Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine’s Dinner @ Catalyst

Apparently Valentine’s day “snuck up” on us this year, or should I say snuck up on a certain husband of mine ;)  When the topic of dinner on the 14th came up the week before, I knew our top choices of restaurants would have to be put on the back burner unless we wanted to eat at 9:30pm…no thanks.

(pink sparkly V-day nails)

So on Feb 11th I just decided to check out my options on Open Table!  I was pleasantly surprised when I saw a 6:30pm reservation open at Catalyst!  I was sure I had checked there a few days earlier with no such luck.  It was our best option at the time, and so I booked it! 

I usually like to try new places, since my list of “to try” restaurants is ever growing, but I knew Catalyst had great food and would provide an inviting atmosphere with it’s modern decor and cozy fireplace and open kitchen. 

The other time I had eaten here was for a blogger dinner not long after it opened.  I was looking forward to a different kind of experience as a table of 2, and was excited to try out a cocktail as I skipped on the drinks last time. 

HOWEVER, when I checked the website again the day of Valentine’s Day, I noticed a Prix Fix Valentine’s Menu…  I was not too pleased. 

Generally, I try to avoid places with prix fix menus and did not see this on the website when I made the reservation…good thing too, because I would have missed an INCREDIBLE dinner. 

When we arrived, things got off to a great start when, instead of being seated in the big open dining room where I sat for the blogger dinner, we were escorted to the other side.  Behind a long fireplace built into a partition wall, was 4 tables of 2 with bigger comfy fabric chairs…and they were nicely spaced so you didn’t feel like you were sitting with your neighbor.


It was also nice to keep warm from the fire place. 

I knew I wanted to try “The Undecided” off the cocktail menu.  This is bartenders choice; you just tell them what you like and don’t like.  I said I liked NOT sweet, citrusy, and tart. 

They delivered.


This was gin, lemon juice, and a French aperitif called Lillet.  I had never heard of Lillet before, but I LOVED this cocktail and now am on a mission to find it.  It was just what I asked for.  The fresh lemon flavor came through, it was not sweet at all, and I could barely taste the alcohol.  I had no trouble finishing it. (I’m notorious for ordering a “fun” cocktail and leaving half in the glass)

On to the food.

We had 4 courses…an appetizer, pasta course, main, and dessert.

For the appetizer I went with the Warm Lobster Strudel, Braised Leek, Tarragon, Herb Salad…


while Brian ordered the Arugula Salad, Asian Pear, Candied Walnuts, Berkshire Blue Cheese, Whole Grain Mustard Vinaigrette


The salad was crisp and refreshing with a bite to the mustard vinaigrette, but WOW, the lobster strudel!!  Warm, flaky, filled with warm lobster filling…melt in your mouth delicious.  Don’t worry, we went “halvsies” on the appetizers.

I was looking forward to the pasta course as I remember the pasta as being my favorite from the blogger dinner…they were all stand out dishes.

There were 2 options and we got 1 of each.

I got the Mushroom Ravioli, Roasted Oyster Mushrooms, Parmesan.


I had this at the blogger dinner, but it was good enough to order again!

Brian had the Goat Cheese Tortellini, Braised Brisket, Smoked Paprika-Almond Crumble


We shared.  Both were outstanding…this place does some amazing pasta dishes!

For my entree I ordered the Roasted Blue Cod, Bacon, Olive Oil Crushed Potato, Chowder Nage


I had to ask what “Chowder Nage” was and I was told it was a lighter version of a clam chowder which the Cod is served in.  Our waitress said it was delicious and one of their best dishes…sold

I could have just eaten a big bowl of that chowder you see surrounding the Cod…it really was light, delicate, but so so flavorful and I loved the big whole clams.  The Cod was tender and cooked beautifully.  I did everything but lick my bowl clean.

Since I had finished my cocktail, I decided to order the wine that my entree paired with.

2009 Pinot Noir, Copian, “Tous Ensembles”, Andrew Valley, CA

I also loved the wine and finished it!!  (hey this is unheard of for me…a cocktail AND wine)

Brian chose the Braised Kurobuta Pork Shank, Caramelized Apples, Herb Spaetzle


I had a few bites.  Incredibly flavorful with some great textures from the meat and the spaetzle. 

Lastly it was dessert time. The Butterscotch and Passion Fruit Pudding with Warm Pound Cake Croutons was on the menu and I decided one of us HAD to order it as it was my favorite dessert from the blogger dinner!!

Brian took care of it…


Those pound cake croutons?  Yeah, deep fried.  So good.

I opted for the Salted Caramel Ice Cream, Toasted Marshmallow, Peanut Brittle.

I mean you can’t go wrong with salted caramel anything right!? 


As good as they were, we couldn’t finish either dessert…so full!! 

I’m SO happy that we ended up at Catalyst!  I couldn't stop raving about how good my meal was while we were eating it.  We had a fantastic date night out!

Catalyst on Urbanspoon

Aside from the delicious food, flowers, and candy…my other favorite part of Valentine’s day is wearing PINK!  And lots of it!


So glad “color blocking” makes it okay for me to rock hot pink AND bright red!

  • pink dress – Old Navy
  • gold belt – was my grandmothers
  • red cardigan – Banana Republic
  • purple/pink paisley scarf – Banana Republic
  • grey tights – DKNY @ Nordstrom
  • grey/yellow/gold t-strap heels – Seychelles


And to think we almost said “screw it” to going out on V-day.  I realized we hadn’t had a nice dinner out like this since our trip to CA in November!  Reminds me that we need more date nights out! 

Prix Fix Menu’s…love or hate?  How often to you get out for nice dinners with your significant other or good friends??


  1. FunandFearlessinBeantownFebruary 17, 2012 at 8:01 AM

    There was a pre-fixe menu at L'Andana on Valentine's Day but we could order from the regular menu and order a la carte.  I'm like you and usually stay away from pre-fixe menus on Valentine's Day!

  2. Wow! What a meal!! The desserts look ridiculous good. Pre fix menus are awesome deals for j, but i usually skip them

  3. What a lovely dinner! I went back to Catalyst a few times already since our blogger dinner and always leave so happy - the food there is amazing! 

  4. ooh, what a great meal!!  i need to get back there, so many good items :)  fun cocktal, too!

  5. I hope that brisket tortellini is on the regular menu. That looks sooo good! Glad you guys had a great follow-up experience at Catalyst. Love that they sat you in the cozy section by the fireplace.

  6. That meal looks awesome! I'm also wary of prix fixe menus but it all looks so good! I'm curious about that ice cream. Also love the sparkly nail polish

  7. Everything looks fabulous! I'm a HUGE fan of Lillet, you shouldn't have a hard time finding it.  One of its "signature" drinks is the Vesper, which is delicious, but very strong.

  8. this meal looks excellent, glad Catalyst could come through. Adam waited a week before to make reservations we ate at 9:45! but it was worth it, I love prix fix menus on special occasions.

  9. PS I love Lillet!! I've seen it at local liquor stores, too :)

  10. Emily @ A Cambridge StoryFebruary 19, 2012 at 4:58 PM

    So glad that Catalyst delivered on Vday! I've gone back after our blogger meal to enjoy some Undecideds, which were great. But had one meal that was sub par. Now that I know the food is back on track, I'll have to return soon. 

  11. Looks amazing, all of it, except the cod looks raw in the center. Was it?