Catch 122 Cafe Bistro (Dine Out Vancouver 2013)Posted: 01/27/2013
Dine Out Vancouver is an annual food festival in Vancouver that gives diners the opportunity to experience the unique restaurants that Vancouver has to offer. The restaurants offer a special three-course, prix fixe menu for either $18, $28, or $38. While I enjoy the sudden peak of interest that Dine Out brings to our local restaurants, I find that many of my dining experiences during the festival over the years have been lacklustre. I decided to visit Catch 122, which had a $28 menu, with SB. I had previously visited Catch 122 for Samantha and Susannah’s birthday dinner a few months earlier, where the food had generally been tasty. Catch 122′s menu looked interesting (it contained both duck, which I love, and rabbit, which I’d never tried before), so I figured that if I didn’t enjoy it, I would have at least tried something new.
We started with the complimentary bread, which our server brought to us without much ceremony or introduction. It was chewy and soft, but I would have liked it a bit warmer. About the service: it seemed harried and disorganized. Many of the servers seemed quite awkward and unsure of what they were doing. As for the couple sitting beside us, their server brought out their dessert before they were even done eating their entrees. On my first visit, the server had been obviously awkward and somewhat confused, so I’d take this as a sign that their service seriously needs some work.
I started with the Duck Confit Ravioli, with house-made duck confit, ricotta, and sage butter. On my previous visit to Catch 122, I had been unimpressed with my entree, the carbonara, as the pasta had been extremely rubbery and difficult to eat. I found that the ravioli had the same problem, being a tad too gummy. I enjoyed the confit itself, which was both flavourful and rich, tasting strongly of both the duck and the ricotta. As a whole, though, the dish was too oily for my tastes, although I liked that the flavour of the duck was not diminished in the final product.
SB’s starter was the Prawn Bisque, served with a single seared scallop. The soup itself was both too oily and watered down, and had very little in the way of flavour. We both really enjoyed the scallop though, as it was plump and juicy, and had formed a nice crust from the searing. The scallop was quite flavourful, which was a nice change from the rather bland broth. SB remarked that although he enjoyed the scallop, he would have liked some lobster as well to provide some texture to the dish.
As for my main, I decided on the Rabbit Three Ways: braised leg, pan seared rack, prosciutto wrapped tenderloin stuffed with mushroom and sage, and lemongrass rabbit jus. This was my first time eating rabbit so here are my thoughts. At first bite, the meat had an interesting texture, somewhere between chicken and pork, but it actually wasn’t too strange and reminded me of chicken more than anything. The braised leg was full of meat, but was dry and unflavourful. It reminded me of rotisserie chicken in that although the skin was crispy and savoury, the inside was quite dry. The rack, although a bit difficult to eat, had fatty, flavourful meat in small portions. The tenderloin was simply delicious and easily the best part of the meal. As for the accompanying butternut squash puree, I thought it was a great complement to the rabbit–I just wished there was more of it. I would have preferred some other form of accompaniment, maybe some carrot or asparagus, as there was not enough variation of textures and I ended up eating the carrot that came with SB’s meal.
SB ordered the Beef Side Ribs, which were smoked and braised in a house-made barbecue sauce, and served with broccolini, carrot, and bone marrow mashed potatoes. He enjoyed the ribs, which were overcooked on the outside but tender on the inside. He didn’t notice much that was unique about the potatoes, but I thought they were more flavourful than regular mashed potatoes. Overall, it was a solid dinner, but we were both confused as to why it was served in a bowl, which made eating the ribs a bit uncomfortable.
For dessert, I chose the Belgian Triple Chocolate Terrine, which was served with raspberry red wine coulis. It was a tasty dessert, but ultimately unmemorable. The coulis tasted quite typical. SB and I were intrigued by the gooseberry they chose to serve alongside both the desserts we ordered. We weren’t exactly sure what it was, and it tasted a bit strange, with so many seeds inside, and it seemed a bit haphazardly tossed onto the plate. Suffice it to say that SB, at least, was unimpressed by the aesthetics.
Lastly, SB had the Sticky Toffee Pudding, which was served with hazelnut Baileys cream, whipped cream, and again, a gooseberry. We were again unsure why this was served in a bowl. The pudding itself was decent and a little bland, and also a bit too chewy for my taste. The Baileys cream made the dish, however, being sweet but subtly so. SB and I are both not big on sweets, but we really liked the cream here. Out of the two desserts we sampled, I would say we enjoyed this one more.
So that concludes our dinner at Catch 122. Were we impressed by the experience? Not particularly. Based on the dishes I sampled on my previous visit, I did not feel that the Dine Out menu that Catch 122 chose to serve highlighted their potential. However, this is true of many restaurants during Dine Out, and not at all exclusive to Catch 122. Although we had a less-than-stellar experience, I would urge diners to try Catch 122 once Dine Out ends and see what their regular menu has to offer.
Catch 122 Cafe Bistro
122 West Hastings Street