Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dainobu Revisited

A little over a year ago, I visited Dainobu for the first time. Going for today's lunch, I remembered how good the fatty tuna-scallion roll was last time and hoped they would have it again. I still want to try the hot food counter sometime, but today I wanted something light and refreshing, so today would not be that day.

I had a late lunch (~2:15 when I got there). There were no fatty tuna-scallion rolls in the cold case, but I don't know if it was because they didn't have them today or they had already run out. Instead I went with the spicy tuna roll.

Instead of mashing the tuna up in the mayo, the spicy tuna roll at Dainobu consists of tuna and cucumber in an inside-out roll, with each piece topped with a dollop of spicy mayo. I much preferred the roll like this. It kept the flavor clean and light instead of feeling like it was weighed down by too much mayo. Another plus is that, if you thought there was too much mayo, you could easily remove some of the mayo until it reached the right amount. The taste of the roll was good. I like the fatty tuna-scallion roll better, but the spicy tuna roll was definitely good.

I went into Dainobu wanting vegetables, so I also got a small side dish of spinach with tofu (which also had carrots).

I was expecting this to be very light in flavor, with the taste of the spinach itself being the strongest part. Instead, the tofu overwhelmed the vegetables. It was also some sort of sweeter tofu, which was not at all what I was expecting. I probably wouldn't get this again since it wasn't the light side salad I thought it would be and instead was very rich.

By the time I got to Dainobu, I had gotten very hungry (it was my third option as I walked east and the other 2 hadn't worked out). Since I wasn't sure if 8 sushi pieces and a small vegetable side would be enough, I also got a snack/dessert.

Mochi doughnuts! I love mochi doughnuts. They're so soft and chewy, and I love the crunch from the sugar topping. I managed to wait an hour after lunch before eating it (helped in part by a very gross episode of Bones), but it tempted me from my peripheral vision the entire time. Mochi doughnuts are always so good.

I think, if I worked closer, Dainobu would be solidly in my (very long) rotation. It can easily go beyond my goal of a $10 lunch, especially if you're getting a sushi roll, but the food is always high quality and worth the "splurge."

Dainobu is at 129 E. 47th Street (between Lexington & 3rd).

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sausage Biscuit

I don't know why, but for the last few hours of Black Friday shopping, I really wanted a sausage biscuit from McDonalds. I don't go there often but I guess my subconscious associates it with early morning shopping. For our last stop on our Black Friday morning, I satisfied my craving. So unhealthy but so good. After 6.5 solid hours of shopping, it (along with the hash browns and orange juice) was definitely worth it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

IGK Pad Thai (Revisited)

So a few weeks ago I tried out the pad thai a new midtown deli-style location called IGK - International Gourmet Kitchen. In my review I found the dish to be a bit dry compared to other pad thai I have had in the past and also that the grilled chicken took a little away from the dish as the char flavoring didn't match well in the dish.

I tried it out once more, and I have to say that they either read my little review or they just opted to change how they made it. I know, they also could just have had a different chef making it behind the counter, but I'd like to think they read my review, took it to heart, and changed things up to suit me better. This time around, the noodles were coated in sauce, and it was definitely not dry at all. The flavors exploded like last time, but the extra sauce made it that much better. The chicken also tasted less charred. It was still grilled, but there was little to no char flavoring, and overall the dish tasted amazing.

No pictures this time around since it looked pretty much the same as the last time I tried it. Every time I go back to IGK, it reaffirms why I should just make it my go-to place.


We got a really early start on our second day in Greece. We left our hotel in Athens, took the metro to Piraeus and rushed to catch our ferry to Mykonos, the Blue Star Ithaki. These ferries are more like small cruise ships than commuter ferries. There is a lot of seating (and on overnight ferries, sleeping cabins) and also lounges, a fast food restaurant and outdoor decks. We paid for business class (only slightly more) and had enough space to sleep comfortably on the couches.

