It’s that time of year again — summer dineLA restaurant week! A time for great deals, checking out new restaurants, and going out in the middle of the week for more than just happy hour. Last week, Martin met up with his best friend at Le Ka in Downtown LA while I had a girls’ night out with Cass at Catch in Santa Monica. And what a catch it truly was – located in the lobby of Hotel Casa del Mar, the beach-front view was gorgeous and the ocean breeze reminded us of why we love LA.
We each ordered the same crafted cocktail: The Perfect Pair – hendricks gin, fresh muddled pear, lemon juice, pear juice, thyme. I love Hendricks and as Cass pointed out, this mixed drink was refreshing and naturally sweetened with plentiful fresh pears. Highly recommended!
In retrospect, the table bread was definitely an indicator of the quality of the meal to come. A basket full of hot, panini-pressed slices of fresh bread perfect for dipping into the California olive oil adorning each table. It was so good we asked for a second one! I love when a restaurant serves their table bread warm and Catch took it to the next level.
For my first course, I selected the Grilled Spanish Octopus – smoked potatoes, paprika, merula olive oil. I don’t think I have ever had octopus that tender before. The texture was absolutely incredible, and the flavors melded so well together, especially with the garnish of lemon zest and fleur de sel.
Cass’s appetizer was the Marinated Beef Carpacccio – pine nuts, arugula, garlic chips. The beef was paper-thin and the toppings (especially the garlic chips!) added a great mouthfeel with the variety of textures.
My primary reason for selecting Catch was the entree: Cioppino – mussels, clams, scallop, shrimp, seared fin fish, saffron-rouille crostini. The fascinating part was that the broth was poured in tableside. Traditionally a fisherman’s stew of assorted seafood in a tomato and white wine broth or sauce, cioppino is one of my all-time favorite dishes, and this was the first one I have eaten where the components were prepared separately. This method had its perks — the fish was crispy, the scallop had a beautiful caramelized sear, the head-on prawn was smoky, and the bivalves were all perfectly cooked. The portion was generous and incredibly satisfying — with my discard bowl piled high with shells and every last drop of broth scraped clean, I was a happy camper. Delizioso!
At our server Jeremy’s recommendation, Cass had the Mustard Marinated Black Cod – roasted shiitake, sunchokes, green asparagus. I don’t know where Catch sources their asparagus from, but these were massive! The fish looked tender and flaky, and the silence that fell over our table as we both focused intently on our entrees told me that she really enjoyed it.
Of course, there is always room for dessert! It was a tough decision, but I ended up choosing the Chocolate & Espresso Tart – warm salted caramel sauce. It was like a blast from the past – at first glance, it bore near-identical resemblance to the dessert that Martin and I had while aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train.
After just one bite, however, the difference was clear — the tart crust was crumbly, the ganache filling was velvety, the fluffy homemade whipped cream could not have been further from the canned stuff, and the DIY (drizzle it yourself) salted caramel sauce was simply stellar!
Cass weighed her options and finally settled on the Market Strawberries – short cake, pistachio streusel, creme fraiche ice cream. The strawberries looked so fresh and the short cake biscuits were adorable. The pistachio streusel added a lovely splash of color that made the dish shine. A refreshing way to end the meal!
The dineLA 3-course dinner was a $$ – $35.00 per person. The food was well worth it, but what really made our evening was our server Jeremy. He was considerate without being overly attentive and he humored our requests for pictures, even counting off in 日本語. I’ve found that some dineLA experiences can feel rushed because of the sheer volume of diners, but Catch embodied the laid-back beach lifestyle while serving elegant, delicious dishes.
Hurry, only 5 days left to participate in dineLA restaurant week!
Check out Catch American Seafood: catchsantamonica.com
Hotel Casa Del Mar
1910 Ocean Way
Santa Monica, CA 90405
See their Yelp reviews here!