Houston food, restaurants and dining review. Urban living, travel, thoughts and other randomness.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Catalan Food & Wine !

5555 Washington Avenue

Some restaurants make me love living in Houston: Catalan is one of those restaurants. Located in the same strip cetner as Monsterville's Cova Wine Bar, Catalan serves the same demographic as Cova--young, hip, and moneyed. Catalan opened just three weeks ago.

At the far end of the restaurant is a brick palace to wine. The restaurant itself is a series of wood, cement, metal, and dark colors. It is exactly what you would expect from a new place on this newly cool strip of Washington Avenue. The management/ownership consists of the Ibiza folks, the Brennan's guy (cooking), and Da Marco's guy (sommelier/manager). Not a bad pedigree.

Food.... Ohhh My Gosh!!!!!!

We had the frisee salad with lardon and pomegranite taragon dressing. It was good, but not great. I much prefer lardon laden salads to come with warm dressing, but how can you go wrong with bacon? We then had the cockles in sambal (chile) broth with chorizo. Cockles are basically little clams without a lot of meat, though the meat tastes wonderful. Combined with the broth and chorizo, this dish is almost a knock-out--if only there were more cockles!!!

The dish that put us over the edge was pork belly with sugar cane. It's a fatty 1" to 1.5" cube of pork belly (very fatty) that is pan-seared with a chunk of sugar cane stabbed into it. The sauce is a mouth-watering melange of cane syrup contrasting with more savory elements. The outside is seared to perfection and when you plop a chunk in your mouth the flavors burst forth to show you a combination of flavors you always knew could exist, but have never tried.

After the pork belly, the grilled banana walnut bread with chocolate and caramelized bananas was quite a let-down. On the other hand the wine list looks fantastic. I tried a wine that they described as adventerous. You can get a full glass or 3 oz. of many wines, and bottles of many others.

"Catalan" is a misnomer for this rather formal sit-down restaurant. When we visited Barcelona, the Catalan tradition of standing, eating and drinking suited us just fine. But the breadthe and novelty (for Houston) of Catalan's menu does capture the Catalan spirit--as does the number of small plates available.

If you're going to visit, you're going to need reservations. And you're going to be competing against me to get those reservations. Good luck and god speed.


Morton Hurley said...

Just an FYI ~ your feed is working.

I've been to Cova and it was just okay. The problem we faced was that we went during happy hour and the four of us were seated at a tall bar table. This made it difficult for the four of us to comfortably place out wine glasses, wine selection and a plate of appetizers. The crowd that evening was loud, which made it difficult for us to stay sober and chat. Nonetheless, we’re still exploring other wine bars in Houston.

October 02, 2006

Huan said...

Did you try Catalan on the other end of the strip center? What did you think?

I used to enjoy the Cova on Kirby before they changed chefs. Portions got cut in the transition to the new chef while the high prices stayed the same.

October 13, 2006


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