One of the ferry's features is the quick service food outlet. Since we were in business class, we could have gotten waiter service, but we chose to get the food ourselves so we could look at the offerings in the glass cases. (I think it was also a little bit cheaper.) Flocafe had a lot of offerings, including pastries, sandwiches, sweet desserts and ice cream.

We got 2 snacks and A got a coffee.

One of the snacks was the sausage roll.

This snack consisted of one long hot dog wrapped in phyllo dough. The sausage itself wasn't bad, but there was a lot of phyllo dough which was too dry. The bites which were hot dog with a layer of pastry around it were pretty good, but all that excess phyllo dough on the side was just unnecessary.

Our other snack was a turkey and gruyere sandwich (if we remember our menu choice correctly).

The sandwich was fine. It was lighter than the sausage roll since it had fresher ingredients and wasn't a lot of baked phyllo. We liked it better.

The snacks we had from the Flocafe were a good breakfast and enough to help us get settled in for a nice long nap before the boat made its first stop in Syros. Were they great? No, but they were good enough!

The Holiday Earl

The last sandwich in my pre-Thanksgiving run of the Thanksgiving Sandwich Project comes from the Earl of Sandwich. Their holiday sandwich has garnered quite a number of raves online, mostly from fans of their Disney location. With that many people in love with the sandwich, I figured it had to be good.

Like other Thanksgiving sandwiches, this sandwich had turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy. But unlike the others I tried, this one also had seasoned mayo. I wondered if that would make the difference since the Pret holiday sandwich also included mayo and that one was great.

I unwrapped my sandwich and on first glance it looked nothing like the one in the picture. But I thought maybe inside it would look similar to the picture and that my bread was just thicker. I do like the bread at Earl of Sandwich. It's soft and fluffy.

I lifted the bread (which had split in 2 at some point during my walk) and was really confused. All I could really see were turkey slices and a lot of mayo. A lot of mayo.

As I ate the sandwich, I did come across some stuffing and cranberry sauce in addition to the turkey and mayo but it was not nearly as balanced as the promotional photo. I was actually kind of disappointed since I expected this to be my favorite sandwich in the Thanksgiving Sandwich Project but it wasn't. There was just too much mayo. I liked that it was turkey slices, I liked the seasoning of the stuffing and I liked the small amount of cranberry sauce that I came across. But I just felt like the arrangement of the sandwich was off and that it was almost like the contents had fallen into and gotten fished out of a container of mayo.

I will give this sandwich another chance, partially because I like Earl of Sandwich and partially because, if so many people like this sandwich, there must be something good about it. Next time I think I will ask if they can go light on the mayo, and if not, ask for it without mayo. I'm interested to see if that will make a difference. I don't think I would mind the mayo - but in moderation. Too much mayo makes for a not so thrilled me.

So who is winning this Thanksgiving/Holiday Sandwich Project (which may continue through the holidays if I can find more sandwiches)? Right now Cosi is in the lead. But for now, I need a break from turkey before Thursday.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Tzitzikas kai Mermigas

Our first dinner in Athens (and our first real honeymoon dinner) at Tzitzikas kai Mermigas was great. As we mentioned in the last post, we went out for an assortment of mezedes (small plates). There were so many options on the menu that it was tough to narrow our order down to a few. We ended up getting 5 dishes, which was probably 1 too many, but it was a delicious meal.

To start off the meal, they gave us two small shot glasses filled with a clear alcohol. We thought at first it was ouzo but then we heard some other people talking and they said it was an alcohol that was stronger than ouzo. Maybe tsipouro? It was strong and smooth, but we unfortunately don't remember much else about it.

One thing we noticed about restaurants in Greece is that they often drop off things on the table that would seem complimentary (for example, bread) that you actually get charged for in the end. I'm not sure if we were charged for the alcohol or the bread, but, whichever it was, it was a nominal amount.

I believe the olives were free. Not being a huge fan of olives, I think I had only one, but don't remember too much about it. A remembers the green olives weren't pickled, so they were harder and more bitter than he's used to, but the kalamatas tasted good and salty.

