Hmmm, so my experience at Catal was at first annoying, then promising and then ended really, really badly.
The Bon and I hit Catal on the last night we were in L.A., It was an extremely cold evening and Bon and I wanted to sit inside for dinner. Now, Catal is unique in that it boasts three eating areas; a lovely second story fine dining area, an inside more casual restaurant and an outside area known as the UVA Bar. The casual restaurant and UVA bar have a different menu than the second story dining area.
The hostess was no where to be found when we approached the restaurant so we stepped inside and huddled with several other groups in what turns out was the food prep area of the restaurant. Very weird! The servers were prepping plates right next to us and we all had to move several times as they took food out to the patrons of the restaurant.
The hostess finally arrived and told us it was a several hour wait for the restaurant. Since we didn't want to wait (and we really weren't dressed for the fine dining) so, Bon and I put on our Big Girl pants and braved the cold and opted to sit at the Bar outside.
This Bar would be really fun in the Summer (it was really beautiful all lit up at night) but, unfortunately this night it was just really cold. Bon and I looked over the menu, huddled near the closest heater and decided to go with the idea we had had at the House of Blues to split an app and a main dish and we ordered the Calamari and the UVA Burger.
The Calamari was simply divine. It was a baby calamari that was battered with a chickpea flour for the crust and served with fried basil leaves, a spicy harissa aioli for dipping and fresh lemon. A really outstanding presentation and so flavorful I could have just ordered another plate (or two) for dinner. Bon and I truly enjoyed this dish which ran about $12.00
Bonnie tried a few adult beverages (lemon drops I think) and she seemed to enjoy them. The Bartenders were really pleasant at first but the experience turned bad quickly when the burger arrived. The Uva Burger was described in the menu as a beef burger with caramlized onion-applewood smoked bacon relish, fresh arugula and Gruyere cheese for $15.00
Bonnie and I had ordered the burger medium rare with no relish. The burger came cut in half (which was nice) but had thousand island dressing (with relish) on it. I would have scraped the dressing off but Bonnie said she wouldn't eat it so we apologized profusely and we asked the Bartender to have another one made...NO RELISH PLEASE.
The Bartender punched in the order and shortly (very shortly) another burger came out...It not only had relish but it was bloody rare. Now, I usually enjoy rare meat but Bonnie was gaking, and I don't blame her, I mean it was seriously just warmed before it was served...It was basically raw meat.
Now, at this point I looked at the Bartenders who were watching Bonnie and I and I swear they were waiting for our reaction. On a side note, I simply don't trust any cooks that I piss off by sending food back, so when the Bartenders asked if anything was wrong my survival instinct kicked in. Okay, I admit it! I am already a freak about sending food back and there was no way I was sending the burger back again. I told the Bartender that there was again relish on the burger but that I would eat it anyway. I urged Bonnie to just order something else so she chose the Hot Wings for $12.00.
Sooooo, the wings arrived and looked like typical wings, however, by the third wing Bonnie's mouth was on fire...They were so hot she couldn't taste anything at all and just couldn't eat any more. And, she left the rest of the meal on the plate.
When the Bartender asked if everything was alright I swear he was smirking...I gave up eating the burger and just wanted to leave at that point. So for our $80.00 meal we basically got calamari and a couple of drinks.
I wanted to love this place with it's lovely outdoor atmosphere and maybe it really was just one bad night for everyone involved...However, I cannot recommend Catal to anyone because it was such a miserable experience and way too expensive.
If anyone else has had a different experience at Catal, please share it with our readers because I am really curious to know if this restaurant is worth a second chance.