Catal Restaurant - dinner - November 13, 2006

This night, we weren't there for an ordinary dinner at Catal. Catal was presenting a wine dinner featuring the wines of the Beaulieu Vineyard with winemaker Joel Aiken present. We try to attend any wine dinners held at Catal because we always know the food will be spectacular, and it gives us the chance to try new and different wines.

The reception started at 6:30pm, and our group arrived separately at just around that time. The dinner was being held in the rotunda, and we were taken to our table and then told that the reception would be held on the adjacent patio, so we made our way there. As we stood around chatting and talking to a representative of Beaulieu Vineyard, we were given glasses of the first wine, a sauvignon blanc. I only like very few wines, mostly in the dessert white wine category, but I found that I rather liked the sauvignon blanc, though I was dismayed to learn that the last of the vintage had already left the winery itself, so finding a bottle of what we were drinking might prove difficult. As we were on the patio, the hors d'oeuvres courses were brought out. The grilled baby artichoke with goat cheese was good, and the bigeye tuna with red pepper consomme and taggiasche olive (which was served on little ceramic soup spoons) was exceptionally good. My favorite, though, was the duck prosciutto. Servers would circulate with various of the three items for guests to enjoy. I had one of the artichoke and two each of the other two, but I knew there was a lot more good food to come.

At about 7:15, we went back to our table as the dinner was about to start. Joel Aiken was introduced and then talked a bit about each of the white wines which would accompany the next two courses. The first course was arugula with dried apricots, toasted walnuts and goat cheese. The accompanying wine was a viognier, which I didn't enjoy as much as the sauvignon blanc but others seemed to like the wine quite a bit.

The second course was a brown butter roasted lobster with truffle scented hand rolled cavatelli pasta and grilled scallions. We all absolutely raved about this dish, even suggesting to various staff members throughout the evening that we hoped this would eventually make it onto the regular menu. The lobster was incredibly flavorful, brought out more by the accompanying sauce. I happened to get quite a few bits of scallion on my dish, but others only had a hint of scallion. The accompanying wine was a chardonnay, which I don't like so didn't have. My husband is not a fan of chardonnay either, but he particularly disliked the pairing as he said that the wine completely overpowered the lobster.


The amazing lobster dish.


Joel Aiken then got up again to speak about the next three wines. The third course was grilled duck breast with foie gras cube, braised figs, puffed rice and greens. The duck was very good as well, and while I don't partake of red wine, the others enjoyed the accompanying cabernet-shiraz. We realized later that we didn't see any puffed rice at all, so we weren't sure how that was supposed to have been presented with the dish.


Duck breast.


The main course was a tataki of wagyu beef with braised shortrib, confit of butternut squash and wild mushrooms. Both the wagyu beef and braised shortrib were very tender and flavorful, and I particularly liked the mushrooms. The accompany wine was a tapestry red wine, which my husband particularly enjoyed as he tends to enjoy bolder red wines.


Wagu beef and braised shortrib.


The dessert was a molten chestnut cake with roasted quince and creme fraiche ice cream. I had previously had the molten chestnut cake as a side that accompanies an entree on the regular menu, but the texture of the cake allows it to work as both an entree side and a dessert item. The dessert version was a little more moist than the side version, and the porous quality of the cake allowed it to take on the flavor of whatever liquid was next to it. The combination of the chestnut cake and ice cream was quite good. The accompanying wine was a muscat, which is usually my favorite wine, but this version of muscat was much closer to brandy and therefore much stronger, so I actually didn't care for it, though everyone else enjoyed it.


Molten chestnut cake and creme fraiche ice cream.


At various times during the dinner, both the vineyard representative and the winemaker circulated among the tables for any questions about the wines.

The service was impeccable as usual, with empty dishes quickly cleared and water glasses readily refilled. At the end of the meal, Executive Chef Nicholas Weber and his staff were introduced and greeted with a round of applause. With food that is even more amazing than what is on the regular menu, I would definitely recommend any wine dinner held at Catal.

For the complete menu for this evening's wine dinner, please click here.


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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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