We also got a loaf of bread, which I barely remember, but I think was good. It was a nice accompaniment for several of our dishes.

We also ordered a Mythos. When in Greece, drink Greek beer. Mythos is a crisp and refreshing beer that is light but still full of flavor.

The first dish we ordered was the Tzitzikas salad (ten different freshly cut vegetables, Anthotiro and Manouri cheeses, mustard dressing).

This salad was so good. There were salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, red peppers and a bunch of other vegetables. Everything tasted so fresh and, other than the cheese, the salad tasted incredibly light and healthy. The cheese was amazing. Both were soft Greek cheeses (I forget which one was the slightly harder one) and it was our first time having them. We absolutely loved them and thought they were perfect for salad.

We love dolmades (grape leaves) so we ordered the Filiani dolmades (spring onions stuffed with spinach, cheese, bacon and aromatic herbs).

We weren't sure what to expect from these dolmades. The description sure didn't sound like the grape leaves that we often get (usually stuffed with rice and sometimes pine nuts), but I don't think either of us expected them to be as creamy as they were. They were really rich and soft, and very cheesy. (The blocks of cheese below are from the salad, not the dolmades.) Cheesy spinach stuffed onions.

The pita "berze-berze" (minced meat flavored with oriental soutzouki in grilled pita) was also really good. It consisted of a crispy pita on the bottom, topped with ground meat, lots of onions and tomatoes, some yogurt and lots of spices. Such a simple combination but so delicious. The pita was crisped on the outside and chewy on the inside. The yogurt also added a nice coolness and tartness that acted like a much healthier sour cream.

We also tried the saganaki (4 cheeses cooked in olive oil and boucovo (red pepper flakes)). The saganaki we usually get at home is a block of griddled cheese in olive oil which is flambeed and then put out with lemon juice. The saganaki we had in Greece was nothing like that. Most were like this one, consisting of little blocks of cheese melted together in olive oil. This one also had a lot of tomatoes and red pepper flakes. It was smokey and tasted like there was bacon in it even though we knew there was none.

Lastly, we also ordered the meatballs (made with fresh mint and served with homemade fries). The meatballs weren't bad, but this was our least favorite dish. The meatballs did have a nice flavoring from the mint, but they were a little on the drier side. Also, the meatballs and fries just didn't seem so exciting compared with the other dishes on our table. If we were to drop any of the dishes from our meal, and we should have based on how much we ended up eating, it would have been this one.

We were so full on savory mezedes so we didn't even consider ordering dessert. With a good meal filling our bellies, we wandered around the stores near the restaurant for a bit before heading back to our hotel and resting for our early morning trip to Piraeus!

Our First Athens Restaurant

It's been over 6 months since we were in Greece and sadly our memories are starting to fade. Before we forget everything, time to get back to our honeymoon recaps!

We had left off on our first day in Athens (yes, there is still a LOT to write about) with a visit to the awesome Ariston bakery for a late lunch. Later that day, we went for our first dinner at a restaurant called Tzitzikas kai Mermigas. They're known for small plates (mezedes) with a spin on traditional Greek food and we thought that sounded perfect.

Before we get to the food, let's set the scene and tell you about the restaurant itself. Tzitzikas kai Mermigas is centrally located on Mitropoleos Street near Syntagma Square and looked really inviting:

Many people in Athens eat dinner on the later side, so it was relatively easy for us to get a table. We were there before it got dark since we had to catch an early ferry the next day and didn't want to be out too late.

When we sat down, one thing we noticed is that the tables had no silverware pre-set:

Instead, on one side of the table there was a small drawer:

The drawer contained napkins and silverware. This was a nice and efficient method of service as you would never need to bother someone if you needed extra silverware or napkins.

Instead of being dark or candlelit like many places at home, this restaurant was open, inviting, casual and friendly. The menus were fun (love the kid on the front) and contained page after page of affordable options that sounded delicious:

Parts of the design were also creative and I loved what they used for the sinks in the bathroom:

By the time we left Tzitzikas it was dark out, and the place was still really busy. At one point there were musicians who stopped by and played on the sidewalk (no photos).

