarpone with pineapple. Because they knew that we were celebrating my friend's birthday, they added a special touch to the dessert.


Happy Birthday!


The mascarpone was very tasty and was a nice complement to the surrounding crispy wafers. And for pineapple lovers, the pineapple sorbet with the pineapple wrapped around it is just perfect. A great end to a terrific meal.

As usual, the service was terrific. The restaurant got busier as our meal progressed since it was then prime dinner time, but our water glasses were continually kept refilled, and our server (who I didn't know from my previous visits) came over to check on us several times. With so many other things on the new menu that I want to try, I'll certainly be returning for dinner in the near future.



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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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