This probably would have been more timely a couple of weeks ago when folks still had a chance to visit during Dine Out Vancouver, but since I regularly write about arts that have been obsolete for a couple hundred years now I think it’s pretty clear that “topical” is not really my thing. Anyway, one of the two restaurants I was able to attend this year was the virtually brand new Catch 122 Cafe Bistro in Gastown. A large focus of this review will be on the dessert course, being as that’s my area of expertise, though I will certainly talk about the meal as a whole and indeed the whole experience.
So we arrive for our reservation and were immediately greeted by what turned out to be the owner. I was impressed by the fact that he took time to fix our wobbly table. It’s probably worth mentioning that other diners were less lucky and were left standing awkwardly in the entry way for somewhat too long before being acknowledged. But my fiance and I were seated without fuss and well attended to all meal. Catch 122 itself is very Gastown in terms of decor and probably during non-Dine Out times is better suited towards being a coffee shop than a restaurant. But how about the food?
I was able to try two of the three options for each of the three courses, because sharing is fun. First course for me was Salmon Tartare with Avocado Tequila Sorbet.
The sorbet was exciting for me and I’m most certainly going to have to play with avocado in a frozen dessert in the near future. Although I wonder at calling it sorbet, as the fat content of the avocado practically makes it an ice cream, especially in terms of texture. The salmon, unfortunately was less than stellar. While it wasn’t bad, the raw onion overpowered the salmon’s natural excellence, which I feel was something of a misstep. Plating was fun, though, and with a few tweaks this could be a pretty awesome dish. The other appetizer was a Duck Confit Ravioli, which had a lovely woodsy flavour, though sadly the plating was rather dull and the dish desperately needs a splash of colour. Let me make it clear though that I am not advocating for useless garnish, this plate just needed something to draw the eye.
Mains were next, of course, and my Rabbit Three Ways was excellent. I have pretty much no complaints with this dish, the Prosciutto Wrapped Tenderloin was a tasty treat, the Rack of Rabbit was just adorable (wait, is it in poor taste to refer to food from a rabbit as cute? Not at all, it was delicious) and the Leg was not at all bad, though nothing special.
Dessert was, as a pleasant surprise, all very interesting. It is all too common to have dessert at a restaurant that is plain and boring, but here they clearly put some genuine love into their pastry department. I had the Sticky Toffee Pudding and though the taste and texture were quite good, I wish that they had warmed it all the way through. The external part was warm but sadly the middle was cold. I don’t actually know if this is by accident or design. Shame, really, because the cold of the cream and frozen grape on top would have complimented a steaming hot dessert. So close to being truly excellent.
The other dessert on the table was the PBJ Ice Cream Sandwich. Again, this dessert had a lot of potential to it. Sadly though the execution was slightly off. The peanut butter overpowered the other flavours somewhat and the cookie was not a chocolate chip cookie as advertised. I think, actually, if the cookie had been right it would have gone a long way towards saving this dessert.
After dinner the owner himself came and introduced himself. I don’t know if we got special treatment because of all the pictures I took, or if he greeted everyone after the meal, but the personal touch was nice. As to my overall impressions, I really enjoyed the great inspiration behind the dishes, however in many cases the execution seemed slightly off. The word I mostly use to describe Catch 122 is “almost.” They are so close to being an excellent dining spot and I think if they can iron out some minor kinks in regard to service and dish execution they will do well for themselves. I would be interested in going back to sample their lunch menu at some point.