We enjoyed our time there and if we spent more time in Athens, would definitely think about a return visit. In our next post we'll tell you all about the delicious food!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Banana Brulee Split

There were a few items on the Catch dessert menu that were intriguing to us. One was the cookie bucket. A was also intrigued by the peanut butter souffle because it came with peanut butter cup popsicles. Ultimately we decided to split the banana brulee split since it sounded fantastic.

The banana brulee split consisted of a banana split in half with a caramelized sugar topping like a brulee. There were 3 ice cream selections as well - raspberry, gianduja and cookie dough.

M's take: The banana brulee part of the dessert was delicious. As I've said before, my favorite part of creme brulee is the top with the caramelized sugar, so I was a fan of this. The ice cream flavors were a big factor in the appeal of this dessert as they are all flavors I love. The raspberry ice cream was milder than raspberry sorbet, and it tasted like an actual raspberry. It was topped with a few raspberries as well. The gianduja (chocolate hazelnut) was also nice and rich. But my favorite was the cookie dough. It came with little pieces of cookie on the side and it was fantastic. Definitely my favorite part, followed by the banana. I could go for some more of that cookie dough section right now!

A's take: This dessert was unbelievable. The bananas were caramelized beautifully, and they kept all of the actual banana flavor on top of it. I can eat ice cream all day, and these 3 flavors were masterful. The raspberry ice cream tasted just like raspberries. There wasn't any creaminess or additional flavor detected at all, and it amazed me that they were able to create such a perfect flavor. The gianduja was a bit disappointing to me. Normally hazelnut and chocolate combine to provide a very distinct nutty/chocolate-y flavor, but this seemed a little lacking. Perhaps it was just muted, but I really was expecting more from this flavor. The cookie dough was different than every other cookie dough I had ever had, but it was not a bad thing. Normally you think of vanilla ice cream with lumps of cookie dough mixed when you think of cookie dough ice cream, but this was nothing like that. It's almost like they captured cookie dough essence or flavoring and just made ice cream with it. Pair that with the cookie crumble bits and the cookie disc on the bottom of the ice cream, and it was by far the best flavor on the plate.

Snapper with Lobster Mash

We decided to split an entree at Catch (and get more appetizers) so that we could try more dishes. There were a lot of main course fish options, including a "simply cooked" section where you can choose your own fish and sauce. But since a big reason we were there was for the chef, we of course decided to go with the chef's pre-designed selections. We decided on the sauteed snapper which came with lobster mash, truffle and lemon brown-butter.

M's take: The snapper was really perfectly cooked, light and flaky. The lobster mash was rich and full of lobster flavor (and meat). The dish as a whole was very rich and filling, but tasty.

A's take: The fish was flaky and cooked to perfection. The lobster mash was very rich, and I thought it was the best aspect of the dish, and you could definitely taste the truffle oil. The brown butter sauce was actually lighter than I expected. It was not as buttery as I thought I would be considering the actual ingredients. All together, the dish tasted great.

Since our meal was seafood-heavy and not very vegetable-heavy, we decided to get a side of Applewood bacon brussels sprouts. The brussels sprouts also came with onions and granny smith apples.

M's take: I liked the brussels sprouts, which came sliced in quarters. The apples were an interesting addition but worked pretty well. It was nice having some veggies to add to our seafood meal.

A's take: Brussels sprouts work very well with bacon which is why you often see the two paired. The brussels sprouts tend not to have much flavor which is why they need a flavoring agent like the bacon to give it life. I felt that the onions were lost a little in the dish, but the apples were very surprising to me. Normally granny smith apples are very tart, but after being cooked with the brussels sprouts and bacon, the tartness was tempered greatly, and they added a nice texture to the dish and also an added flavor dimension.

This ends our savory dish posts. We were quite satisfied with our meal at Catch and couldn't wait to see what was for dessert!

