Slap in the middle of downtown Disney is an unassuming place named Catal. From the street level you can’t really tell how large the restaurant really is until, that is, you take the two flights of stairs up to the large dining area both inside and out. Ordinarily, a restaurant such as this found in the middle of Beverly Hills or New York City would be considered high end and perhaps, unwelcoming to children, however, Catal is far from being kid-UNfriedly, quite the opposite since Disney epitomizes making children happy.
I’m not a Disney fan, let alone choose to go anywhere near Disneyland for that matter, but what do you say when an old friend comes to town and informs you she is now working for Disney, and is here on business and let’s go to dinner in Anaheim around the happiest place on earth? Well, I couldn’t say no. I didn’t really care about where we met because the most important thing was that I spend time with her — the last time I saw her was 7 years ago. However, my fears diminished once I perused the menu, and was surprised to find several things which appealed to me, but that didn’t surprise me once I found out that Catal is part of the Patina Group.
We started with Jamon Iberico de Bellota with pan con tomato, a wonderfully salty cured meat from the black Iberian pig — or, at least these days, about 75% of the time, it is. Thick slices of bruschetta-like toasted bread with a thin layer of tomato is served alongside to accompany the ham. I’ve had this before in many reputable Spanish restaurants and this is pretty darn good stuff! I love salty foods and Iberico ham is a nice indulgent treat.
Abalone and potato hash (pictured top) was the other appetizer we ordered purely because we were both intrigued by the poached egg which came with — it was tipped to be cooked at 62 degree Celsius and I really wanted to know what exactly an egg cooked exactly at that temperature was going to be like. Well, I guess the egg is just perfectly cooked and perfectly oozy when cut into! The abalone itself was uninspiring but the salty brown butter and scallion sauce brought it up a notch.
Our entrees soon arrived, she ordered the roasted halibut with poached artichokes and olives (pictured right). It looked absolutely awesome, but unfortunately, the fish was overcooked and a little on the bland side. My roasted duck breast (pictured right) was tough and chewy and although the description it said there were Szechuan peppercorns, I couldn’t detect any of it. The redeeming quality of the meal was the fact that the sweet and tart flavors of the cherry agrodolce went well with the duck. Had the meat been tender it would’ve been an excellent dish.
The appetizers were far better than the entrees and I had expected a lot more from the Patina Group than this, but after taking a step back, I realized that Catal was catering to visitors to Disneyland and perhaps they weren’t looking for loyal return customers. Their target customer was the visitor who is looking for a reasonably good meal with good service, in a nice atmosphere and not bad food. With that in mind, Catal delivered!
Catal Restaurant and Uva Bar, 1580 S Disneyland Drive, Anaheim, CA 92802. Tel: 714-774-4442