Catalan's Spanish inspired menu led me to start with a glass of sherry and a complementary plate of the traditional accompaniments - manchego cheese, olives, sardines, and oil cured almonds. I never knew that I liked sardines until I had these. My wife ordered the crab croquettes which were also tasty. She also wisely selected the garlic shrimp seared in butter and chiles. I've heard the praises sung for Catalan's pork belly from several people so I had to try it myself. I've had a a fattier cut of belly from a hog finished on the whey byproduct from cheese-making like they do in Italty before that was braised in a pot liquor with five spice powder and the result was totally creamy. Catalan's was of a meatier cut - very much like a great pork rib.
I shared a dinner plate of the lamb quartet. I ordered the T bone and the rib chop medium rare and both were perfect. The rib chop had a great crispy crust around the edges that forced me to pick it up and gnaw the last tasty morsels. I was not as impressed with the sweetbread. It was chewy and didn't have a lot of flavor, in contrast to the one I had at Brasserie Max and Julie which was delicate with an amazing umami succulence. I hope to compare the sweetbreads at Da Marco's which was touted as the best in town in the Houston Chronicle. I think that the chef increased the portion of the barley pilaf because they knew I was sharing with my wife. They don't know that my wife eats almost nothing so I was overwhelmed by the portion and the dark reduction coating the barley grains. It didn't help that I misunderstood one of the wines to be a pinot when in fact it was a white wine. So the wine was totally lost in this course. I had to order a substantial red to cut through the palate fatigue and get out of the rough. Next time I've been told to consult with Antonio, the sommelier. I would have liked to have tried some Spanish wines and not much was available by the glass. I had just listened to the Splendid Table podcast about the wines of Galicia and Biertzo and had hoped to try some. Sadly my wife is not much of a wine drinker and I can't drink a bottle on my own. They have a nice selection of dessert and fortified wines of various production methods, several of which I have not tried. I did try a glass of the Lillypilly botrytized wine and enjoyed its orange overtones.
We told our waiter it was our anniversary which resulted in the appearance of a pile of cotton candy in a giant martini glass with a sparkler on top. I don't eat cotton candy so it looked nice but didn't get eaten. We ordered the chef playground option (which we were told was the only dessert that got ordered that night). It was a chocolate soda (very good), chocolate panna cotta (one of my favorite desserts) and a lava cake with chocolate ice cream. I think that I would have liked a fruit sorbet of strawberry or raspberry to contrast
the other chocolate flavors rather than the upscale brownie with ice cream. Plus all the dairy in the dessert course left me feeling overfull. I think I would probably stick
to the small plates next time and I would have had the perfect portion. Overall, I think Catalan merited the praises I've received.
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