Crab-Stuffed Calamari

The crab-stuffed calamari is the first hot appetizer listed on the Catch menu and it immediately caught our eye. It sounded great! When it came, we had that unfortunate incident with the runner but it did not reduce our love for this dish. The appetizer consisted of grilled calamari, stuffed with crab and chorizo, in a broth that tasted to us like a buttery tom yum soup, with chickpeas and peppers. According to the menu, it also had piquillo, mint and chili-lime.

Sad blurry picture

M's take: I wasn't sure what to expect from this dish based on the menu description. For some reason, I thought it would be rings of fried calamari with crab inside the ring like a donut hole. That doesn't make much sense in retrospect and what we got was so much better. The grilled calamari was cooked perfectly. Sometimes grilled calamari can get too chewy, but these were nice and soft. The crab and chorizo stuffing were excellent, the broth was complex and the vegetables were a perfect complement. In my opinion, the crunchy rice cakes just edged out the calamari as my favorite dish. There was such a diversity of flavor to this dish and it all worked together really well.

A's take: This was a very interesting and tasty dish. The squid stuffed with chorizo and crab was amazing. The squid was so soft and tender and didn't have any chewiness to it. The stuffing was flavorful and had enough salt to balance the broth. The broth really put everything together. As noted, it tasted like a buttery tom yum soup, and all of the vegetables soaked up the flavor.

That's it for the appetizers! Next up, snapper and brussels sprouts.

Baked Shrimp

We were about to dig in to our first three Catch appetizers when the baked shrimp arrived. According to the menu, the baked shrimp were cooked in olive oil and garlic and came with 2 pieces of country bread. On top of that, it looked like the baked shrimp were topped with some watercress and there were other vegetables in the bowl.

M's take: The baked shrimp was a solid appetizer, but it lacked the punch of some of the others that we had already tried. I liked that the shrimp came without shells, so it was much easier to eat. The best bite was the shrimp, vegetables and sauce on top of the bread, but there wasn't enough bread for every bite to consist of all parts of the dish. This dish landed last on my ranking list for dinner, but it wasn't bad at all. It just wasn't my favorite of everything that came to our table.

A's take: I was expecting a lot more from this dish based on past reviews we had read. The sauce wasn't nearly as heavily garlicky, but it was still tasty. The sauce was more tomato-based than garlic flavored. The bread was great for stacking everything on, but there were only two somewhat small pieces, and having to share with M, we barely had any bread with which to use. The shrimp was cooked perfectly, and the vegetables, even if we couldn't identify them all, tasted very fresh and good. While it ranked at the bottom of our respective lists, this was still a very good dish. It was just indicative of how great the meal was overall.

Catch Roll

The third appetizer to arrive was the Catch roll, consisting of crab, salmon and miso-honey (and also some jalapenos on top):

The roll from the side

Roll from the top

M's take: The roll was pretty good and nicely flavored, but didn't seem like anything out of the ordinary to me. I liked the clean flavors and the high quality of the ingredients, but it seemed like something you could also get at other good sushi places.

A's take: This was an okay roll. As far as sushi rolls go, though, it was something that we probably could have gotten at any other sushi place we frequent. The fish was nice and fresh, and the jalapeno pepper provided a nice heat and some nice flavor. Everything was high quality, but it was still nothing overly special.

We thought this roll would be the last appetizer in our "first set" and that the others would trickle in slowly afterwards, but we were incorrect. Shortly after the roll arrived, the last 2 appetizers came, leading to the issue we described in our first post. Here's the roll just after nearly being crushed by the calamari bowl:

It doesn't look too bad until you realize that was, for the most part, our entire table. Considering that they recommend ordering several appetizers, it seems like inconsistent planning to then have such narrow tables.

Generally, the Catch roll was pretty good. But it just didn't land as high on our rankings as some of the other more "special" offerings.

Crunchy Rice Cakes

The second appetizer to arrive at our Catch dinner was the crunchy rice cakes, which came with tuna tartare and wasabi tobiko:

Crunchy rice cakes from the top - the only shot we could get on our very full table

(Bad) low-light shot of the rice cakes from the side after we finished some other dishes

M's take: The first time I went to Koi, a coworker told me it was an absolute must to get the crispy rice - these warm, slightly chewy rice cakes, topped with tasty tuna tartare. They were amazing and every time anyone goes to Koi from work, there are always several orders of crispy rice on the table. The crunchy rice cakes here were very similar to the ones from Koi, although, as that is their specialty, I think Koi does it a little better. Here the rice cakes were a little crispier and crunchier. It was still excellent and our favorite dish from dinner. The girls next to us ate a bite and then didn't eat the rest of theirs. Seemed like there was an issue, but I'm not sure what as ours tasted just fine.

A's take: I had high expectations for this dish since M and I had eaten a similar dish at Koi. While this dish fell a little short of that lofty level, it was still the best dish of the night. The tuna tartare was so delicate and light, and it was seasoned perfectly. The caviar added just the right amount of saltiness, and the sauces added a richness and sweetness. The rice was the disappointing part of the dish. It was a little overcooked so it came out a little dry and a little too crunchy. There also wasn't much flavor to the rice so it was sort of a dry clump. Luckily the tuna had enough moisture to soften the dish enough. Again, though, even that little issue with the rice didn't prevent this from being an amazing dish.

Lenny's H1

Another day, another entry on the Thanksgiving Sandwich Project. It might not be a day at the office but it's still Thanksgiving week, so I decided to get Lenny's version of the Thanksgiving sandwich, the H1 sandwich (hot sandwich 1), for lunch.

The H1, like other Thanksgiving sandwiches, consists of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and turkey gravy. Like Toasties, it's also offered year-round. As I previously noted that Toasties seemed like a Lenny's knock-off, it shouldn't be a surprise that their sandwiches were very similar. Between the 2, I think the Lenny's one has a slight edge. I still think Cosi is better than both of them, but sadly that's only available in season. Even though it has similar ingredients, it doesn't feel like a food coma-inducing heavy weight in your stomach.

A direct comparison between the Lenny's and Toasties sandwiches is probably most useful here. The turkey in the Lenny's sandwich was not dry at all, unlike the Toasties one. But the Lenny's one consists of sliced turkey that was soaking in water to keep it moist, unlike the Toasties turkey which was carved off the bone in front of me. The stuffing was about the same in flavoring and texture. The cranberry sauce here, while also the sliced kind from the can, had more distinct slices than Toasties which kind of became one big gloopy piece after awhile. Toasties did have more gravy, which was nice, but since the Lenny's turkey wasn't as dry, it wasn't as necessary.

Now, before Thanksgiving, I just need to try the much raved about Earl of Sandwich option, and then I think I need a turkey break before I'm burnt out on turkey before Thanksgiving even gets here!

Crispy Shrimp

The first appetizer to arrive during our Catch dinner was the crispy shrimp with spicy mayo:

M's take: This reminded me of the rock shrimp tempura I've had at other restaurants. Crispy fried shrimp covered in a spicy mayo sauce. It's a simple combination but works so well. This had a nice amount of zing, and a nice crunch. I liked it.

A's take: I really liked this dish. It had a very good flavor with a mix of heat, sweetness, and saltiness as well. The shrimp were also fried perfectly for a great crunch. And even with a full coating of sauce, the shrimp kept its crunch.

Pretzel Bread

Continuing our Catch recaps, the first thing to arrive at our table was a bowl with 2 pieces of pretzel bread and a side of honey mustard butter. This was their version of a bread basket and we liked it better than most ordinary bread baskets.

Pretzel bread in bowl

Individual pretzel bread

Honey mustard butter

M's take: This was a great start to the evening. I love pretzels and was very happy with the strong pretzel flavor, the perfect saltiness and the softness of the bread. The butter was like a sweet (very) creamy buttery mustard. I liked that too, although the pretzel bread itself was so good that it didn't necessarily need the butter. I wanted more pretzel bread but knew I had to save stomach space for all the other good stuff we ordered!

A's take: The pretzel was amazing. It was warm, buttery, and soft. It really reminded me of the warm soft pretzel M and I got at Airbrau during our meal in the Munich Airport. The honey mustard butter was also fantastic. The perfect amount of sweetness, mustard flavor, and creaminess from the butter. A great start to the meal, and a nice twist on the standard bread basket.

Pink Venus

To start off the meal at Catch, I scanned the cocktail menu. I usually gravitate toward fruit-flavored drinks and was deciding between the Pink Venus and the Iris (a vodka-grapefruit-honey-mint drink).

The Pink Venus cocktail consists of black sesame infused Beefeater gin, orange blossom water, lemon and strawberries. I usually prefer vodka to gin, but the black sesame made this cocktail sound so unique.

The scent of the cocktail was really, really familiar. I think it smelled like some sort of candy, but I can't really put my finger on what the exact scent is. But it was very sweet.

The cocktail was good, but I don't know if I would get it again. It had a very interesting flavor. You could definitely taste the black sesame. On top of that, there was a lot of citrus flavor (although I couldn't really taste orange or lemon separately) and a sweet berry flavor (more just the sweetness and less of a strong strawberry flavor). There was some pulp from the fruit, which was nice. I love black sesame so I'm glad I tried it.


Tonight for M's birthday we went to Catch, a new restaurant in the Meatpacking District. This restaurant was high on our list of fall openings, mostly for one reason:

Hung is one of our favorite Top Chef contestants ever, and we had been waiting for him to open a restaurant. When A found out that the restaurant would be open in time for M's birthday, he knew exactly where they were going.

So, what did we think?

Food: We thought the food at Catch was excellent. We ordered 5 appetizers, 1 entree, 1 side and 1 dessert, and it came with a bread as well. Everything was very good but, to preview, we rank the 8 savory items as follows:

1. Crunchy rice cakes with tuna tartare
2. Crab-stuffed calamari (M) / Crispy shrimp (A)
3. Crispy shrimp (M) / Crab-stuffed calamari (A)
4. Pretzel bread with mustard butter (M) / Brussels sprouts (A)
5. Brussels sprouts (M) / Pretzel bread with mustard butter (A)

To jump to our dessert, click here.

Decor/Style: Catch is a bustling place. We were seated on the second level of the restaurant (3rd floor of the building) which is where the open kitchen is. It's really nice being able to see all the activity in the kitchen and in the beginning, when it was a little quieter, we were even able to hear Hung giving orders in the kitchen. It was awesome. We also liked the details in the restaurant, like the menus, the fonts (in M's case) and the wall design.

Service: Sadly this was a little hit or miss for us. Even more sadly it was more miss than hit.

- We had added a note to the reservation that this was for M's birthday. Noting a special occasion doesn't always mean something special, so we didn't expect anything before we got there. But there was another couple which had a larger table and had a dessert with a candle on it, which we didn't get, so that was weird.

- Pacing of appetizers was a disaster. We ordered 5 appetizers for our little 2 top table. Instead of spacing things out so that we had 1-2 appetizers, or even 3, at the table at a time (so that they would comfortably fit on the table), all 5 of our dishes came out within minutes, and they barely fit on our table. This led to the next issue...

- In an effort to force everything to fit on our table, the runner moved A's plate and silverware to the side of the table and put one of our dishes down right in front of him. He then put the final dish on the table and shoved it over to make it fit. This wouldn't have been a big deal except he also shoved it straight into one of our sushi pieces and would have knocked it over had M not said something to make him stop. In the end we moved the sushi for him to free up enough space for that last dish. It looked like he was going to just plop the last plate on top of the sushi. How can anyone think that would be OK? That's just wrong.

All that said, overall, it was an excellent meal. We also got to meet Chef Huynh on the way out which was awesome! What will follow is a dish by dish recap so that we can highlight each dish individually while also not creating one massive post. After this experience, we can safely say that we would definitely go back.